Back – And Bionic

Long Time, No Talk

Many of you will have noticed that aside from adding comments to Participant threads, I haven’t “been here” for some time. At least I hope you noticed. 🙂

Several months ago I had to set a date for hip surgery in late September. I spent those months getting ready for surgery, and the last month recovering from it. During that time I learned a lot about the current state of medicine, hospitalization and what is ‘normal’ recovery (bad) vs. what I did instead. I’d like to share this with you, because some of it is eye-opening. So grab a cup of whatever libation you enjoy, and meet me back here in five.

Back? Great.

First, this wasn’t my first hip op. That took place six years ago, to the month. Research convinced me that I didn’t want to settle for the standard “hip replacement” but that I should have the new (to the U.S.) “hip resurfacing.” For those of you who might need a new hip, or who might be putting it off, here is the one important difference between the two that NO surgeon will ever tell you about unless you ask: Wolf’s Law.

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Hips

A hip replacement is easy. They dislocate your hip, then amputate your femur head and (perfectly healthy) bone below. They then insert a long metal spike with a ball on top into what remains of your leg bone. A cup (ceramic or metal) is placed in your hip socket, the ball of the spike is put into it, and voila – new hip. This is the surgery that’s been done forever here, though materials and designs have changed over the years. The problem is, not only do you have restrictions on movements forever (there are even manuals about ‘allowed’ positions for sex), but the younger you are when you have the surgery, the more Wolf’s Law comes into play.

“German anatomist and surgeon Julius Wolff (1836–1902) postulated that: bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the loads under which it is placed. If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading. The converse is also true: if loading on a bone decreases, the bone will become weaker due to turnover, it is less metabolically costly to maintain and there is no stimulus for continued remodeling required to maintain bone mass.”

Unfortunately, in hip replacement “loading” only goes from our feet up to the lower tip of the spike. None of the bone above that tip ever gets reloaded. So over the next ten to fifteen years the bone surrounding the metal spike grows thinner from the inside out, and eventually pulls so far away that the spike loosens from the bone. When that happens you must undergo a ‘revision’ — a simplistic euphemism for breaking your remaining bone in pieces to get out the old spike, putting in a new one, and wiring everything back together. After five to ten years of that, a new revision is usually needed, which could mean spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. And the more active you are — the more you load the bone beneath the spike tip — the shorter the time to revision. Nice.

This is why, for decades, surgeons told young people with arthritis and bad hips to live on painkillers for up to half a century, and told older people to suck it up until they were in their sixties and wouldn’t have to worry about living long enough for revision number one, let alone number two. Which did not sit well with Derek McMinn, a British orthopedic surgeon who got tired of telling young patients to live in pain for years on end. In a successful attempt to end-run Wolf’s Law, Mr. McMinn developed the first successful metal-on-metal hip resurfacing (Birmingham Hip Replacement – 1997) and the instrumentation and surgical technique to implant it.

Hip Resurfacing is a very sophisticated surgery. The hip is dislocated, as with hip replacement, but any similarity ends there. The femur head and bone are completely preserved, arthritic tissue removed, and a large metal ball with a tiny two-inch stem is affixed to the head and attached to a metal cup in the hip socket. You regain a full range of motion in just a few months. All restrictions on movement are discarded about a month after surgery. If you were an Olympic Athlete before surgery, you can go back to being an Olympic Athlete a few months later – and many have. But most importantly of all, you’ve satisfied Wolf’s Law, since bone load continues from the foot all the way up to the hip. Short of doing something incredibly stupid like jumping off your garage, or being hit by a bus, a resurfaced hip can theoretically last a lifetime.

The FDA approved resurfacing in May, 2006, but since it takes at least 200 surgeries to know what you’re doing (and 500 should be the minimum when selecting a surgeon), there was no one here who could do it back then. So off I flew to Belgium, to be resurfaced by a surgeon who had more than a thousand of them under his belt. A new hip and all the Belgium chocolate I could eat. Win-Win! 🙂

How To Survive Surgery And Thrive

Fast forward six years. When my other hip started sending me twinges, I wasn’t willing to wait. Decades of being morbidly obese had taken their toll and even though I’d lost well over a hundred pounds, years of medical research taught me about the devastation inflammation wreaks on the body. And arthritis is inflammation on steroids.

But since I knew more now than I had six years ago, I was able to do better preparation of the kind that would stand me in good stead on the operating table, and in recovery.

First came pain management. Because if you’re in constant pain (and my hip was bone-on-bone), you can’t even think straight let alone follow a plan for months before surgery. So if you have pain, especially joint pain, keep reading. Just as my Protocol doesn’t treat the symptoms of obesity or diabetes but gets to their root causes and reverses them, so proper pain treatment should do more than mask symptoms. It should get to the root cause — inflammation — and stop it in its tracks.

So here’s the secret to getting rid of pain without NSAIDs or their toxic side effects on your kidneys or liver: A one-two anti-inflammatory punch of Boswellia Extract and Curcumin.

Get ready to spend a few hours on PubMed reading about these two incredible substances, but here’s a brief run-down. From Sloan Kettering: “Boswellia or Indian frankincense is an Ayurvedic herb derived from the resin of the plant. It is used traditionally to treat arthritis, ulcerative colitis, coughs, sores, snakebite, and asthma. The major component is boswellic acid, which was shown in animal studies to be a potent 5-lipoxygenase inhibitor with anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects. Other studies suggest that it has cytotoxic [anti-cancer] properties.

From one randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial on PubMed (there are several others, including a test of Boswellia/Curcumin combo against Celebrex, in which Celebrex came in second): “All patients receiving drug treatment reported decrease in knee pain, increased knee flexion and increased walking distance. The frequency of swelling in the knee-joint was decreased. Radiologically there was no change. The observed differences between drug treated and placebo being statistically significant, are clinically relevant.

Although my surgeon wanted to prescribe pain pills prior to surgery, I took three-to-four Boswellia and one Super Bio Curcumin every day instead. And despite being bone-on-bone, which is as painful a condition as it sounds, I was in no pain whatsoever. I could exercise, though I did so in the pool so as not to worsen the femur head condition before surgery. I could walk up stairs, go shopping and carry heavy loads when necessary. I had no pain, because these two supplements drastically lowered the inflammation. Protocol Participants with arthritis who now take this combo have had the same result. And best of all, there are no toxic liver and kidney side effects.

These two amazing substances have other properties, including anti-edema and anti-coagulation, both of which stood me in good stead after surgery. Adult aspirin twice a day for a month is what is now commonly prescribed after surgery to prevent swelling and blood clots. I tried it for a few days until getting sick to my stomach, and switched back to the combo instead. Zero edema. No blood clots or thrombosis.

The race to research the hell out of Boswellia and Curcumin is on. For breast cancer: “Similar to our previous observations in human bladder cancer cells, Boswellia sacra essential oil induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity. Suppression of cellular network formation and disruption of spheroid development of breast cancer cells by Boswellia sacra essential oil suggest that the essential oil may be effective for advanced breast cancer.”

From The American Cancer Society on brain cancer: “BACKGROUND: Patients irradiated for brain tumors often suffer from cerebral edema and are usually treated with dexamethasone, which has various side effects. To investigate the activity of Boswellia serrata (BS) in radiotherapy-related edema, we conducted a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, pilot trial.  RESULTS: Compared with baseline and if measured immediately after the end of radiotherapy and BS/placebo treatment, a reduction of cerebral edema of >75% was found in 60% of patients receiving BS and in 26% of patients receiving placebo (P ¼ .023). There were no severe adverse events in either group. CONCLUSIONS: BS significantly reduced cerebral edema measured by MRI in the study population.”

And finally, in using Curcumin for prostate cancer and Parkinson’s Disease: “Curcumin, an ingredient of the Indian spice Turmeric, has been shown to stop the formation of metastases in prostate cancer patients, researchers from Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität (LMU) in Munich, Germany, reported in the journal Carcinogenesis today. Several studies over the last few years have discovered a wide range of potential medicinal uses for Curcumin. In March 2012 researchers from Michigan State University found that curcumin may be beneficial for people with Parkinson’s disease.”

Important: For those who are obese and therefore have huge amounts of inflammation, whether or not they also have join pain, eliminating that inflammation is crucial. It is what causes ruptures in the arterial wall, and it is now believed to be the main cause of heart disease and attacks. There is an even more potent inflammatory on the market, an extract of Boswellia itself, called 5-Loxin. From a Monograph on why AKBA works better than regular Boswellia:

“Boswellia-related agents are one of the most thoroughly studied natural remedies for inflammatory diseases. Both in vitro and in vivo studies have established that the AKBA content in the extract greatly influences the modulation of therapeutic effect. Accordingly, 5-LOXIN has shown significantly better potential than the Boswellia extracts, that are less affluent with respect to AKBA content, in inhibiting 5-lipoxygenase, preventing TNF-α induced expression of MMPs and especially protecting against adjuvant-induced inflammatory response. As strategies to inhibit over expression of inflammatory mediators, cell adhesion molecules and proteolytic enzymes are considered important for intervention, 5-LOXIN offer therapeutic means for the prevention and treatment of many inflammatory diseases.”

Muscles and Meals

Even though hip resurfacing spares the femur head, the hip is dislocated and several muscles cut and re-sewn. That means major trauma to the body, which means rising levels of cortisol, depressed insulin, and higher blood sugars. Add the organ shutdown (however brief) as a by-product of anesthesia, and quick muscle repair with optimal overall recovery is dependent on good nutrition. So, a week before surgery I contacted the hospital’s head dietician and asked for meals high in saturated fat (butter, sour cream, yogurt), modest plain protein (like grilled steaks) and zero sugar or vegetable oils. Great hospital that they are, they said ‘no problem’ and they kept their word.

I also made what I call Recovery Fudge, which had every good thing in it that I could think of: coconut oil, butter, heavy cream, dark chocolate, cocoa and even my sugar-free granola sprinkled on top for crunch. I kept that and heavy cream for my coffee in the patient fridge on the floor, and ate some twice a day until it was gone – about two weeks after I came home. I also increased my overall calories with lots of extra fat, and upped my protein and carbohydrate levels by drinking heavy cream, organic protein concentrate shakes twice a day. I added wheat grass daily to help rebuild my red blood cell count. This plan not only worked, I’ve lost three more pounds an another inch from around my waist. 🙂

But just as important for my muscle repair was the intense water exercise I did for two months prior to surgery. Three times a week in the pool for an hour wearing my Water Walkers, highly effective exercise equipment I’ve used for years. Even if joint pain or arthritis or other problems make it difficult to exercise on land, you can still get a vigorous workout that will burn fat and build muscle. Water resistance is so powerful, if you harness it you can achieve the same aerobic improvement as on land. Better in some respects, because the cooler-than-your-body-temperature of water wicks away the heat from your entire body, lowering your pulse rate and allowing your muscles to work harder and longer.

The results in my case were what I hoped for. The hospital nurses and the PT workers who came to my home the first few days were surprised by my strong quads and hamstrings. Those muscles allowed me to go from two crutches to one the second week, a cane after that, and nothing at all the fourth week. At my post-op third week visit, my surgeon said he was astounded at my recovery process and said it was “way ahead of the bell curve.” I got permission to go back into the water, and to start Body By Science work-outs again. The former I did immediately, and the latter begins this week.

The Bionic Woman

And I’ll need it to build even more powerful muscles than I have now, because recent knee x-rays show one side is bone-on-bone. Thanks to my Boswellia/Curcumin regime I had no pain, but the damage wreaked by inflammatory fat was already done. Mako-plasty (the knee version of hip resurfacing) will fix it, but since it’s also major surgery I have to wait another six months or maybe a year to do it. Building strong calf, quad and core muscles will help take pressure off the joint and the rest of my skeleton as I move. Water walking and weight training will also increase my bone density, a very good thing as you age.

Of course another artificial joint will also add another hunk of interior metal to my growing collection. Not only do I set off alarms when traveling through airport security, it’s funny to watch the faces of doctor’s assistants when they weigh me and I say “please don’t forget to subtract the four pounds of titanium in my hips” — soon to become six. Given all that metal, I figure I’ll either become a T-1000 before I die, or valuable for scrap metal after. 😀

One Last Thing

Although this is already a long thread, I would be remiss not to share with you the nurses’ reactions to all things Protocol that got discussed. Yes, even on my hospital bed. They were all curious about my food choices (fat, fat and more fat), and the reasons behind it. Every time a new shift came on (three times a day; two nurses a time), they were in my room wanting to talk about Protocol. The reception really surprised me. To a man (they were all guys, go figure) they told me that their working with real people (as opposed to common medical wisdom) showed them that nutrition was the key to almost everything, and  certainly obesity and diabetes. But they are stymied at every turn by a medical system that is hip-deep in too much money to change. And that is especially true, they said, for doctors, who “think they know everything,” and who “refuse to listen to nurses,” and who “don’t want to hear or learn anything new.” Throw in the “arrogance and condescension” that comes their way and they feel helpless to make or offer any real change. That makes for a bleak outlook, no doubt, but it also says that real change is possible, because it’s happening all around the stubborn, but ever-shrinking medical core.

I may have spent the last few months water-walking and becoming bionic, but I’ve also done a ton of medical and scientific research, all of which I intend to share with you. Hopefully, a new post every week. Wait till you hear what I’ve discovered about how to effectively take thyroid meds if necessary, and about a single subset of the Vitamin B family that’s about to become the greatest fat and obesity fighter – ever.

I’d like to know what you think. Was this information helpful?

Till next time . . .


Update: I forgot to include a $10 off promo code from Vitacost for anyone thinking about trying the Boswellia, Curcumin and/or 5-Loxin, so here it is:

Click this link and then register on the site as a new Vitacost customer. You will instantly be sent a $10 coupon code via email that you can use for your first order. Don’t forget to click the ‘SUBMIT’ button at the bottom of the registration page. Once you get the Welcome Email, just copy and paste the code into the promo box at checkout.

ONLY FOR NEW VITACOST CUSTOMERS – or those with new/different email addresses!











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7 Responses to Back – And Bionic

  1. Pam says:

    WOW!! I sure wish I had known everything in your post thirteen years ago when I had both hips done. I had no choice, as dying was an acceptable alternative to the pain I was in back then.

    My knees are bad now, but I keep hoping a new and less invasive procedure will become available. Luckily I am more mobile and in less pain since starting on Protocol, though lately circumstances have made it necessary to put in more work hours and get less sleep. However, the sleep I get is so much more restorative and my energy level is higher than I can remember in my adult life. I am not nervous or jittery, simply able to do what I have to do to get through my day. The Protocol and the recommended supplements I take have reduced the pain of inflammation somewhat and I continue to feel better each week.

    Thanks for all of the wonderful advice and the research you do. I look forward to the new weekly posts. This information is way beyond helpful. It is life saving.


    • SugarFree says:

      Pam, I’m glad you found the information helpful. But you don’t need to wait any longer for a “new and less invasive knee procedure” to become available. It’s already here. Mako-Plasty is to knees what hip resurfacing is to hips. In fact, they can even do half a knee if that’s all that’s wrong, as it is with my knee. No more having to do a full knee “replacement,” which is more painful, and takes a longer recovery time. With Mako-Plasty you check into the hospital, get a simple spinal instead of general anesthesia, are up on your feet that night with a walker, leave the hospital the next day or the day after, and should be able to get around with a cane for the next week. After that no walking aid should be necessary. All your pain will be gone and it will be like having a new knee.

      However, as with hip resurfacing, if you let it go, if you put off getting it taken care of in a timely manner, your bone will continue to soften, deform and disintegrate. When that happens you will no longer be a candidate for this type of surgery and will have to get the old full knee replacement. As there is nothing ‘newer’ coming up at all, I urge you not to put it off but to get to a good orthopedic surgeon as quickly as you can.

      I’m glad the Boswellia and Curcumin are working to relieve the inflammation and pain, but you might want to switch from Boswellia to the newer, more effective 5-Loxin. I forgot to add the link to a $10 off coupon (I’ll go back and edit it in), but here it is for anyone who can use it:

      Click this link — and then register on the site as a new VitaCost customer. You will instantly be sent a $10 coupon code via email that you can use for your first order. Yes, that’s ten dollars, not just 10%. Don’t forget to click the ‘SUBMIT’ button at the bottom of the registration page. Once you get the Welcome Email, just copy and paste the code into the promo box at checkout. ONLY FOR NEW VITACOST CUSTOMERS!

  2. SugarFree,

    I am so grateful that you are not only paving the way for the rest of us through your experiences but that you are taking the time to fully research and investigate scientific truth in the midst of all the misguided assumptions and “diets” out there.

    After twenty years of being considerably overweight and at least ten years of being in constant pain due to many orthopedic issues, I am finally seeing things turn around with my body thanks to your Protocol. I have had minor surgeries with considerable rehab involved (done mostly on my feet). In addition, I have had three cortisone shots, been on heavy doses of prescription anti-inflammatories, and gone through extensive physical therapy for bursitis in both of my hips. Everyone that worked with me told me my joints would be so much better if I would just “lose weight,” because the heaviness of my body was causing the joint problems. No one ever mentioned inflammation.

    NONE of these things — not one of them — decreased the pain as well and as quickly as the combination of Boswellia and Curcumin you suggested I take. The results are next to miraculous for someone who couldn’t sleep because of throbbing pain or even walk down the stairs in the morning without gripping the railing while having to hold my breath. I’m excited to try the 5-Loxin which is already ordered. And the Buffered Vitamin C.

    Thank you for doing so much research legwork, for posting what you learn and experience, and especially for encouraging us all to get out there and do our own research rather than just listen to what traditional medicine spews forth as truth.


  3. Desert Girl says:

    > Your blog is very interesting. I’m happy the surgery went well for you. My husband has arthritic knees and hips, and
    > may opt for this surgery in the future. I’m glad you explained the difference between replacement and resurfacing.

    As anyone who’s had two hips done can tell you – it’s easy to put off having the first one because of fear of the unknown. After it’s done though, we tend to race to get the second hip done at the first twinge. What we now know is that we should have raced to have the first one done. That’s because not everyone is a candidate for hip resurfacing. The femur head needs to be savable, and every month of hip bone-on-bone not only grinds down the femur head, the arthritis makes it ‘soft.’ After a while, too soft to do anything with it but lop it off.

    And unfortunately, arthritis is a progressive disease. Boswellia and Curcumin can tamp down the inflammation and thus the pain, but it can do nothing to stop the progression. Nothing can but surgery. If your husband already knows he’s arthritic, I would urge him to see an orthopedic surgeon immediately and find out if he’s still a candidate for resurfacing – and if he is, to have it immediately. Those of us who have had it all have the same reaction within weeks of surgery: OMG – I have my life back again! It’s that dramatic a recovery, and far, FAR better than trying to ‘preserve’ our natural hip for as long as possible.

    > You took 3-4 capsules of Boswellia daily, what would the equivalent amount of 5-Loxin be?

    It depends on whether or not the Boswellia is already in your bloodstream, which takes a week or two. If so, you can take 2 5-Loxin per day (always in combo with Curcumin if you have arthritis) and drop two of the Boswellia a week later. Then the other 1 or 2 Boswellia a week after that and see how it goes.

    > I’ve been hearing about metal particles wearing off from the metal to metal contact in resurfacing that are
    > causing terrible complications in some patients. Are you concerned about that?

    Sigh. If only the media would bother to actually investigate medicine before writing about it! The metal particles were only a problem with a prosthesis called ASR – not the BHR. And only then if placement on the femur head was off by so much as a centimeter, which unfortunately did happen once the FDA approved resurfacing here in the States. As I mentioned in my thread about this, hip replacement is no more difficult than sawing off a bone, but hip resurfacing is a very sophisticated surgery whose failure rate only becomes extremely low after about 500 surgeries. But doctors jumped in right away once the FDA gave the go ahead, only did a few a year (you want a surgeon who is doing these five days a week, every week), and had failures of all kinds. This is why I went to Belgium to begin with. I was only able to have my new hip done here because a local surgeon already had over 800 surgeries under his belt. There have been NO metal particle problems with the BHR — not all prostheses are alike.

  4. Tim Lundeen says:

    You’ve had some fascinating experiences and results, am still going through the site. Thanks for posting all of this!

    Re hip replacements, you might be interested in Pete Egoscue’s work; he believes that when you use your body the way it is meant to be used, that you don’t have issues that require surgery. I’ve been working with one of his clinics, and it is a revelation. HIs protocol works well with Esther Gokhale’s techniques.

    In terms of healing joints, Jeff Bowles had some great results on a high-vitamin D protocol, see his book: MIRACULOUS RESULTS OF EXTREMELY HIGH DOSES OF VITAMIN D3. I also think that a low-inflammation Paleo diet will help this along.

  5. Ann Patterson says:

    Dear SugarFree, I am thoroughly reading through your posts. I have just gotten to this one. Do you have an opinion on the Egoscue Method? Like you, I have been diagnosed with bone on bone issues in both of my knees. Four years ago, two highly recommended orthopedic surgeons told me that the only hope for me was complete knee replacements in both knees.

    [Personal info snipped]

    The miracle of the information available because of the internet never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for all of the help and hopeful information that is posted on your site.

    Fondly, Ann

    • SugarFree says:

      Dear Ann, thank you for your kind words. Yes, I’m very familiar with the Egoscue Method. It is good exercise. It is not better than other exercises, like weight training, but as with all exercise done correctly, it will help to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. Combines with with the right anti-inflammatory supplements, exercise can decrease swelling, remove pain, and increase range of motion. A non-sugar, high fat diet can help even further in this regard.

      What it cannot do, sadly, is halt the progression of a highly progressive disease, nor can it restore lost cartilage. At this time, nothing can do that. Ultimately, surgery will be required. The real choice is when to have it. If done soon enough, the new partial ‘knee resurfacing’ can be done, which is a much less invasive surgery with faster recovery time, and a return to full range of motion. If you wait too long – lulled by the lack of pain and ability to easily walk up and downstairs, that’s not possible, and a full knee replacement will likely be necessary. In addition, although the anti-inflammatory supplements can reduce inflammation, the source of it remains untouched, putting you at much higher risk for many diseases, especially heart disease. And as the bone wears away, deformity and spine/back problems can and often do occur. This is why I’ll be having my knees done in the spring, at which point I’ll be more bionic than flesh. Now if only the operation would come with Super Powers. 😀

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