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Having read your piece about Dysplasia of the hip, I am thinking my story may go back 40 years! During my 2nd pregnancy, I would lose feeling in my legs and half fall. My Obstetrician diagnosed sciatica. My first pregnancy ended in a long and very difficult birth with forceps delivery so I don’t know if that was a factor. The second birth was perfect. Over the next 20 years I was troubled by the sciatica and visited many GP’s and had spinal x-rays which never revealed any problem.  I was beginning to think I was a hypochondriac! (I used to work for 2 Doctors and I never wanted that label!)

Eventually in the late 90’s I found I was experiencing the curious sensation of not being able to order my legs to move (usually in the local shopping centre!). There was some pain in my lower back which moved into the front of my legs leading to my knees being x-rayed! An x-ray of the lower back again found nothing wrong. My Doctor and I were baffled but he suddenly asked me to walk away from him and said I think the problem is in your hips – not your back. X-rays proved him right.  My left hip had virtually no cartilage and my right had a little.

After a few attempts I finally found a well known and respected orthopaedic  surgeon who was prepared to operate to relieve the pain. Other specialists said I was too young at 52. In fact one told me that only when I crawled into his office on 2 sticks,  would he then consider further treatment. I was working full-time and by this stage the pain was constant, nagging and severe when my legs were bumped. It was clear that I would soon not be able to continue work as getting in and out of the car many times a day was proving very difficult.

It was decided to perform an arthroscopy on my right leg to strengthen it to prepare for a total hip replacement on my left hip. I did not feel that this op made very much difference but may have done clinically. The total Hip Replacement took place in 2000 and was very similar to Earl’s description of his recent op including blood transfusion, catheter and blood thinning treatment for 2 months afterwards.

In 2004 my right hip was so painful, it was decided to proceed with surgery on it. My orthopaedic surgeon showed me the Smith & Nephew implant and described the relatively new operation of re-surfacing the hip joint as opposed to the actual replacement  I had previously. I was told that progress had been made in producing a metal alloy similar to stainless steel which could be milled to produce an amazingly smooth surface enabling the less intrusive operation of re-surfacing (or Birmingham) to be as strong as the total hip replacement.  I was told that it was a newish procedure and the procedure was being monitored to determine the progress of patients who undertook it.

I was absolutely amazed at how much less pain and downtime I experienced with the new procedure and was so happy with my hip and lack of pain. I was back at work in no time and  I had my life back again!

About 2-3 years later I became concerned with a swelling in my groin which didn’t seem to be able to be identified by either my GP, Orthopaedic surgeon or another surgeon who operated to remove my gall bladder and at the same time performed incisions to check on the possibility of a hernia. Just before this I noticed a clicking noise in my hip and drew it to the attention of my OP and he treated a bursitis by withdrawing fluid. He said that this sometimes happened with hip replacements. The swelling seemed to come and go and pain was only present at times.  This made it difficult for it to be present when X-rays and ultra sounds were done.

By this time, I was fed up with operations (I also had an ovary removed (ulcer not cancer) gall bladder, thyroid (which had grown inwardly large and proved to have some cancer cells), various female problems and a diagnosis of Gord after heart attack was eventually ruled out!  I could not believe the list of medical problems that had beset me as I have always been a strong, healthy person of average weight and size and always conscious of having a healthy diet. I was now thinking I must be a hypochondriac! I decided to ignore it!

Meanwhile I was still very happy with my hips as I basically forgot that they had been replaced as I found I could do almost everything that I had ever been able to do!
Then I saw the 4 Corners program and realized mine was not the De Puy version and wasn’t concerned. Looking back I now realize that I was having a few problems but they were minor and after all the implants weren’t going to last forever. I was due to go back for a biannual check-up and brought up the subject of the cobalt/chromium poisoning and established that Smith & Nephew implants were experiencing the same problems as the De Puy.  Blood tests were ordered before my visit and I was given the news prior to my visit that I had tested positive.

I was devastated after my decade of medical problems to learn that I had to face into another Total Hip Replacement and removal of the existing implant. I was further to learn that the Xray showed my bone had been leaching away to about half the size and that a pseudo-tumour was present in the surrounding tissue. The op is scheduled soon. My surgeon tells me he has completed a number of these ops with good results. My question is how many others are out there and how many still don’t know about it?

I am preparing for the op with Pilates and aqua aerobics as I am determined to regain my mobility as soon as possible.  I have noticed a number of minor ailments hardly worth mentioning such as feeling very hot, an unexplained rash (I saw a dermatologist who was able to control the itch) on my chest and neck, unusual breathiness that my husband commented on before this was diagnosed.  I also felt my sight and hearing were not right despite tests. They are all minor but just sufficient for me to mention in passing to my GP. Are they a symptom? My Op told me that there is some very good research on the possibility of Chromium/Cobalt being a cause of cancer. The Cobalt/Chromium poisoning may not be the cause of any of these things but one does wonder! It will be interesting to see if they disappear after the op.

I am not happy that I now have to face the cost of $3000 in expense above my Private health Insurance and months, if ever, before I will be able to totally enjoy my gardening again.  I am thankful that I am now retired and don’t have to push myself to go back to my job. I do, however, have caring responsibilities for close family so every day is very busy and involved. How many other patients are there who are not aware of this problem? Are we entitled to some compensation?

Thank you Earl for your extensive work on this matter.