“It was major surgery, but it sure never felt like it"
When Bonnie Ditello sadly shut down her long-time house cleaning business because the pain in her hip became too much to bear, the 70-year-old from Pittsfield never imagined she’d be up and walking on the day of her surgery…much less bicycling around the city by spring…taking frequent and long walks.…and enjoying the type of travel that has always kept her happy and young.
The decision to have the procedure was not a difficult one. “I was limping so badly, one leg looked shorter than the other. I almost started to use a cane, but I just couldn’t bring myself. It was getting harder and harder to do my work, bending down, walking up and down the stairs. At one point, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I needed help. I knew I couldn’t go on this way.”
After quitting her work, she did her research and talked to friends and anyone else who might offer suggestions. She eventually learned about a newer, increasingly popular alternative to traditional hip replacement surgery – the anterior approach.
“It just sounded great,” she said. “Half the length of time in surgery, half the size of the incision, half the hospital stay and a very short amount of time in physical therapy afterward.”
Fortunately for Bonnie, the procedure was available in her own back yard. BMC is the first and only hospital in Western Massachusetts to offer anterior hip replacements, performed by surgeons Kevin Mitts, MD, and James Harding, MD, of Berkshire Orthopaedic Associates. Her surgeon was Dr. Mitts, about whom she “heard such great things.”
Everything she had heard about the anterior hip procedure at BMC was true, including the private room throughout her stay, which she said made the procedure even more comfortable than it was.
“It was terrific,” she said. “I went in at 11 o’clock on a Wednesday. I had the procedure, and by 4 that afternoon I was up walking, with a little help from a walker. By the next day, Thursday, I was just using a cane. By Friday, I was walking out the door.”
What pleased her most of all, however, was the remarkable absence of post-surgical pain.
“It was major surgery, but it sure never felt like it. There was a little discomfort, but nothing I would call pain. I just can’t say anything bad about it. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
For three weeks following the procedure, physical therapists from the Berkshire Visiting Nurse Association came to her house a few times a week to help with basic exercising and stretching – routines she still does on her own before she does her outdoor bicycling and walking.
“I was driving five days after surgery,” she reports, a milestone that can take many weeks, even months, for those who have had conventional hip replacement surgery.