Nov 12, 2008
BIG BIG THANK YOUS TO ALL OF YOU and all of my many unbelievably supportive friends and health professionals.
The saga in brief: After 4 years of being told I had herniated discs causing sciatic pain, my Thai massage therapist, Mr. Brian Rahm, noticed that all the tight muscles in my body were around my hip, suggested I get a hip x-ray and consider resurfacing. I got the x-ray and sure enough my hip joint was bone on bone, no cartilage left. No wonder I had big pain and trouble walking!
Then the discussion about whether to have a full on hip replacement (which is insurance reimbursed for people my age) or try to get the hip resurfaced. After much discussion and extensive online research, I determined that hip resurfacing was the answer: it preserves as much of the body as possible, covering the aceteblum and femoral head after the arthritic material is grated off and since the new covering is metal, chrome and cobalt, it should have a life time guarantee (versus hip replacement which may last 5-15 years depending on usage).
Next question was where to have it done? I eventually chose a surgeon in Chennai, India. Working through a medical tourism agency, healthbase.com (www.healthbase.com - and you will get a phone call from "Moe"), my xrays and medical history were sent to surgeons all over the world. Dr. Vijay Bose at Apollo Specialty Hospital in India was the only one to immediately say YES!, no problem. In fact, the only one. Others were concerned about my age, (64), about my bone health, (I have been diagnosed with osteopenia), my kidney functioning (I've had 2 incidents of kidney stones - 35 years apart!). Dr Bose understood that I am a healthy 64 year old, who teaches yoga. He explained that of course my bone health would have been compromised if I could not walk for several years (which had been the case - I could stand but any walking longer than one block was excruciatingly painful). I also was able to contact someone locally (!), an ICU nurse, who had had the very same operation 4 years ago! That was very cool. And although the orthopedic doc in Rutland said: "Well, I wouldn't want my mother having surgery in a third world country" as I was doing my research, I began to realize that not people from all over the world are seeking out the wonderful medical treatment available in countries where health care is focused on health not on illness. The docs are trained in the US or in England and they are extremely proficient, returning, in Dr. Bose's case, to his home town where he could assist many people who suffered from a congenital hip malformation which rendered them crippled for life.
So all things fell into place for me to proceed to India: My friend, Roland, an anesthesiologist, told me how impressed he has been by Indian doctors; My dearest friend Mary was free to accompany me; I have the most blessed teachers to fill in for me at the studio while I'm gone, another friend could stay with my two poodles, my energetic friend Ruth Ann transported us to JFK and met us upon our return!
In India: We flew and Indian airline, Jet Airways - wonderful (arranged by Lisa Verschoor of Avalon Travel). Arrived midnight, the hospital transported us to our business hotel. We slept, took a walk and got lost immediately in the hustle and bustle of Chennai, toured around for 2 ays with a car and driver, had an Ayuvedic massage(wow) and then both entered the hospital. Mary lived in my room (and smoked on the roof). We had all the amenities plus a microwave, coffee maker and fridge. Food was great and every day, masala tea in the afternoon.
Dr Bapuji was my anesthesiologist which made me feel totally confident. Dr. Bala was the doc who changed my dressing. And there were 7 "sisters": Mrs. Rajesware, Ms. Hemavathi, Ms Mani Megalai, Ms. Sharmila, Ms. Saraswathi, Ms. Iris Ananthi and Ms. Sree Ranga who watched over me day and night . And of course it was always comforting to look over and see Mary's familiar face.
The operation was a success and now I have a beautiful (at least looking at the xray-metal socket and femoral cover). Dr. Bose's belief in maintaining as much of the body as possible means that he has also developed a methodology for preserving the bursa which is the covering around the joint (Dr. Bose's specialty is complex joints - hip, shoulder, knee). He's awesome. (Check out his website by googling Vijay Bose.) (http://www.hipresurfacingindia.com)
I was able to, with PAIN, take a few steps on day 1 post op using a walker. After that first day, there was not so much pain, just discomfort if I over extended. But from day one, I was permitted to put full weight on my leg. Every day I was visited by Dr. Bose and Dr. Bala and Dr. Bhim 1 or 2 times and by a physical therapist, either S.K. Pandian or Sri Vatsan twice a day to assist me with my exercising. I stayed in hospital 7 days, was released using 2 arm crutches and wearing those elegant white stockings, TEDS.
Mary and I transferred (in the hospital van) to a comfortable beach resort about 1 hour south of Chennai. We could hear the waves from our room and although I could arrange myself to sit on the beach, I never did master the dining room and so we took most of our meals on our verandah.
Mohan Kumar was the administrative person, who I call the "fixer". Whenever we had a need or question, he found an answer: from where to eat dinner, to how to bill my insurance company.
Now I am about 41/3 weeks out from the surgery and I am walking without crutches, doing quite a bit but find myself tiring out quickly. I've had the luxury of being able to recuperate at my own pace with friends cooking and visiting and weeding my garden and driving me around and helping me with my physical therapy and even making me new curtains for my bedroom.
In many ways this journey has been the deepest pilgrimage I have ever taken and I took it in complete trust and confidence, with no fear. Chennai, once Madras, is in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu.
Dr Vijay C Bose with His Patient.
Asian Regional Center for Hip Resurfacing
Apollo Specialty Hospital, 320, Mount Road, Chennai - 600035. INDIA.
Telephone: 0091-44-(0) 98400 - 32251