Hip surgery ends grandmother's 18 months of debilitating pain
After a distinguished 45-year career as an ER nurse at a northern Illinois hospital, Kathy Haggard decided to move to Belton to be closer to her son and his family. At 75, she couldn’t wait to take day trips and visit area attractions with her family, especially her two teenage granddaughters.
But before she could make the move, Kathy started having trouble with her hip. By the time she arrived in Texas, her activities were very limited.
“That summer I couldn't do anything,” recalled Kathy. “I hadn’t moved into my apartment yet, so I was living with my son’s family. I was truly a couch potato because of the pain. I could get up and let the dogs outside, but that was about it.”
Even when she wasn’t active, the pain in her hip was always on her mind.
“I always anticipated the pain I would feel when I got out of bed in the morning, or taking my first couple of steps, or getting out of a chair. That mindset of pain was almost as bad as the pain itself.”
Fortunately, a chance encounter put Kathy on a path to better health.
“I went to Mass on Christmas Eve and I sat at the end of the pew,” Kathy recalled. “An older couple came up to the pew and wanted to sit next to me. I said, ‘I apologize for not moving. I've got problems with my hip and it's bothering me.”
The husband said to Kathy, “Oh, my son's an orthopedic surgeon. He's really good.” So he asked his wife to give Erik’s phone number to Kathy. “That’s how I got connected to Dr. Erik Lovria,” said Kathy. “A few days later I called and made an appointment.”
Efforts to lose weight
During the first meeting with Dr. Lovria, x-rays showed osteoarthritis in Kathy’s right hip, a condition in which the cartilage within the hip has worn away and the joint begins to break from the friction. Over the years, Kathy’s weight added to the deterioration of the hip joint.
In addition to being overweight, Kathy also took medications to minimize the effects of atrial fibrillation (AFib), a heart condition that produces irregular and often rapid heart rhythms, which can produce blood clots. She had a history of heart issues, including a heart attack in 2006.
“When I met with Dr. Lovria, he was wonderful and so nice,” she said. “He told me that he wanted me to lose some weight before having surgery to replace the hip. ‘I'm not going to tell you how much weight to lose,’ he said, ‘but I'd like you to show me that you can lose weight.’ So I said okay.”
But with Kathy’s heart issues, her family wanted her to get another opinion from a doctor at a larger hospital, in case anything should happen during the surgery.
“So I made an appointment with a doctor who had a wonderful reputation,” Kathy said. “He also said I should lose some weight before surgery, so during the next twelve months, I tried really hard and did lose some weight. But that doctor and I didn’t really hit it off, so I scheduled another appointment with Dr. Lovria.”
It didn’t take long for Kathy to visit with Dr. Lovria and talk about the surgery. “I’m so glad I didn’t wait. Dr. Lovria took new x-rays and compared them to the ones he took a year ago. Basically, my hip was crumbling from the friction.”
Hip replacement surgery
To replace Kathy’s hip, Dr. Lovra, removed damaged sections of the hip joint: the femoral head (ball) at the top of the femur (thigh bone) and the Acetabulum (socket). He then replaced the damaged sections with new parts constructed of metal, ceramic and very hard plastic. The smoothness of these new parts will help reduce pain and improve Kathy’s mobility.
“The way he did the surgery was different than I expected and so close to being painless. He made a diagonal incision across the midline of my right buttock. He then used bandages to close the wound, so I had no staples, no external stitches. Even when I sat down, I had no pain from that incision.”
High praise for the Nursing staff
“I didn't know much about Seton Medical Center Harker Heights before my surgery, but the staff was absolutely great,” Kathy said. “I would put on my light and they would be right there. They explained everything that was going to happen and the entire place was clean and friendly. I just can't say enough about them.”
Now that Kathy has moved into a new community, she goes to the senior center once a week to play cards. “My friends knew what I was like before the surgery and they can see how well I am doing now. I tell everyone about the surgery and the wonderful medical staff.”
After completing her physical therapy and rehabilitation, Kathy is now cleared for all activities.
“I like to walk, swim and ride bikes, so I plan to be more active,” she said. “The only thing I have to work on is my mindset. After 18 months of worrying about the pain, I still anticipate it. I just have to develop a new mindset that it won’t hurt anymore. The pain in my hip is gone and I have Dr. Lovria to thank for that. I owe him everything!”
With traveling and enjoying days with her granddaughters, the memory of that pain will undoubtedly fade away.