Before undergoing left hip replacement surgery, Art Kirby made a promise to his care team. He told them he believed he would feel good enough to go home that day.
When they were skeptical, he upped the ante.
“I said, ‘Let me tell you something —I’ll be dancing on the day that I get this surgery,” says Art, 62, of Harrisburg.
Art lived up to his word and then some. After getting his surgery in July 2022, he proved he was well enough to go home by completing all the exercises his care team requested. And then, he took it up a notch by adding in some dance moves.
In the months since his surgery, Art’s repeated his dance moves several times to prove how well he’s feeling. He’s done it at work and at a follow-up appointment with his orthopaedic surgeon, Michael Werner, MD.
Art, who felt severe pain in his hip before his surgery, feels much better now. He is working again, performing strenuous labor with no ill effects.
“I was expecting it to do well and get better, and it did,” he says. “But I’m really ecstatic on how good. Because I just got used to the suffering for a long time, just progressively worse.
“Once I felt I was on the mend and everything was getting better, I was really happy.”
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Art lived an active life when he was young, participating in sports like boxing, martial arts, and wrestling.
As the years went on, Art stayed active through his job. He performs a lot of outdoor and indoor work for people — cutting trees, repairing decks, putting in stone sidewalks, painting, replacing windows, and much more.
The work was strenuous, putting a lot of wear and tear on his body — especially his hips. He began to feel pain in his left hip around 10 to 15 years ago.
“I just never gave it a second thought,” he says.
He didn’t see anyone — and the pain continued to get worse over the ensuing years until it began to affect his work and life. Eventually, he could only work about two hours at a time because of the pain.
“As the pain developed, that just inhibited me,” he says. “I could do less and less as the time went on. I became less productive. Sometimes, I could barely raise my leg because there was just sharp pain, ungodly pain.”
One day, Art was standing in front of his mirror when he noticed a sizable, egg-shaped lump on his left hip.
“I said, ‘Man, that ain’t right. That’s where the pain’s coming from,'” he recalls.
Despite that, Art continued to put off care. He was worried about how surgery would affect him long-term, especially with his work.
Eventually, he began feeling pain in his right hip, too. He realized he needed to do something.
“At that point, I said, ‘No,'” he says. “‘When I can’t even walk with two bad hips like this, I’m in trouble.'”
Getting the Care He Needed
Art visited his nearby UPMC Urgent Care location in May 2022. He had x-rays taken of both hips, and the scans revealed he had arthritis in both. His left hip was especially severe: It looked like bone was rubbing against bone.
From UPMC Urgent Care, Art received a referral to Dr. Werner at UPMC Orthopaedic Care.
Dr. Werner told Art he would need a total left hip replacement and scheduled him for a July operation.
“Once I saw Dr. Werner, the rest was just blissful happiness and harmonious results that occurred,” Art says.
A Successful Surgery and Recovery
Art’s surgery went well, and he felt well enough to go home that day — determined not to spend the night in the hospital.
Over the next couple of months, Art took his recovery step by step, knowing he shouldn’t push himself too hard.
“It was really rough for the first two weeks,” he says. “But within a month, I could feel it improving. It was not strong, but I was making progress.
“It took some time. I’m not the kind of guy who’s ever been really laid up or sitting on the couch for a long time, so it was a little bit rough. But gradually, it got better.”
By October, Art felt well enough to begin working again. He says he wasn’t going “full tilt,” but his hip was much better than it was pre-surgery.
“I wasn’t experiencing any pain once my hip healed,” he says. “I thought I was Superman. I was doing all kind of crazy things.”
Feeling Strong for the Future
By May 2023, a year after his surgery, Art was back in full swing at work again.
“I’m doing jobs like putting concrete in on my hands and knees, hard jobs, digging in the dirt, putting flower beds in on steep hillsides,” he says. “If I didn’t have this hip replacement, I wouldn’t even think about doing this sort of work.”
Dr. Werner told Art he may need surgery on his right hip at some point, too. But as far as his left hip is concerned, he feels strong.
“I’m 62 years old, they slapped in a new hip, and I’m good for another 100,000,” he says. “I have no complaints.”
Art credits his entire chain of care for providing him the results he was hoping for. It began with UPMC Urgent Care and continued with Dr. Werner.
“I’m ecstatic, I’m happy, and everybody treated me well in the process,” he says.
At one of his most recent follow-ups with Dr. Werner, Art put on another dancing demonstration — with the surgeon filming.
“Great, great, and great,” Art says, describing his overall care. “Excellent, superb, and beyond my expectations. Truly amazing, phenomenal, awesome. The list goes on. Those people just took care of me; that’s all I can say.”
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