Just six weeks after undergoing surgery to replace a hip so deteriorated he could barely walk, much less operate a pay-loader, sand and gravel contractor Jake Donovan, 63, of Stockbridge, not only is fully back to work. There are moments he forgets which hip was done. “I actually have to stop and think which hip they replaced,” he said. “It was the left. There’s just no pain to remind me anymore. I don’t baby it. I do everything I’ve ever done. I run around just like nothing ever happened.”
As a US Marine Corp. veteran and a sand and gravel contractor in the Berkshires for more than 40 years, Jake certainly is no stranger to good hard work and the aches and pains that come with it. It was a couple of years ago that he first started noticing the pain, but like many people, he shrugged it off as a natural sign of getting older.
“At first, it just felt like I pulled a muscle in my thigh. I kept saying, ‘Aw, it will get better.’ But, of course, it didn’t. It just kept getting worse and worse. Eventually, I couldn’t straighten my leg out. Knowing what I know now, that was pretty stupid.”
He looks back and can’t believe some of the things he would do to compensate. “I couldn’t get into my truck without physically lifting my leg up by grabbing onto my pant leg with my left hand.”
There finally came a time when he knew could no longer ignore the pain and the dramatic limitations. A closer examination and x-rays revealed the tissues around his hip joint had deteriorated to bone-on-bone. All those years of heavy lifting, shoveling, pivoting and hopping aboard trucks and tractors had taken its toll.
It’s hard to get Jake to talk long about the procedure itself, his short stay at the hospital and his recovery period. Not because it’s a bad memory. "It was the best thing I’ve ever done," he said. It’s just that he prefers to jump ahead to talking about his remarkably quick return to his normal routine. “In two weeks, I was back at my plant and running those pay-loaders."
But he does take a moment to point out the significance of his experience with the BMC Joint Replacement Program.
“They give you your life back is what they do. They certainly gave mine back.”