‘Snow Problem’ – Elisabeth Smith Walks Within Hours of Hip Replacement Surgery at LVHN
Two winters ago, when Elisabeth Kienle Smith lived in Connecticut, it seemed as if it would never stop snowing. One night in particular, it snowed three feet. “I was afraid our patio would fall down under the weight of all that snow,” she says.
So Smith went out with a shovel and began tossing the snow over the deck’s railing. Afterward, her left hip ached, but she didn’t think much of it. After all, shoveling that much would make anyone’s hip hurt, she thought.
By April, when she was packing to move to Macungie, the pain became unbearable. “If it had not been for my two children, I don’t think I could have moved,” says Smith, 83. “I could hardly do anything because the pain was so terrible. The minute I stood up, it was awful.”
To find relief, she first turned to her family physician, Henry Liu, MD, with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). They agreed on physical therapy as a first step. Then, when the pain worsened despite therapy, Smith visited LVHN orthopedic surgeon Eric Lebby, MD, with VSAS Orthopaedics.
Smith’s diagnosis: “The cartilage that is supposed to cushion her left hipbone was worn away, causing her pain and eroding her hip joint,” Lebby says. “She needed hip replacement surgery.”
While surgery is a big step, Smith was ready. “I told Dr. Lebby to just do it,” she says. “I was in such pain I wanted to get it over with.”
Within hours of the hip replacement surgery, LVHN nurses helped Smith out of bed so she could stand and walk a short distance. “I was a little shaky, but that’s it,” she says. “It was just wonderful to not have pain.”
Smith returned home the following day. The prescription she received for pain medication wasn’t needed. “I never filled it,” she says. “After the operation, I had no pain whatsoever. I felt like a new person.”
She returned to driving and performing most of her normal activities within two weeks. Now, a year later, the only thing she doesn’t do: lift heavy objects, such as 3 feet of snow on top of a shovel.