IU Health Bedford Hospital

Eye on the Prize: Hip Replacement Helps 54-Year Old Return to Active Lifestyle

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July 06, 2018

A typical day at the Brown County furniture store where Mary Shieldsmith works involves many hours of standing, walking and loading. But that wasn’t unlike past jobs, where she worked long hours on a foot route or spent the day on her feet at the counter for the post office.

“I’m not a sit-down type of person,” says Mary, who with her husband, Tom, a Cook Pharmica employee in Bloomington, likes to hike, dance and cycle through Brown County State Park, among other hobbies. “We’re very active for our age.”

Mary had been enduring her hip pain for almost a year when she started researching providers. That was 10 years ago. She was at the ripe young age of 54.

She found what she was looking for in Jonathan Surdam, MD, a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians in Bloomington. “I looked him up and researched and, when I started to see him, I liked him right away and felt comfortable with him,” she said.

Mary soon learned what it is about Dr. Surdam that puts everyone at ease, besides the fact that he has performed thousands of total joint replacement surgeries.

“Surgery is always the last move,” Dr. Surdam said. “Non-operative modalities that can help include physical therapy, weight loss and cortisone injections, to name a few. It is only when those treatments fail that we consider joint replacement surgery.”

At Dr. Surdam’s suggestion, Mary tried other remedies, such as physical therapy, injections and even massage therapy and, on her own, sought the help of a chiropractor. Nothing helped for a prolonged period of time.

“It’s not like it ached all the time,” Mary said. “But the pain got progressively worse fairly quickly. I would be walking along, and all of a sudden my hip would lock up and the pain was extreme. The last thing in the world I wanted was hip surgery.”

Then, after the last round of shots, when no relief was in sight, Dr. Surdam suggested surgery, and Mary finally said yes. “I just decided that I was in too much pain to go on living like that,” said Mary, whose youngest was in high school and her oldest just out of college. She was still raising a family and working full time, so she couldn’t afford to be down for long.

“A degenerative hip or knee can keep you from doing the things in life you live for,” Dr. Surdam explained. “Going through a hip replacement let Mary get back to her active lifestyle. She is cycling 10 miles several days a week, hiking regularly and enjoys swing dancing. She had to put all of those activities on hold because of her chronic hip pain.”

Mary’s surgery went well. She was cared for at IU Health Bloomington Hospital in a private room by specially-trained nurses who solely work with total joint replacement patients.

“I never felt anything,” she said. “My incision never hurt, everything just worked. I couldn’t have imagined a better outcome, ever.”

For a couple weeks after surgery, Mary had a therapist come to her house (she lives out in the county and didn’t have anyone to take her anywhere). Later, she traveled into Nashville for therapy visits and returned to work in about eight weeks.

“I’ve always been a physically strong person, and I worked my tail off in therapy,” Mary said. “In fact, I got crutches just in time to go to my son’s graduation.”

“A patient’s dedication to his or her recovery is a huge part of a successful joint replacement surgery,” Dr. Surdam explained. “Mary went through her recovery phase with an eye on the prize. She was always a resilient patient that stuck to her therapy regimen.”

Since her hip pain began and since her surgery, Mary has only had to give up one thing she thoroughly enjoyed in life: her collection of pogo sticks.

“My husband said I couldn’t pogo stick anymore, so I finally donated them to a Habitat auction. That’s the only thing I’ve given up, though. I crawl all over the floor, sit on the floor, take dance lessons, you name it. We’re active and there’s nothing I don’t do."

Featured IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians provider seeing patients for orthopedic issues and total joint replacement:

Jonathan Surdam, MD
812.333.BONE (2663)

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