Active Beach Lifestyle Returns After Hip Surgery
An energetic real estate agent, Sue Mullen spends her time away from work at her home on the beach, where she relishes her active lifestyle.
"I love the water," says Sue, 76, who has lived in Virginia Beach for the last 40 years. "I love swimming, riding my bicycle, kayaking and walking on the beach."
About 20 years ago, Sue put her plans on hold after experiencing right hip pain that hampered her ability to walk. Sue underwent her first hip replacement surgery. At that time, it took six weeks of recovery from her total hip replacement before she was out of her walker and on a cane. All told, she was out of commission for at least 10 weeks.
"I was in the hospital for my first surgery for five days and then moved to inpatient rehab for four weeks," Sue recalls. "My second surgery experience, 20 years later, was a snap, night and day difference from the first."
Problems arise a decade later
Sue was eventually back in action after her first hip replacement surgery for the next 15 years until she developed a severe, systemic MRSA infection that stemmed from her right hip. Staph bacteria that cause MRSA are resistant to many antibiotics, so they are challenging to treat.
While hospitalized, Sue underwent several surgeries and needed a PICC line to deliver antibiotics intravenously for three of the four months while in rehab. Her recovery was difficult, and Sue had to learn to walk again amid all the trauma.
Unfortunately, trouble with her right hip crept in again a couple of years later. She noticed a red spot on her hip at an exercise class that got bigger and bigger. Her family physician sent her to the ER, and doctors admitted her right away at Sentara Leigh Hospital.
"They did imaging and said we need to schedule you for surgery right away," Sue remembers.
Sentara orthopedic surgeon Joseph Gondusky, MD, was on call and put a plan in action.
An abscess had formed on her hip, and Dr. Gondusky recommended a hip revision, which is less invasive than a total hip replacement. Surgeons perform hip revisions to repair an artificial hip joint that has been damaged over time due to an infection or wear and tear.
Dr. Gondusky removed bacteria from the hip joint and rebuilt it. To ensure her infection would clear up, Sue had a PICC line again to deliver antibiotics after she left the hospital. However, she recovered quickly from her hip revision.
Left hip needs attention
Thankfully, Sue's right hip healed because her left hip became painful two years later.
The timing was tricky because it coincided with an annual trip to Ocracoke Island, N.C., where she enjoys her active lifestyle while on vacation.
"It also affected my job," Sue explains of the increasing pain. "Errands, like shopping, became challenging, especially at the grocery store. Because the milk and dairy products always seem to be at the back of the store, I often had to ask for help."
So that Sue could take her vacation and continue to work, she got a cortisone injection which alleviated the pain temporarily. After her trip, she scheduled surgery at Sentara Leigh Hospital for a left total hip with Dr. Gondusky.
In the 20 years since her first hip replacement, technology and techniques have improved so much that Sue's experience was drastically different.
"The surgery was easy, and the recovery was a snap," says Sue, who calls herself ‘The Jiffy Hippy.' "I was in the hospital for one night, and after a night at home, I was able to walk up the stairs to my bedroom."
For a successful recovery, Sue advises other patients to be sure to do their pre-surgery PT with an aggressive follow-up plan of PT and an exercise program. She also suggests being as active as they can tolerate while still following doctors' orders.
Sue is thrilled to be back at work selling real estate and enjoying time on her bike, on the beach, and in the ocean again with two healthy hips.