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#17 Follow-up with Surgeon, One Year Later

A year ago, early on a snowy morning, Dr. Stephen Murphy did a THA (total hip arthroplasty) on my right hip. That is to say, the hip with the torn labrum that was giving me a lot of pain was removed and replaced with a new ball and socket, and a connecting metal shaft inserted into my thighbone. Still makes me shudder to think of it. As predicted, I was able to go home that same day, using a walker, and putting weight on the leg. Amazing, truly. My husband was the designated caregiver, along with a physical therapist who came to our home to get me started on the rehabilitation process.

I was imagining a month of old movies interspersed with doing PT exercises, with meals brought to me, etc. But no. I was up and around pretty quickly, not needing much help. I couldn’t drive for six weeks, but no matter. What I really wanted, besides getting back to teaching Pilates, was to be in good enough shape for the trip to Spain and Morocco our family planned to celebrate our son’s graduation from a master’s program at Columbia University.

Now, I am on my way to see Dr. Murphy for my one-year follow up exam. I WANT to say everything is perfect. But Covid-19 has just hit. My rehab seems to have stalled, and I’m concerned that maybe I messed my new hip up with the physically challenging trip we took three months after my surgery, or in my zeal to get my right leg as strong as my left.

When I arrive at the hospital where his office is, it’s weirdly deserted, and full of Covid-19 preventative protocols. I’m the only one in the doctor’s office, a far cry from the first time I went there. But I feel fine, and everyone there seems fine.

Back to the appointment. Kind of perfunctory. My xrays say the hip is structurally sound. Phew! Then why the pain? He did a few muscle strength tests. One set of muscles showed up weak—my external rotators. I was a little embarrassed. I had been attentive to this group, but not in the past couple of weeks. But there it was. So, with a plan to get an MRI to look at the soft tissue, and a plan for more PT for the external rotators, I leave with mixed feelings.

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