At 66, Liz wasn’t going to let a worn-out hip set her back

Not long after her hip replacement surgery, Liz was jumping in the leaves with her 5-year-old grandson. She is also back to attending Jazzercise classes every day.

Liz, 66, was hiking in Arizona in February when she thought she pulled a muscle on her left hip. Hot baths and physical therapy didn’t help. By the time she got home to Louisville, she was struggling to walk.

Liz went to see her doctor, and images of her hip showed the joint was worn out, according to Liz. She was told she’d need hip replacement surgery.

“I had no idea. It was a complete shock,” Liz said.

Less than a week later, Liz’s husband wheeled her into Norton Brownsboro Hospital in a wheelchair for hip replacement surgery.

“When he was pushing me in the wheelchair, he didn’t know if that was going to be the new normal,” Liz said.

Surgery at 2 p.m. and home the same day

Kevin J. Himschoot, M.D., orthopedic surgeon with Norton Orthopedic Institute, performed the surgery. The incision was made on the front of Liz’s pelvis rather than the back. That way, less muscle is spared while accessing the joint, making for a faster recovery.

“He was very kind. He really listened to what was happening with me. He was sympathetic to my problem. He knew I was struggling, and he was very reassuring,” Liz said.

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The surgery was at 2 p.m., and Liz went home from the hospital later that day. Before she left, a physical therapist worked with her at the hospital to make sure she’d be able to make it up the steps into her home. She used a walker to get around the house, but didn’t need it anymore after a few days.

After the surgery, a physical therapist came to Liz’s house to work with her. Her hip joint and the muscles around it were weak after surgery. The day after surgery, for example, Liz struggled to lie on her back, lift her left leg and move it to the side.

Working with the physical therapist, she was able to strengthen the muscles around her hip bit by bit.

“For the surgery to be successful, you have to be truly committed to physical therapy,” Liz said.

Back to hiking and checking the national parks off her bucket list

Before the surgery, Dr. Himschoot asked Liz about her goals for the hip replacement surgery. She said she wanted to keep up with her grandchildren, and she has been doing just that. On a recent fall day, Liz was jumping in the leaves with her 5-year-old grandson. She is also back to attending Jazzercise classes every day.

“I can do pretty much anything I want. I have no restrictions,” Liz said.

She tells everyone she knows not to put off hip replacement surgery due to fears.

“It’s life-changing. You’re up and walking around that day,” she said.

She’s gotten back out into nature, which she loves — fly fishing in Alaska and hiking at a state park in Texas.

Now that she is active again, Liz plans to resume her quest to hike in every national park. She’s been to half of them, and she and her husband are looking at national parks in North and South Dakota for next summer.

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