Courtney May was an avid skier. When she was 36, arthritis invaded her hips. Within a few years, the pain was so bad she couldn’t even walk a block, and was forced to hang up her skis.
By the time she was 44, May needed a hip replacement. She was referred to orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Paul Beaulé.
“Before my first hip surgery in January 2014, Dr. Beaulé asked if I would be willing to be part of a randomized control trial to see how the body would react to a ceramic hip versus a traditional metal hip. I agreed to participate without hesitation,” said May. “I knew that research was important. Previous clinical trials had resulted in treatment that helped me. My participation would help others.”
The results were amazing, and May was able to resume day-to-day activities with greater mobility, and much less pain.
She had a second hip replacement a year later. This time, Dr. Beaulé asked her to participate in a same day discharge study to see how well people recover going home the day of the surgery, versus staying in the hospital a couple of days.
May’s decision to participate in this trial met with all kinds of opposition from family and friends who said, ‘This is crazy. ‘The hospital is rushing you out.’ ‘This is a complete failure of the medical system.’
“I would argue this is a great success for the medical system,” said May. “The actual surgical procedures were identical. I got a ceramic hip both times. I was sent home with an iPad that had a program installed so that a post-op nurse could monitor my vitals remotely. Dr. Beaulé, Dr. Pennington, the anaesthesiologist, and the post-op nurse all checked in to be sure things were going smoothly.
With the first surgery, May’s recovery was aided by walkers, crutches and canes, and a personal care worker helped her bathe and dress. With the second surgery, she was admitted at 8:30 a.m. and left the hospital at 4:30 p.m. She was independent within days, and went straight to using a cane. Recovering at home was completely positive.
This study is a randomized trial looking at how bone adapts to two different total hip implant designs and May was followed for two years after with regular blood and bone density tests.
In the spring of 2016, May travelled to Jakarta. She marvelled at how she managed the 24-hour flight, remembering how she used to dread sitting in a car for any length of time.