Funeral chaplain walks without pain after hip surgery

We caught up with Jim Davis, 78, after he returned from a walk with his wife Brenda and Revere, their 75-pound Australian cattle dog.

“Good morning,” he said. “We just got back from a three-mile walk and we’re feeling good.”

Davis has been active most of his adult life.

After serving as a senior master sergeant with the Air Force in Vietnam, he enrolled at Lynchburg (Virginia) Baptist College, now known as Liberty University. Upon graduation, Davis returned to Albuquerque, New Mexico where he starting working part-time with the New Mexico National Guard as a multimedia photographer, walking everywhere and staying on the go to take photographs and videos. It was a position he held for 20 years until retiring.

But Davis didn’t stay retired for long.

“I went to work for a mortuary here in Albuquerque as a funeral associate,” he said. “I got my chaplain’s license and now perform funeral services. This work is very rewarding to me.”

But like many active adults, as time goes by, the padding between bones and joints begins to tear and wear down.

For Davis, the pain in his right leg started after he retired and got progressively worse.

“I would have a little pain once in a while,” said Davis, “but I never thought much about it. Then it kept getting a lot worse. We used to walk Revere just about every day for two miles, but my leg kept hurting. Later I couldn’t walk more than a mile without it hurting. When I would walk for just a quarter mile and needed to turn around, that’s when I scheduled an appointment with a new doctor. When I told her what was going on, she took some X-rays.”

The X-rays showed that the ring of cartilage (labrum) around the outside rim of the hip joint socket was worn down, producing bone-on-bone grinding in the hip. That’s when Davis learned that he needed surgery to replace the hip joint.

Hip replacement surgery

Concerned scheduling surgery would be months out – one surgeon he called was booked for the next eight months – Davis asked his friends for recommendations.

“One told me that Dr. Hanosh did her recent hip surgery and she recommended him,” said Davis.

Davis made an appointment with Dr. Hanosh, Lovelace Medical Group Orthopedics, who determined that Davis did need hip replacement surgery.

“By the time the surgery date rolled around, I was limping and my hip was hurting really bad.”

To replace Davis’s hip, Dr. Hanosh removed damaged sections of the hip joint: the femoral head (ball) at the top of the femur (thigh bone) and the Acetabulum (socket). He then replaced the damaged sections with new parts constructed of metal, ceramic and very hard plastic. The smoothness of these new parts help reduce pain and improve mobility.

“The next thing I remembered,” said Davis, “I was waking up in my hospital room and not feeling any pain. Dr. Hanosh came in later and said, ‘You’re strong enough and you don’t have any problems, so I don’t see why you can’t go home today.’ I went into surgery at 7 a.m. and was home by 4 p.m. I haven't had any pain since then.”

Physical therapy

When Davis returned home, he started using a walker to go between rooms, just to make sure he was steady on his feet. He also had visits from a home health nurse for physical therapy sessions over the next two weeks.

“A couple of days after my surgery,” said Davis, “I was in the living room where we usually had my physical therapy sessions. The therapist came in and saw that my walker was in the corner. ‘Why aren’t you using your walker?’ she asked. I answered that I didn’t need it anymore. I feel strong and solid on my feet.”

Two weeks later, Davis was in Dr. Hanosh’s office for a checkup. When they called his name, he stood up and walked to the exam room. The nurse also remarked about him walking without a walker or a cane. “I just don’t need it,” he said.

“I had a wonderful experience with Dr. Hanosh,” recalled Davis. “Before the surgery, he told me what was going to happen, such as the injection to numb the area and the details about the surgery. He told me that my hip would be sore afterward, but it was never as sore as I thought. I certainly didn’t have the pain I had before. Dr. Hanosh was very pleased that I had a good walk and was not limping.”

Future plans

With the pain gone and cleared for all activities, Davis and his wife are making travel plans.

“We've been looking at a couple of different riverboat trips, one here in the States and another in Europe,” said Davis.

Together, the couple is in good health and staying active.

“We’ve been eating well, taking our vitamins and doing our walking, so we are a little more physically fit. I just thank the Lord for helping to make it all work out well. Now that I can get to it, I need to put a new starter in our car, and then after that, Revere is going to need another walk.”

If you are experiencing pain in your knees, hips, or other areas, call Lovelace Medical Group Orthopedics at (505) 727-4430. You can also read more and schedule an appointment on the Orthopedic Services web page.