It's only when you see the X-Ray...


There's something definitive about the X-Ray. Up to that point, there's a shaft of hope. Maybe it's not that bad really - just a tight hip capsule, a strained groin, or dodgy nerves. You've had the diagnosis, you've acted as if you've got it, but you don't really know - until you see the X-Ray.

And there it is. A ball looking like it's trying to bury itself in the socket - not a shred of cartilage to be seen, whilst on the left side, the hip seems to be smirking at its' neighbour, with a nice comfy cushion of cartilage forming an ample buffer zone between ball and socket.

Hope evaporates. There's now no doubt at all. There it is, literally in black and white in front of your eyes. Your hip is in every sense screwed. There's a ball trying to screw itself as deeply into the socket as it can get, and starting to wear itself away.

"Hmm - no wonder it's causing pain" says the radiologist matter-of-factly. Meanwhile on the other extreme my boss thinks I'm putting it on. I have a dark fantasy of shoving my X-ray pic down her skeptical throat. Still not quite out of the rage stage then.

What is somewhat galling is everyone you meet seems to have happily had their new hips already. Even more galling - those who got one quick because they had BUPA. And here I am at the end of the longest queue in NHS history. I am prone to dark emotions, but now I feel a new one - one that I've never really had before - jealousy. Don't expect me to be happy for you with your nice new shiny hip. I am WAY too jealous.

Of course sooner or later you have to snap out of your wander over to the Dark Side. To my untrained eye, the ball, as firmly wedged as it is, seems relatively intact. An objective takes shape. My estimate: three years before I get a new hip. I need to make that ball last as long as I can - Physio, taking on the boss for arthritis-friendly working conditions, nagging doctors, delegating the lawnmowing to Missus (heaven help us)

Hope, I've decided, is overrated. Hope keeps you going down paths you should really abandon. When presented with a pic that shows you that your hip is doomed, you can focus on keeping it going for as long as possible before it becomes an eroded shaft of agony, and in the meantime push where you need to push for the only solution, a new hip. Journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step...


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,719

    “It’s not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand. ~ John Cleese (as Brian Stimpson in the film Clockwise) I see you're in agreement.😀

    I confess I've never been able to read an x-ray even when the doc was helpfully pointing out differences between Mr SW's two bone on bone hips, even when my orthopaedic surgeon was pointing out how my old THR was now encroaching into my pelvis making any further op a non-starter. It looked fine to me which is probably one of the many reasons why I'm not an orthopaedic surgeon. The only x-ray which actually meant something to me was when I first saw my new knee revision - a mid-thigh to mid-calf job of stunningly beautiful shining metal. And all mine!

    As you say, physio, delegating and working with your boss and docs are the way to go. I've never nagged a doc in my life. Like most people I find they respond better to honest question and answer conversations. They are not responsible for the long delays but, until you are deemed in need of a new hip, you won't know the waiting time. It could be worse or better by then. Solutions are being looked into. Mr SW offered to get his Black and Decker workbench out for one of mine😉 The kids both offered to assist.

    I think the first intimations of mortality are the hardest. My elder son, aged 50 and as fit as a butcher's dog all his life, has just been given those words we all eventually hear and never forget "The changes are no more than I'd expect for someone your age." As the concern was possible glaucoma he should be delighted but, actually, he's just annoyed/relieved because, as we all know, he's not that age😁

    If at first you don't succeed, then skydiving definitely isn't for you.
    Steven Wright
  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,742

    Seeing that X-ray is like a slap round the face with a wet fish. Particularly when the surgeon can’t see the patient beyond the image. But their job is to fix us, and all we can do is put our trust in them.

    Those who have the shiny new hips, knees or any other replacement parts are the ones who started their journey a long time ago. They too will have withered under the prospect of a terrifyingly long wait, learning to live with, and manage, constant debilitating pain and exhaustion, fought back frustration and depression, and battled with the lack of support and understanding from those who should know better, or didn’t care to learn. It’s a long road, there is no map that suits all. And only a fortunate minority are blessed with health insurance.

    if your boss needs convincing, perhaps send them a link to a YouTube clip of hip replacement surgery, and point out that no one volunteers for this without it being an improvement on the pain they’re suffering now. Just whatever you do, and I can’t stress this too much, don’t watch it yourself.

  • Licklelilly
    Licklelilly Member Posts: 29

    I didn't have medical insurance, I paid for my new hip out of my savings my deceased mother left me, I really wanted to use the money for a deposit on a house, alas my body had other ideas. Had my first x-ray 3 years ago and opted to wait and see before going on the waiting list. Had the second x-ray a year and a half ago, after it became obvious that the pain was a daily thing. Lockdown happened, and it took 9 months before I could see a consultant, only to be told it was so bad that exercises were only going to make it worse and I was faced with a possible 2-year wait for a hip. I had a choice, house or hip! I went for the hip and have not regretted it in the slightest. Have you looked into paying for your surgery in instalments?

  • RogerBill
    RogerBill Member Posts: 223

    I requested copies of my x-ray and the report on it. My diagnosis was of “severe degenerative change in the left hip with complete loss of the superolateral joint space”. My right hip only has mild OA so I could compare the x-ray of a reasonably good hip with the problematic one. I had to look up superolateral to find it means above and to one side. This plus looking at the image which shows bone on bone in that area of the ball and socket hip joint I think explains why my hip is generally only painful when walking or standing.

    I'm having a Mako robot assisted THR late September. Reading posts by those who've recently had a THR is incredibly useful preparation, thank you Lilymary et al. for telling it as it is warts and all!