The lead-up to hip replacement surgery
Many of us are getting to the age where we are starting to wear out. Or, at least our joints are. This last week, I’ve spoken to three people who are in need of joint replacements. They are not all yogis. But they are active in life, and this deterioration of their joints limits them. Naturally enough, people are fearful about submitting to orthopaedic surgery. They dread the pain to come and the expense of major surgery.
Hip surgery is a daunting prospect for anyone. Fortunately, the first suggestion of the surgical option usually comes well before the actual operation. You have time to get used to the idea. Nevertheless, a visit to the orthopaedic surgeon starts to shape your thinking towards the inevitable. This is especially true when the levels of pain and physical limitations are increasing.
If like me, you try to find natural ways of dealing with health issues, surgical intervention is scary in the extreme. I am now eight plus years post double hip surgery. My artificial hips have given me my life back. I’m indebted to modern technology and to the highly skilled surgeon who did my operation.
Yoga practitioners who are due for a hip replacement will have to make some sacrifices before life becomes all sunshine and roses again. In the lead-up to surgery, you are likely to have been in discomfort, developed a limp and become limited in many activities.
The poses that you formerly preformed with ease may have become inaccessible. If you had a strong practice, you need to adapt to gentler and more reflective yoga routines. Making such changes takes humility and dedication to self-care. Yet these are the very qualities that wane when we are in pain.
If you are an independent person, you will need to become reliant on others, both before and after surgery. That’s just a given. I found it difficult to ask for support. But asking for help became one of the most transformative “gifts” from the experience.
As you may have done already, I surfed the internet to see what types of surgery were available. As well, I looked at all sorts of prostheses. I came to realise that I had no idea what was best. The amount of information that is available is staggering. You could even watch an entire surgery! (I didn’t.) Rather than relying on Dr. Google, I trusted the surgeon I chose and simply followed his advice. When you get right down to it, the specialists are the ones who are the experts.
If you’re curious about the kind of surgery I underwent, it’s called a posterior hip replacement. Ceramic and titanium devices were installed to replace the parts that had worn out. My orthopaedic surgeon told me these would give me the strength and durability for restoring the mobility and balance I’d lost.
Your yoga life after surgery
When quizzed about my post-op rehabilitation, I’m invariably asked if I can do everything I used to do. Absolutely not! I am limited compared in the range of movement I used to have. For a hyper-mobile body type like mine, such restrictions have helped make my hips stronger and more stable. For the most part, yoga students need to work on strength and stability instead of ultra-flexibility.
I returned to teaching yoga four months post-surgery and took it slowly to recover and rehabilitate. When I had my five-year check-up, my surgeon was pleased with my progress. He even asked if he could have access to some of my published writing to show his patients who are yoga practitioners.
The cost of the operation and subsequent physiotherapy can be considerable. On top of the costs associated with surgery, you need to take some weeks off work for a full recovery. But this is an investment in your future – not something to economise on. Time off could even be viewed as a personal retreat for a yogi.
Here’s an image taken several years after my replacement surgery:
Over the years I’ve received emails and phone calls from teachers and students who are thinking about undergoing hip replacement surgery. If you are considering the operation or know of someone who is, I’m happy to have them contact me via ‘Yoga Suits Her’.