Hip Replacement Patient Walks Out of Hospital Hours After Surgery

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Joint Replacement

Getting to the 18th hole was a challenge for 58-year-old Jeff Kaiser. His walking had slowed down and pain began to take over his enjoyment of golf. Jeff had been living with hip pain for more than five years. In the beginning, his pain was on and off, and by the end of the fifth year it was a constant annoyance.

“I was basically living on anti-inflammatory,” says Jeff.  “But like they say in sports, play through the pain, and that’s exactly what I did.”

Jeff lived with the pain for as long as possible, until it began to affect his mood and sleep patterns. “My family said they could see the pain on my face, but the lack of sleep is what drove me to seek out surgery,” says Jeff. “I felt like a fish out of water moving around all night. I was just trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in, that’s when I knew it was time.”

Jeff spoke to his primary care physician who recommended he see Douglas Garland, M.D., Medical Director, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center (JRC), Long Beach Memorial. With the help of Dr. Garland and the joint replacement care team, Jeff began to plan a total hip arthroplasty – a surgery that would replace his hip with an artificial implant.

The Monday before surgery, Jeff attended a two hour pre-op class conducted by Debi Fenton, RN, joint care coordinator, Long Beach Memorial and the JRC therapy staff. The class was developed to provide education, a preview of the post-op unit and answer questions patients and their “coaches” may have about the joint replacement process.

“Being told you’re going to stand on the day of your joint surgery can be scary, this class helps our patients understand why we do what we do,” says Debi.

During the class, Jeff was taught what to expect during joint surgery, how to care for his new joint and physical therapy exercises to do at home. In addition, he got to see and touch an example of the implant that would be used during his surgery.

“Heading over to Long Beach Memorial, I told my wife I wasn’t nervous at all,” says Jeff. “The entire staff and JRC team had emotionally prepared me for surgery. They had me on the fast track to recovery.”

Jeff went into surgery on June 25, 2012. “I didn’t spend the night. Surgery was at 7:30 a.m. and I was in my driveway by 5 p.m.”

Jeff is one of only three JRC patients to go home the same day of surgery and have a hip replaced as an outpatient procedure. “If we identify a patient who we think will go home the same day, it’s a very different process than traditional surgery recovery,” says Dr. Garland. “If they’ve done all the therapy, their pain is controlled and their vitals are ok, then we release them to go home.”

JRC patients typically participate in group therapy, but because Jeff was an outpatient, he didn’t need to spend the night in the hospital. He was in an accelerated program consisting of intensive individualized therapy. Within the first few hours after surgery, therapists had him walking up a flight of stairs.

“What was amazing were my feet hitting the floor and there being no pain! When that happened I knew I would be ok,” says Jeff.

In total, he walked about a quarter of a mile around the hospital the same day of surgery. First, the JRC team started him out with a walker, and then moved him to crutches. When it was time to go home, he walked out of the hospital using just a cane.

“The trend in joint replacement starting at the first of the century has mostly been working on rapid rehab,” says Dr. Garland.

Part of the rapid recovery that Jeff experienced was the use of a long acting morphine via spinal anesthetic called Duramorph that lasts for 24 hours. “We use it because it controls the pain but doesn’t stop the patient’s motor fibers,” says Dr. Garland. “That’s what allowed him to get up on the floor and walk the same day.”

It’s been three months since his operation and Jeff has returned to the golf course determined to get back into the swing of things. To keep his new joint healthy, each day he walks two miles in the morning and two miles in the evening. “I feel so good, I often forget that I’ve had my hip replaced,” says Jeff.

The goal of the Joint Replacement Center is to relieve pain, restore independence and return you to an active lifestyle. If you have pain that is affecting your daily activities, you or a loved one may be a good candidate for joint replacement surgery.