Joan H
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What a great site!!!  I wish I had found this before I went into surgery.  I would love to participate and be able to inform people of my experience as they gather information to make their decisions.
I am 42 years old and just had a THR on 1/14 after living with fairly severe, unrelenting pain day and night for the last 3 years.  A former ballet dancer, I suffered from osteoarthritis and had developed a large bone spur that had virtually pushed my left hip totally out of the socket.  Thank heavens, the right hip is in beautiful shape.
The procedure was done by a very fine and gifted surgeon (and a lovely person), Paul Pellicci, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. 
Two weeks to the day after the surgery, I was able to go up and down the stairs normally, without a cane (and not just one step at a time!) and walk three miles a day.  At three weeks (yesterday), I am almost off of pain meds and able to resume all of my normal activities.  And my stamina is at 90%.  The only limitation is that I cannot sit comfortably for extended periods (and, of course, bend the joint past 90 degrees).  But even that is improving measurably each week.  My incision, although impressive, is straight and fine... a testament to Dr. Pellicci's technique.  My girlfriend even told me that she thought it was sexy!  On second thought, maybe she was just being nice...
One of the keys to a speedy recovery is to walk a lot each day and then use the cold packs religiously (minimum 4 times/20 min each).  I am convinced that this speeds up healing of the tissue and also aids with pain management and reducing swelling/overall comfort.
The entire experience was extraordinary.  Dr. Pellicci, his staff, and the hospital/staff displayed high standards and an amazing professionalism, coupled with a truly concerned and caring attitude -- not only towards me and managing my (fairly high) level of anxiety, but to my family as well.  They were encouraging, positive -- even touchingly humorous --  and thankfully very concerned with pain management. I can honestly say that I suffered minimum pain, with the exception of a brief time in recovery.
The surgical suite is high-tech and way-cool (as my son told me after I described it).  Epidural anesthesia lowers overall infection rate (no intubation) and helps you bounce back a lot quicker than general anesthesia -- and you certainly feel great as they send that Valium into your IV!  Who cares what happens next...
If you need THR, my strong advice is to RUN (as you are able!) -- not walk -- to Dr. Pellicci.  I would not consider anyone else, particularly if you are younger and concerned (as I was) about your post-op appearance.  His hands are blessed, and he has earned my eternal trust and gratitude.
Joan H

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