Gabriel’s Story

On March 14, 2002 I was at my mother’s house in Caracas, Venezuela which was under construction. I tried to cross over the staircase opening on a wooden board path. The board gave way and I fell about 6 feet over the stairs. I fell first on my left wrist and then my left hip on the staircase. I broke both my wrist and the neck of my left femur. I was rushed to the emergency room of the closest hospital. After x-rays it was confirmed that both my wrist and hip needed surgery because of the type of fracture. They called an orthopedic surgeon. The OS suggested a partial hip replacement instead of a pinning the hip bone because he said there was a high chance of developing AVN which would then require reopening the hip. The recommended replacement was a bipolar, which is a femoral component only and does not include a cup because my acetabulum was intact. I agreed to the surgery as soon as possible so I could return to my active life and sports.

After surgery I had 8 weeks of recovery with daily physical therapy. I walked with a walker for the entire 8 weeks with incredible pain and very slow progress. I needed a personal aide throughout the entire 8 weeks. The nurse stayed all day. She would shower me everyday and assist me in going to the bathroom for the entire time. I was not allowed to bend even to 90 degrees during that period. After 8 weeks I would be released to bend to 90 degrees at the hip and gradually to increase after that. I would walk 15-20 minutes daily with the Physical Therapist. I could not walk normally but had to take small, shuffling steps with a walker. I began to try to climb stairs after 8 weeks and still could not lift my leg higher than 6-8 inches. I started pool therapy from the 8th week through 4.5 months post-op. I felt better but I had a bad limp and I was never able to walk without a cane. I was never able to lift my leg to the side or raise my knee to 90 degrees from standing. I tried going to the gym but noticed that after every work out my pain would increase. Thinking this was a muscle problem, I continued to work out but it did no good. My limp was getting worse. After 5 months of debilitating pain and decreasing muscle strength I began to get second opinions in Venezuela. All of these opinions agreed that the prosthetic was not the proper one and was not placed correctly. This caused a shortening in my leg of almost ½ inch. Not satisfied with the information, I decided to do further, deeper research on the issue and the alternatives for younger people. Through the Internet I learned about the different alternatives in hip replacement for young people. Of all the alternatives I discovered, I most attracted to the ceramic/ceramic option for younger, active people because of it’s durability and minimal debris so the likelihood of secondary effects are low. I narrowed down my options to a ceramic/ceramic hip replacement. I found Dr Swanson through a patient testimony describing excellent results with a ceramic hip replacement received from Dr Swanson. I decided to write him right away for help. I was surprised to receive a personal response the next day with a good option but he insisted he would have evaluate me personally. I did meet with Dr Swanson in November, 2002. After the evaluation, he determined I was a candidate for a total hip replacement with ceramic/ceramic. He also confirmed that the prosthetic was placed improperly and would continue to cause damage to my acetabulum and eventually need to be removed. In addition, the mechanics created by the improper placement was weakening my muscles and would not be resolved through exercise.

My life had changed 180 degrees from a very active person. I became a sedentary, moody, depressed person who lived with incredible pain and limitations. This made me realize that this was not the kind of life I wanted to undertake. I spent Christmas on a cruise ship and went to Disney land and I had to be in a wheel chair most of the time. That’s when I said to myself, “I need to get my hip replaced as soon as possible.” I called Dr Swanson to ask for the next available surgery date.

On March 11, 2003 I had my ceramic/ceramic hip replacement performed by Dr Swanson. I was impressed when the following day after surgery, in the afternoon, the Physical Therapist made me walk with a cane. The pain was very bearable, I was under pain medication for 3 days. I never used the patient administered morphine. After 3 days I was released to an apartment in Las Vegas that I rented and had prepared with the necessary adaptive equipment before my surgery. That Friday, I was feeling relieved and stronger and everyday I was able to move beyond my expectations. I never used the walker but began walking 30-40 minutes with a cane on day 6 for two weeks. After my second week I had a PT who came three times a week for muscle strengthening and some habit corrections. On my third week, I started walking without a cane. At 8 weeks post-op I still have some more muscle toning and habit correction to do. I do feel some discomfort in some of my muscles when I walk, but I am able to walk for hours and sometimes I do. To all the young people who need a hip replacement, don’t be discouraged because technology is advancing so quickly in this field. I am optimistic again about my health and feel my strength increasing with each day. I sacrificed so many things because of my hip. I am happy to have it in the past and I am hopeful this will be my last surgery.

FIVE MONTH UPDATE

After my second surgery I had a rebirth, I feel incredibly good and strong. I feel that I want to hold the whole world with one hand. About my hip, I can tell you that I am back to the dance floor! I walk super, super fast – it is unbelievable. I feel renewed with my new hip and I am even planning on trying kite surfing this weekend or the next. The only times when I feel a little limp or some discomfort is when I have to make a little run to catch the subway or something like that. I have not jogged at all (only stationery biking and weights). In general my physical health is good, thank God.

Gabriel Haddad

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