After navigating the Bay Bridge morning traffic, I arrived for my six-week post-op appointment with Dr. Vail fifteen minutes late. But, as it goes with most doctor’s offices, that meant I was right on time. I barely got started on the Sports Illustrated article about why Brad Pitt was such a compelling Billy Beane, when Dr. Vail’s assistant asked me if I was ready.
Standard post-op appointment procedure is to start with x-rays to see how the new hip fits. I can’t tell you how many x-rays I’ve had in the last four years, but since I don’t intend to have any more children, I truly didn’t mind another blast of radiation aimed at my crotch.
The “before and after” shots of my left hip were striking. I don’t have copies of the x-rays yet, but I’ll post them when I do. Not only is my left hip now a large white mass, but the center of my hip has also been relocated down and a little toward the middle. Unlike my old hip, my new hip is now in the proper location and the device fits perfectly.
Dr. Vail is soft spoken and mild mannered. When he entered the office, he asked, “So, how do you feel?” Not thinking that this meeting would be an emotional experience, I was surprised when I choked up, as I said, “My hip feels great. I feel great!”
Dr. Vail asked to see my range of motion. As I showed him that I could pivot my left heel out to the side, while pointing my left knee in, I said, “I haven’t been able to do this in years.” I told him my recovery was going better than I ever expected, and then I thanked him for giving me my life back.
He said, “That’s music to my ears.”
But my new hip isn’t perfect. I explained to Dr. Vail that the muscles are still pinchy when I extend my left leg back when I walk. I also said that something is clunking in my hip when I move my left leg or pelvis in certain directions. It’s not painful but it feels like tendons or tight muscles are snapping over my hip. Dr. Vail explained that muscles do not heal uniformly and that I have scare tissue. He wasn’t certain exactly what is causing the snapping, but he said that my body is still healing and I shouldn’t worry. He said that I should keep up with my exercises, particularly biking, swimming, walking or other low impact activities. He said I should just listen to my body and it will tell me whether or not I am over doing it. Dr. Vail’s only request was that I avoid impact activities, including running, for three more months. The boys will have to wait until the New Year for the Daddy Monster to chase them.
My appointment with Dr. Vail was only a few minutes, but long enough for him to show me the x-rays and tell me that I was doing great. I won’t see Dr. Vail for another six months, but every day, I’ll be thankful for his skills and care. And if they ever make a movie, I think Brad Pitt would make a compelling Dr. Vail too.