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If it weren’t for two recent hip replacements at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH), there’s a good chance Lucile Palmer, 70, wouldn’t have danced with her son at his wedding in early October.

“It was a wonderful wedding celebration, and everybody had such a good time,” Lucile says. “We had a full band, and they played the best dancing music ever, and we had wonderful food. It was so much fun.”

Lucile Palmer

Less than a year ago, dancing would have been nearly impossible for Lucile.

In September 2021, Lucile was enjoying a walk near her northeast Tallahassee home when she slipped in a mud puddle and badly injured her hip. In the weeks and months that followed, Lucile tried to endure the pain and fight through her injury. It didn’t take long for Lucile’s quality of life to begin suffering.

"I couldn’t take my long walks, I couldn’t run with my Labrador Retriever, and I couldn’t go to the gym,” she says. “I didn’t want to socialize with my friends because I was in so much pain all the time. I would just sit down and cry because I just hurt. My life was not at all the way it had been before, and I felt like I had lost the life I knew.”

She repeatedly told herself it would get better, and she tried physical therapy. It wasn’t until she couldn’t get out of bed one morning that she decided to finally see a physician about her hip.

Lucile’s primary care provider referred her to Jordan Walters, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Tallahassee Orthopedic Clinic.

“When it comes to joint pain – whether it’s from injury or wear and tear from aging – a lot of people try to ‘tough it out’ longer than they should,” says Dr. Walters. “If your joint pain lasts for more than a few days or is impeding your quality of life, you should speak to your primary care provider right away. Delaying your care often only worsens your pain and lengthens the amount of time you’re in pain.”

At Lucile’s first appointment, Dr. Walters and his team told her that her injury was so bad, they couldn’t believe she had been able to walk at all. Lucile needed hip replacement surgery due to severe arthritis. She asked for the first available appointment.

Lucile’s surgery was scheduled with Dr. Walters, and she received her first hip replacement in the spring of 2022.

During hip replacement surgery, more formally known as hip arthroplasty, surgeons remove the diseased and damaged areas of the hip and replace them with artificial parts made mostly of metal and plastic to create a new hip joint.

Lucile Palmer

While every patient experience can vary, Dr. Walters says the surgery is typically not as scary as it sounds.

“I think years ago, when some of the technology was still being worked out, and plastic wasn’t quite as strong and durable, there was this idea that you should wait until you almost couldn’t walk anymore to have hip replacement surgery,” Dr. Walters explains. “But today, with more recent advances in technology, people have realized you don’t need to suffer forever. We hear from many of our patients that they wish they’d had their surgery sooner.”

Lucile says she was instantly a fan of Dr. Walters, largely because of his thorough and down-to-earth explanations.

“He looks you in the eye,” she says, “talks to you and has a pleasant, calm demeanor. I really like him, not just for his medical expertise, but his bedside manner.”

She was also blown away by the accessibility of TMH’s state-of-the-art M.T. Mustian Center when she received her first surgery.

“Being able to park so close to the entrance for people who are in chronic pain is such a blessing,” Lucile says. “It was also so aesthetically and visually pleasing and pleasant. That alone made us feel really good about the decision to have my surgery at TMH.”

The friendly faces she encountered while at the Mustian Center also made a big impression.

“Everyone was so kind, polite and helpful,” she continues. “The person at the front desk was so nice. Even just passing someone in the hallway, they would say hello and ask how you were doing.”

Lucile said she knew she was ready to have her other hip replaced as soon as she could following her first surgery.

“People usually have a matching pair,” Dr. Walters says. “If one hip sees a lot of wear and tear, the other side does too. With her successful recovery from the first surgery, Lucile was very excited to go through the process a second time. She was very quick to become active again and we almost had to hold her back some because she was doing so well.”

Dr. Walters told Lucile she would need to wait a few months, but in late August of 2022, she received her second hip replacement. Within weeks, Lucile was walking up to a mile, working in her garden, walking her dog and finally feeling like herself again.

“I’m so grateful,” Lucile says. “I feel like I’m getting back to my old self and just enjoy waking up, taking on the day and appreciating the simple things in life. I’m looking forward to things. I’m socializing now. My mood is back to my normal baseline and my quality of life is so much better.”

Lucile had her second surgery just in time to enjoy her son’s wedding. So, she did what anyone with newfound mobility would do and danced the night away.

“I danced a lot, maybe too much,” she says with a laugh. “It was so much fun, I was just so happy to dance.”

If your joint pain lasts for more than a few days or is impeding your quality of life, speak to your primary care provider right away. Delaying care could worsen your pain and lead to further complications, and, as Lucile’s story shows, treatment can completely change your life.

For more information about orthopedic services at TMH, please visit TMH.ORG/Ortho.

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