Wayne Wilkie moves easily around his spacious open kitchen, walking without any hitch or limp.
An active and healthy 74-year-old who enjoys RV trips with his wife Jan, it’s impossible to tell that Wayne had one of his hips replaced less than six weeks ago.
“My right leg started acting up about two and a half years ago and my doctor wasn’t sure what the problem was,” Wayne says.
His family physician recommended that he see an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Lukasz Soswa, at Langley Memorial Hospital.
“He took my right leg and twisted it a bit and I jumped off the chair,” Wayne recalls. “He said I had advanced arthritis and because of how advanced it was, my options were reduced to either living with it or a hip replacement.”
Wayne took his time to think about it and talked to two of his brother-in-laws, both of whom had had hip replacement surgeries.
“They said it was the best thing they ever did, so that gave me the confidence to get it done,” he says.
He decided to go on the waiting list.
“I thought, OK, I’d better get some projects done,” Wayne says, and although he made some repairs and upgrades to their trailer, he had hoped to get the Christmas lights up. That didn’t happen as he received word his surgery would be first thing in the morning Nov 1.
He remembers the special care all the hospital staff and volunteers took while helping him pre- and post-surgery. He especially remembers the patient comfort items that made such a difference, like the special suits they give to surgery patients before and after the procedure, where warm air is pumped in to keep the patient cozy.
When it was time for the operation, Dr. Soswa came and drew a big X on his right hip, then the spinal - Wayne opted for a spinal tap rather than fully going under anaesthesia for the operation, so he was awake for the whole thing.
“I looked at the clock and it was five to eight when we started - there was a sheet up, so I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear a drill and then some hammering as they slipped the new socket into place. I looked at the clock and it was five after nine - we were done!”
After surgery he had to wait in the recovery room, back in the cozy temperature-controlled suit, where the nurse came by to check on him every 10-15 minutes, asking if he could wiggle his toes yet, as they waited for the freezing to wear off.
With the help of his walker, Wayne could already stand and put weight on his leg by that afternoon.
After a visit with physiotherapy specialists the next day, Wayne was ready to go home by 11 a.m.
“I was so happy to go home so soon! I had to fill a couple of prescriptions and remember my restrictions but there wasn’t a lot of pain,” Wayne says.
The swelling from surgery was the most painful for the first week, he recalls, and he had to get used to doing things differently, like getting out of bed, getting dressed and going up and down stairs.
Fortunately, about a week before surgery, he and Jan went to a pre-operation seminar, where there was a dietician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and other health professionals to help prepare him for the surgery and the restrictions and plan afterward (i.e. not bending past a certain point, not crossing your legs, not twisting your legs etc) as well as for the equipment he would need, like a walker, a “picker upper” device and a raised toilet seat.
“By the second week, it was easier to get around and by the third week, it was easier yet - I could almost walk without assistance,” he says, noting he did all the recommended exercises and was planning to go to his first rehabilitation appointment right around the six-week mark.
“I almost feel like I’m back to normal and it hasn’t even been six weeks - I am just so pleased with my recovery.”
Wayne says the whole experience was made so much better with the help of so many people at Langley Memorial Hospital, from the volunteer who showed him where to go to Dr. Soswa’s receptionist Sandy to the pre-op seminar health care professionals, the anesthetist, the nurses and support staff who helped him before and after surgery, the physiotherapists and of course, Dr. Soswa.
“I really just can’t say enough about all of these great people - I don’t want to leave anyone out,” Wayne says. “My motto is to criticize in confidence and praise in public and I just feel praise is really warranted. I felt so supported. And every day it gets easier - they say this is a major operation but it didn’t feel like it.”
The Christmas lights might not make it up this year, he says with regret, as his wife, Jan, reminds him to take it slow.
“I need to restrain myself,” he agrees with a chuckle.