With the many advances in cancer treatment, today’s cancer patients have more and more reasons for hope. Portraits of Hope are the incredible stories of our patients and their journeys of hope and survival. Click on a thumbnail and scroll down to view each story.
Grandchildren are one of life’s greatest gifts. Spending precious moments with them often brings joy to a grandparent. Sylvia Hughes of Tabor City, North Carolina knows this all too well. When severe hip pain hindered her from enjoying activities with her granddaughters, she knew it was time to seek help.
Sylvia suffered from hip pain for several years. She tried to overcome the discomfort with over-the-counter medications and rest. Like most grandmothers, Sylvia loved to spend time with her granddaughters -- walking on the beach, attending ball games and going shopping.
“It became difficult for me to even rest at night,” said Sylvia. “I could not climb stairs or get in and out of a vehicle. I had always been an active person, but my hip pain was starting to control my life.”
Sylvia had previously seen an orthopedic physician in Wilmington, North Carolina, but she wanted to find a specialist closer to home. After talking with friends and family, Sylvia scheduled an appointment with Dr. Eric Heimberger of McLeod Orthopaedics Seacoast.
“I have many friends who are patients of Dr. Heimberger, and they all experienced excellent surgical outcomes,” said Sylvia. “Dr. Heimberger’s reputation precedes him.”
During her appointment, Dr. Heimberger conducted a comprehensive evaluation and ordered X-rays of Sylvia’s left hip. The results indicated osteoarthritis in the hip joint. The cartilage between the ball-shaped end of the thigh bone and hip socket had worn away. The ball and socket grinding against each other resulted in Sylvia’s extreme pain. Dr. Heimberger recommended a hip replacement procedure to Sylvia.
“I asked Dr. Heimberger many questions about the surgery,” said Sylvia. “He exuded confidence in his answers during our conversation. I knew having the hip replacement would alleviate my pain, so I told him to sign me up.”
Two weeks before surgery, Sylvia attended the McLeod Total Joint Replacement Program in preparation for her upcoming procedure. This one day class offers a complete guide from surgery to recovery for total joint replacement patients. Patients also have the opportunity to get their labs drawn and complete the pre-admission testing process for their scheduled surgery.
“The McLeod Total Joint Replacement Program prepared me for the procedure from start to finish,” said Sylvia. “I knew exactly what to expect and felt assured in my decision to have the hip replacement.”
On June 17, 2019, Sylvia underwent a posterior hip replacement at McLeod Health Seacoast. During the procedure, Dr. Heimberger made an incision in the back of the hip to move the muscles connected to the top of the thighbone to expose the hip joint.
“Using the posterior approach, I’m able to detach the muscles and tendons to gain access to the hip joint,” said Dr. Heimberger. “I then remove the ball portion of the joint and attach an artificial joint to the thighbone. After the removal of any damaged cartilage, I connect the replacement socket to the hip bone and insert the new ball of the thighbone into the socket.”
A few hours after surgery, the McLeod Health Seacoast Rehabilitation team had Sylvia up walking and using her new hip. The next day, Sylvia was discharged from the hospital and began physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding the hip joint.
“Laura, my physical therapy assistant, knew exactly what I needed during every visit,” said Sylvia. “We practiced stair climbing, bending and walking. She also massaged my muscles if I experienced pain or trouble moving.”
After six weeks of rehabilitation, Sylvia felt better than she had in years. Now pain free, her ability to move effortlessly has been restored.
“I spent the rest of the summer at the beach with my granddaughters. Walking in the sand or climbing stairs no longer hurt,” said Sylvia. “I can’t thank Dr. Heimberger and the McLeod Health Seacoast team enough for the outstanding care I received.”