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EDITOR’S NOTE | Back in the saddle

Nearly five months after a serious medical event sidelined me, I’m proud to be back on the job.

Thanks are certainly in order for those who have filled in so ably during my absence, while still doing their normal job.

While none of us life to think of ourselves as replaceable, the truth is, we all are. That’s a good life lesson regardless of your profession or station in life.

Like several Maumelle friends of mine, I expected to be off the job for just a few weeks and to waltz right back in before I was even missed. But that was not to be.

A brand new hip replacement was needed but I was totally unprepared for all of the complications created mostly by arthritis fueled by radiation treatments a dozen or so years back.

An old physician friend told me many years ago, “Radiation is the gift that keeps on giving,”

I didn’t understand his expression at the time but I sure do now.

Surgeons in Dallas explained that the arthritis had eaten two inches of femur and not just the cartilage between the hip and femur as it usually does. He asked how I had walked around on the pain caused by such a crushed leg.

Fortunately through a wonderful health savings program called BridgeHealth my employer offers for surgery, I stumbled upon one of the world’s best hip surgeons — Dr. Richard Buch, who explained he’d replaced 18,000 hips but mine was the worst he’d ever seen.

Even more fortunate for me, he’d seen such a bad hip before and knew exactly how to handle it. The surgery in Dallas was perfect, it couldn’t have gone any better, he said.

As soon as I woke up in recovery I knew the burden of pain I’d carried for three or more years had been lifted. The surgical pain was there but not the really bad intense pain from before.

I was up walking within two hours of surgery.

Rehab was slow complicated by a couple of severely strained muscles while trying too hard to work out the kinks all at once. And by a lingering edema issue in the legs that was not properly diagnosed until the Dallas visit.

Again, all tied to the radiation which interfered with the proper function of part of my lymph gland system so that water was pooling where it shouldn’t.

Oddly enough, one of the best treatment facilities for the swelling was right in my back yard, in North Little Rock’s Park Hill.

Arkansas Lymphedema and Therapy, led by Troy Alberson, another world-class provider, treats the issue by wrapping the affected limbs like a mummy and by stimulating the old system to kick in and expel the fluid.

So far I’ve lost a gallon of water from each lower leg and will soon have a new German compression garment to prevent this from reoccurring.

It is so nice to finally have a handle on two really big issues that either one could have taken my life had I not gotten them treated.

The lesson for me is to take whatever action you need to take for yourself to see that your health issues are addressed not ignored.

Perhaps being pain free after all these years will give me new lease on life.

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