For her 50th wedding anniversary, Candis Zechmeister is going to Alaska—and she’ll be enjoying the trip pain-free, thanks to Dr. Donald Hohman, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Texas Health Center for Diagnostics and Surgery.
Candis started having pain in her left hip about five years ago, and it was slowing her down.
“My husband, Dan, and I used to walk a lot,” she said. “We’ve always been very active. But the pain worsened to the point where we had to stop all the time.” The couple had also enjoyed biking, skiing, and golfing, but Candis’ arthritis made those activities too difficult as well.
Initial x-rays didn’t show any problems, so the first strategy was to “wait and see.” Candis worked with her doctor to manage pain with injections, but by January 2016, her arthritis had progressed to the point where she had “bone on bone” in the joint.
“The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, with the ends of the bone covered with a smooth layer called articular cartilage, which allows the bones to glide smoothly in motion,” explained Dr. Hohman. “Arthritis causes a loss of the articular cartilage, which can eventually lead to bone rubbing against bone.”
Candis consulted with Dr. Hohman, who performs hip replacement surgery using minimally invasive, muscle-sparing techniques. For Candis, the decision to go ahead wasn’t difficult.
“I have friends that have had the procedure, and done well with it,” she said. “My husband has had a knee replacement, which is more involved, so I felt I could do it.”
For Candis, the surgery involved a small incision, only four inches long. Intravenous pain medications kept the post-surgical pain at a minimum.
“I had almost no pain, except when they got me up to walk—that hurt a little bit,” she said.
That’s typical, according to Dr. Hohman, who specializes in the management of pain and the rapid return of function around the time of surgery for his hip and knee replacement surgeries.
“In the last few years, we’ve made so many advances in the surgical techniques and in managing the pain,” he said. “Most patients find the discomfort minimal.”
After the surgery, Candis spent one night at the hospital and was released the next afternoon.
“The surgery center was great,” she said. “Most of the patients there come for day surgery, so if you do stay overnight, the nurses pay a lot of attention to you!”
For the first two weeks, Candis used a walker to get around, then started rehab. Within a month after a surgery, she was driving and enjoying outings to the movies, the symphony and a ballgame. Now she’s getting back to enjoying life—walking, reading (she’s part of a book club), enjoying movies with Dan, keeping up with her two daughters and four grandchildren, and traveling.
And this summer, she and Dan will celebrate 50 years of marriage with an Alaskan adventure: a flight to Anchorage, train trips to Denali and Seward, and then a cruise to Vancouver.
“I’m just amazed at how quickly I’ve come back,” she said. “Dan told me he was proud of me.”