The Three R’s of Hip Dysplasia -- Bonus Takeaways Section [Patient's Story]

October 11, 2017

Dr. Nicole Mullins, Exercise Science Professor who experience bilateral hip resurfacing
Nicole Mullins' life in action -- L to R: Traithalon Portland, ME; Kalalua Trail, Kauai; Tough Mountain Challenge, Women's 1st place;  Obstacle Course Race training; Buckeye Classic Gymnastics Competition

Click on the links below to read her story in full: 
Research (Part 1). Resurfacing (Part 2). Recovery (Part 3)

This is a bonus section of key takeaways, based on the three-part personal account detailing the inspiring story of Nicole Mullins, exercise professional, advocate, and enthusiast, who met her greatest challenge within her own body.

Written by by Nicole Mullins, PhD, ACSM EP-C, NSCA CSCS

The Key Takeaways From My Bilateral Hip Resurfacing Experience

Aside from some expected post-surgical pain and one very difficult day, I look back on my time at Providence for hip resurfacing, as well that in the weeks that followed, as overwhelmingly positive, filled with love, support, amazing caretakers, and restorative challenges. 

My story was lengthy, for two reasons.  First, my experiences were chock-full of moments that I want to remember.  Second, and more importantly, I hope that this detail can help others in some way.  Before surgery, I read many paragraph-length accounts of patients’ resurfacing experiences, but I found very few comprehensive reports of the ‘before, during, and after.’  I wanted more in-depth insights.  Since my hip resurfacings were my 6th and 7th orthopedic surgeries, I know well that surgery itself, while pivotal, is only a small portion of the entire healing process.  So… I offer my story for anyone who may follow in my non-slip socks.

If you prefer the Cliffs Notes, here are four important points:

Team Gross and Team Providence are outstanding. 

  • If you’re looking for experience, diligence, compassion, and kindness, you will certainly find it with them. 

Although the paragraph above refers to my “one very difficult day,” please do not misinterpret that to mean that every other day after a hip replacement is a breeze. 

  • I feel that those who say that it is – after a surgery in which a large tissue mass was incised and prostheses were impacted into bone – are evidencing a bit of fading affect bias.  This type of bias refers to the tendencies of negative emotions associated with memories to fade faster than positive emotions.  It’s kind of a nice tendency, as it helps us maintain a positive outlook and resilient spirit (If interested, see:  Walker et al., 2003; Walker & Skowronski, 2009).  However, painting the picture as too rosy, can make those who continue to feel pain for an extended period think that their experiences are not normal.  They are normal.  Again, full tissue remodeling takes a lot of time.  

I cannot overemphasize the degree to which upper body strength helped me in the immediate post-surgical period. 

  • While strength training is important for everyone, it is invaluable for anyone awaiting hip surgery, who lacks muscular fitness.  Strength greatly facilitates getting in and out of bed and chairs, using the restroom, and walking with any sort of assistive device. 

I am extremely happy that I opted for bilateral resurfacing. 

  • It was right for me, and is a great option for healthy, highly-motivated individuals.  However, moving in the immediate post-surgical period is undoubtedly more difficult after having both hips resurfaced, than after only one.  No one in chronic pain should put off a unilateral hip replacement.  Good health requires movement and resurfacing can restore the ability to move.  The immediate post-surgical pain is very manageable.

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Dr. Nicole Mullins professor of exercise science Dr. Nicole Mullins is a professor of exercise science, in the Department of Kinesiology & Sport Science (KSS), at Youngstown State University.  She earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in exercise physiology from Kent State University, and her B.S. in exercise science from the University of New Hampshire, where she competed in gymnastics.  She is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), as a Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C), and by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  She is a lifetime competitive athlete and physical activity enthusiast, with a mission of educating as many people as possible on the essentiality of regular physical activity and sound nutrition for making the most out of life.