This is a very tl; dr post. You’ve been warned.
When my first orthopedist saw my MRI results in November, he told me that he didn’t have the expertise to help me with such a specialized problem. At that point, all that was clear was that I had a deformation of both hips and a 3 cm multilocular ganglion cyst in the hip joint. I’d been having extreme, persistent pain for several months, after years of mild, intermittent pain when walking.
That orthopedist told me to go see Dr. Robert Ziets. At the time, I was annoyed that I had to start over with a new specialist. Now, I wish I’d known how fortunate I was for this referral.
Dr. Ziets took one look at my MRI and x-ray films and told me that not only did I have bilateral coxa vara, but I also had a torn labrum. I was scheduled for a hip arthroscopy at Beth Israel Medical Center, where Dr. Ziets is attending orthopedic surgeon.
I’d made it 33 years without having surgery. I found it hard to believe Dr. Ziets when he told me he’d have me walking out of the hospital on the same day he’d operate on me. As one of my other doctors puts it, “You have no idea how to be taken care of.” So the thought of a team of strangers taking care of me, while I was under general anesthesia, filled me with anxiety.
What a waste of energy. On the day of my operation, I was put very much at ease by the obvious expertise and caring of the professionals at Beth Israel. As the preparation for my surgery went on, I decided that it made sense to trust these people, and to let them look after me. From that point onward, I sort of basked in their care. I can’t count all of the nurses and nursing assistants – few of whom even told me their names – who came to my bedside just to see how I was feeling and to reassure me that I was going to be fine.
But what really relaxed me was knowing that Dr. Ziets was the one in control. He so obviously knows what he’s doing, and his confidence is infectious. When it was time for my surgery, he pushed my bed into the OR. “I can’t believe you have to do this yourself,” I told him. “I don’t,” he replied, “but I want to.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at the scene in the OR. It struck me as slightly absurd that there were so many people there – half a dozen – just for my deformed right hip. I laughed right up until I started receiving oxygen, and the only pain I felt was from the IV going into my hand. The next thing I knew, I was coming to mid-laugh. “Why am I laughing?” I asked the anesthesiologist. “I don’t know,” he said, “but you were laughing before you went under and you’ve been laughing since you came out. Now take deep, deep breaths for me. Keep doing it.” Then he was gone, and a nurse came to put me in a warmer because of my incessant shivering and extremely low blood pressure. “My blood pressure is always low. When can I leave?” I asked her. “If I let you out of this bed now, you’d hit the floor,” she replied. “Let us take care of you.”
As Dr. Ziets promised, I walked out of the hospital a few hours after my op. In fact, I walked home from the hospital that day – granted, it was only four blocks, and I had a loved one to accompany me. My limp disappeared within 24 hours. Nobody at work believed me at our holiday dinner when I said I’d had a hip operation three days previously.
All this to say: If you need an orthopedist, go to Dr. Ziets. If you need to have surgery, go to Beth Israel. (I also had all of my pre-surgical testing and x-rays done there, and always opt for one of their locations if I need any work done.) If you can also arrange to have a best friend who’s an RN and gives invaluable advice on having a pleasant surgical experience (protip: ask the anesthesiologist to give you something for nausea so you don’t wake up dry heaving), do that too. I’m so very grateful to everyone who took care of me, taking what I’d feared would be a difficult experience and turning it into an enjoyable revelation.