Barbara's Story: Hip Replacement

Back to Gardening and Playing on the Floor with Grandchildren...

Although she had long suffered from arthritis in her back, there was something different about the pain Barbara Tabor felt on her Cancun vacation in March 2012. It made walking agonizing, so she began using a golf cart. Getting in and out of the water was an ordeal and even boarding the plane for her return flight was difficult.

When she arrived home, an astute physical therapist figured out that the pain was emanating from her hip, not her back and a diagnosis of avascular necrosis followed. The condition is caused when the blood supply to a bone, in Tabor’s case the femoral head (the highest part of the thigh bone), is interrupted, in some cases causing the entire area to disintegrate. The condition further aggravated the arthritis in her hip. Walking continued to be excruciating and for the next few months, she had to forsake her favorite warm weather activities, which include gardening, going to Red Sox games and seeing plays at the historic Theatre by the Sea.

She would need her left hip replaced. A friend recommended Joseph McCarthy, MD, director of the Kaplan Joint Center. Dr. McCarthy had replaced her friend’s hip with great results. After researching his credentials, Tabor decided he was well worth the commute from her home in Rhode Island.

Tabor, a 67-year-old retired pediatric nurse, knows her way around the healthcare system. When she told Dr. McCarthy about her heightened risk for pulmonary embolisms, she was impressed with his response. “He told me that I’d be seeing Judy Yang, MD, the Joint Center’s internist, to discuss this and other medical aspects of the surgery,” says Tabor. “He didn’t pooh-pooh my concerns. He respected my knowledge and I felt very confident in his abilities.”

Tabor also worried about infection, and she was pleased with the Joint Center’s infection protocol, which includes testing —and treating if necessary—every surgery patient for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a hard-to-treat bacterium responsible for many hospital infections. “The private room after surgery was also key for me,” says Tabor. “There’s no risk from sharing a bathroom with another patient.”

Her surgery went well, and hours later she was walking with the help of a walker. After a short stay in the hospital, she returned home and a few physical therapy sessions later was walking around her neighborhood. “I went from two crutches to one crutch to a cane in three weeks,” says Tabor.

It’s been a year since her surgery and she is pain-free and active again, tending her perennial gardens, walking, swimming, cooking and baking. “One of the best parts of having the surgery is that I’m able to sit on the floor with my granddaughter again and play Barbie,” says Tabor.

To make an appointment or find out more about the Kaplan Joint Center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, please call us at 855-KNEE-HIP (855-563-3447) or email us