As the Hip Stands

Posted Thu, 04/23/09

I was scheduled for hip surgery on May 11th, but it's probably not going to take place now.

To make a long story short, the orthopedic doctor I was seeing insisted I be smoke-free before surgery. Fine. I'm the first to admit I cannot quit on my own because I like it too much: I don't see smoking as a "nasty habit" and in fact quite enjoy it. However, I was willing to stop temporarily in order to have the surgery.

The first smoking cessation drug they gave me was Wellbutrin. It was akin to taking a sugar pill or placebo, and had no effect on me whatsoever. Next, the doctor prescribed Chantix. When I called into the pharmacy to get the charges, I was told my medical insurance did not cover Chantix and that I would have to come up with the $120 for the pills myself. Nix that idea, it's not going to happen.

The doctor's "nurse" told me to try over-the-counter solutions, such as Nicorette or Nicoderm. Both are great ideas, but I cannot wear a patch because I'm severely allergic to adhesive (as found in bandages, etc). And because of the state of my dental health, I cannot chew gum. When the nurse heard about my teeth, she told me the doctor would not perform surgery on my anyway unless my teeth were in good form because subsequent infection might occur. Since I don't have dental insurance, quick fixes to my enamel aren't going to happen, either.

The nurse went on to say that hip replacement is "elective surgery." I don't agree. The problem with my hip has led to other health issues because I cannot get decent exercise, and dealing with the constant pain has rendered me almost useless physically.

Last year, I had major abdominal surgery where topics such as smoking and flawless choppers were not even considered. My doctor then was a caring, humorous man who frequently called me at home to check up on me and who often did not charge me for office visits. In other words, he was a human being who cared about his patients rather than the insurance check coming in the mail. There are few and far between like him, I'm sorry to say.

It probably goes without saying that I do not have the greatest faith in my current orthopedic surgeon (re: Aaron A. Hofmann, MD). At this point, I simply do not trust him to cut into my body. He seems more concerned about having the perfect patient before surgery rather than having to practice actual medicine in order to help someone.

So the search begins anew.