I suffered with severely arthritic hips for over a decade. When I hobbled into Dr. Vikoren’s office he took one look at my x-rays and whistled. My 58 year old hips were both completely bone rubbing on bone and each step I took proved agonizing. He knew instantly the kind of pain I was experiencing and diagramed his plan of attack to help me walk normally again.
I shopped a few different hip doctors but right away I was super-impressed with Bucks County Orthopedics and Dr. Thomas Vikoren in particular. The best advice I think I got when choosing the right doctor for me was to find someone who does hundreds of joints a year. (These are the practitioners who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly- and my hips were as ugly as they got. As a practicing insurance defense litigator, I mentioned Dr. Vikoren’s name to a few plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers I knew who tried medical malpractice claims and was thrilled to learn that none of them had ever heard of him!)
After explaining his preferred approach, the doctor was able to schedule me almost immediately for same day outpatient surgery at a surgical center in Warrington starting on my right hip. (This date was pushed back a full month due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the governor’s order suspending elective surgeries.)
Dr Vikoren’s practice was a one stop shop. They had available, before my procedure, all of the items one would need in the aftermath of a total hip replacement. (Including: cage walker, leg squeezing devices to avoid blood clot formations, shoe horns, reaching devices and other hip precaution aids that would prove invaluable during my recovery period.) The doctor preferred to perform the surgery on an outpatient basis to greatly reduce the risk of catching an infection while in a hospital setting. (Frankly, during a pandemic the last place I really wanted to be was in a hospital.) Dr Vikoren’s team included a surgical coordinator and a highly competent nursing staff which arranged for both a visiting nurse and a physical therapist to meet me and await my return at my home on the day of the surgery to make sure I arrived home safely. They both even came back the next day to make sure I was progressing safely and that I was experiencing no signs of trouble. Dr Vikoren himself called me several times post-surgery to answer any questions or concerns. He even responded personally to my text messages- which proved to be a great comfort to me.
A few days later, I was cleared to start outpatient physical therapy and about two weeks after surgery, I returned to Bucks County Orthopedics to get my surgical staples removed. By eight weeks I was simply amazed by my progress. I had advanced from walker to cane. But there was still the issue of timing the repair of the second hip. (Having two worthless hips made PT extra difficult at first as I literally didn’t have a good leg yet to stand on.) Due to an underlying preexisting medical condition, Dr. Vikoren told me that during my first surgical procedure that I had experienced a little more blood loss than he usually experienced with his other patients so he strongly advised scheduling the next hip replacement at the same day surgical center at Doylestown hospital, in an abundance of caution, in case I was in need of an unlikely blood transfusion which the hospital was better equipped to deliver. While the plan was again to treat me like an outpatient, should there be any unsafe complications, my status could be changed to inpatient in an instant.
Both the hospital and the surgical center were immaculate facilities. Both were staffed with highly trained nurses, anesthesiologists and physical therapists that got me up and walking literally hours after both of my replacements.
Even in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, I was surprisingly at ease in the hospital setting as everyone was masked and Covid tested. Fortunately, my second surgery went well and I was cleared and released about six hours post-surgery to head home where I was once again met by a nurse and a physical therapist to assist me up the two stairs to my first floor apartment and assisted back to my recovery recliner.
I am presently twelve (12) weeks post hip replacement number one and two (2) weeks post hip replacement number two. As predicted by my therapist, the progress I’m experiencing after the second surgery in therapy is remarkable. At this point, I am literally pain free and each day I find myself trusting my new joints more and more.
Dr. Vikoren predicted in our first meeting that a few days after both surgeries were over that I would likely be in less pain than I was feeling as I hobbled around on our first visit together- and he was absolutely right. Before the surgeries my arthritic hips were incredibly accurate barometers of bad weather. I could predict the approach of any low pressure system 24 hours in advance better than any meteorologist on tv. That psychic power was gone for good now. Yesterday in PT I hopped on a stationary bike and peddled effortlessly with zero pain. I reckon another 8-12 weeks and I’ll be off of what they refer to as “hip precautions” designed to avoid a dislocation caused by improper twisting before the latest joint has fully adapted to its new home where my old arthritic hip had once resided. Getting two new hips in 10 weeks is highly unusual and was motivated by my desire to avoid more time missed from work than was absolutely necessary and having my daughter home from college who could care for me and drive me to therapy sessions until I was cleared to drive again. (Both times at around 2 weeks post-surgery when I had weaned off my pain medications.)
A few suggestions for anyone getting a new hip or new pair of hips:
- A portable raised commode is invaluable. You really need handle bars on any chair you sit in post-surgery.
- A few extra grab bars in the shower strategically placed can get you in and out with great confidence especially if you’re navigating a tub wall.
- YouTube has a plethora of great videos now that explain the process of the surgery and the exercises that will safely help you to regain your strength and mobility.
- Lastly, I lost 60 pounds before my surgery. (I went from 290 to 230) This process took me 4 months of counting calories and cutting out all delicious carbs. (Frankly, it was a dreadful four months but having 60 less unnecessary pounds pressing down on my new hips has likely made my recovery an easier endeavor.) The weight loss has lowered my A1C and has also nearly eradicated my sleep apnea. (Diet and exercise – who knew?)
In conclusion, there are a few things now in sight that were inconceivable four months ago. I haven’t slept in a bed in nearly 4 years. I haven’t put on socks or tied my own shoes without assistance for as long as I can remember. I’ve been walking with a cane and hanging a handicapped placard on my car for nearly ten years now. Sitting on the floor or bending over to pick up a file at work was impossible. All of these things will hopefully be a distant memory soon. I see myself getting my life back and I am grateful.