On New Hips, Old Habits and the Inestimable Value of Giving Blood

Huffington Post—October 22, 2012

by Arianna Huffington

I'm happy to announce that I've just returned home from the hospital with a new arrival. I'm not sure how much it weighs, but it seems to be healthy, and it's already walking -- albeit unsteadily and with a cane. And although I produced two children without an epidural, for this new addition I had no choice. I'm talking about my brand-new hip, which was swapped in last Tuesday. As a friend of mine said, there's a new joint in this joint -- and new joint and hobbling owner are slowly recovering. But the surgery has changed more than just my hip; it has also opened my eyes -- and my heart -- to the issue of blood donations, which I'll get to in a minute.

**********

Now, a bad hip may not be life-threatening but, as I found out in the years leading up to my surgery, it can certainly be life-altering. It all started five years ago with a hiking accident. An MRI showed a labral tear. I was told surgery wasn't absolutely necessary, so I put it off. Then, a year later, I badly strained my ankle and needed crutches for several weeks, putting more pressure on the hip, which continued to worsen. I was given a year's reprieve when I met Anat Baniel, who practices a modified form of the Feldenkrais method of physical therapy.

But by this summer, the reprieve was over. My level of pain, buttressed by a new MRI, showed that the hip was now beyond repair.

**********

I had already given up hiking and even taking long walks.

**********

So that's how I found myself at Hospital for Special Surgery, in a pre-op room with a beautiful view of the pre-dawn East River, feeling a lot of gratitude for modern technology. I'm a big believer in integrative medicine and the health benefits of things like acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, meditation and yoga. And all of these no doubt helped me tremendously in those five years leading up to the operation. But this was the moment to thank the gods for Western medicine and modern surgery.

I was also blessed to have an amazing surgeon, Dr. Paul Pellicci, who was the youngest surgeon to become a member of the Hip Society about twenty years ago and a great team at a state-of-the-art hospital. And also the most fabulous Irish nurse, Anne Corrigan, who berated me in her distinctive accent when I forgot the post-surgery rules, but praised me -- "good woman!" -- when I did well. And now I'm learning to walk again on a new hip and leg that feels three inches longer than before (Dr. Pellicci assures me it isn't). After the surgery, he told me that he couldn't believe I was walking around on my old hip. It was like I'd been driving around in an old jalopy that I hadn't gotten serviced in years.

**********

I'm also looking forward to some other things: Hiking, walking without a cane, sitting in the lotus position -- and not looking at every set of stairs like they're Mt. Everest.

Read the full story at huffingtonpost.com.

^ Back to Top
Request an Appointment