Rick Rebellato grew up playing hockey in Ontario, Canada. He eventually moved to Savannah and traded his hockey stick for golf clubs. He knew that his athletic lifestyle would take a toll on his body, so he was not surprised to learn he needed hip replacement surgery. Unfortunately, there was a catch. The 58-year-old had a prior heart valve replacement and must take blood thinners every day. That makes any kind of surgery very risky.
“I suffered with hip pain for four years, but I kept delaying surgery because of the risks associated with the blood thinners,” said Rebellato.
In 2010, a friend told him to investigate “anterior approach” hip replacement surgery offered by Edward Whelan, IIII, M.D., at Memorial University Medical Center.
The anterior approach involves replacing the hip joint through a small incision on the front of the hip. The surgeon does not go through the layers of muscle in the back, so there is a lower risk of bleeding and a faster recovery time. Whelan was the first surgeon in Savannah to offer the anterior approach and is highly experienced.
Rebellato had hip replacement surgery on April 14, 2010. From the time he entered Memorial University Medical Center until his discharge, he was surrounded by caring professionals.
“My hospital stay was fabulous. From the first minute, I had very skilled people around me. I never felt alone. Everyone was concerned, caring, competent, and professional,” said Rebellato.
His surgery lasted an hour and he was doing leg raises in the hospital that evening. Two days later, he was discharged and worked with a physical therapist at home.
“Within a week, I felt better than I had in four years. Within six weeks, I was golfing. Today, I’m in great shape and my golf game is starting to feel like it did when I was in my 30s,” said Rebellato. “Best of all, I am no longer living with constant pain."
Rebellato encourages anybody who is on the fence about hip replacement to get it done. He says it changed his quality of life.
“Before surgery, I was still active but it was painful. It was hard to do simple things like keep up with the pack at Disney World. The discomfort of a sore hip makes you a grumpy person, and that affects the people around you,” said Rebellato.
He offers the following advice for anybody considering surgery: “Don’t delay with hip issues. Learn about it. Seek out the best surgeon for you and get it done. The risks are worth it.”