Barbara: Feeling Good Enough to Dance

Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy - Baltimore

Degenerative Hip Problems

Barbara A.'s hip replacement surgery was a walk back to a pain-free life; a self-described miraculous journey that took her through the halls and rooms of Mercy Medical Center with Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Marc Hungerford as her guide.

But the truly remarkable part of her trip was what inspired her to begin it in the first place -a few joyous dance steps.

Barbara had always been somewhat of an athlete, enjoying sports like tennis and running.  But over the years those same activities, combined with arthritis and degenerative hip issues, had weakened her left hip to the point where she was in perpetual pain. In time she was forced to walk with her body tilted in order to avoid putting pressure on her hip.

“It was upsetting for people to even watch me,” Barbara said. “I could still get around and do things, but I was taking a lot of pain medications to get there.”

The Dance

When Barbara was in her early 60s she sought relief and began working with a physical therapist. But the hip didn’t get better. It was getting worse.  She couldn’t sleep at night. Her running and tennis days were done.

And then she saw the dance.

Barbara frequented a grocery near her home in the City of Baltimore. Over the years she’d become acquainted with the store’s manager, who at one point, Barbara said, had been noticeably absent for a few weeks.  In the Fall Barbara went shopping and ran into the manager. When she asked her where she’d been, the woman explained that she’d been out for surgery – hip replacement at Mercy Medical Center performed by Dr. Marc Hungerford.

“She was so thrilled about the results of the surgery that she started dancing right there in the store to show me how great she felt,” Barbara said. “She only did a couple of steps, like a hula, but that was enough to make me want what she had.”

In fact Barbara immediately went to her car and called Dr. Hungerford’s office from the parking lot.  She wanted to dance too.

Eventually Dr. Hungerford performed surgery to replace Barbara’s old hip with a new titanium one.  The surgery was done with a minimally invasive technique, an anterior approach hip replacement, that left Barbara with only a small 4-inch scar.

She was also left with an impression that was enough to make her dance.

“This was major surgery and yet it all seemed so simple, that was the most impressive part,” she said. “I was out of the hospital in two and one-half days and almost immediately there was nearly no pain. I couldn’t believe it.”

The Miracle Man

She calls Dr. Hungerford her “miracle man” for his ability to allow her to resume her life pain-free. “The technique he uses is just incredible,” she said. “When you’ve lived with pain for so long and it’s dominated your life, and then all of a sudden it’s not there, what else can you call it but a miracle?”

Barbara was also impressed with Dr. Hungerford’s overall approach, which included compiling and giving her a notebook that covered all possible questions about the surgery, and even a pre-surgery meeting with other patients having the same procedure done. “He’s a master at what he does and he obviously enjoys his work,” she said. “Plus his staff was great, very generous and responsive. They told it like it was and didn’t sugarcoat things. I appreciated that.”

Just two weeks after the surgery, Barbara was driving her car and back at her job as director of a non-profit organization in Maryland. And not long after she was back exercising regularly, walking, and most impressively, dancing.

“The only thing I can’t really do anymore is run, but that’s okay,” she said. “I’m doing a lot of other things, including high energy aerobic dancing three times a week. That’s pretty good for someone I once thought would be known as ‘that lady with the two canes.’”

“I feel as good as I felt 20 years ago,” she concluded. “I feel good enough to dance.”

Barbara's Treatment Team