Thought I should provide an update on my situation in appreciate for all the good input that was provided to me. I appreciate it. Just as important, I'm thinking my feedback can help others who encounter issues with their hips too going forward who might reference this post.
I will start out clarifying the intent of my original post meaning what I was really looking for on the forum?...First off, I had done my homework on my orthopedic surgeon and was convinced he could do a great job if I decided to have surgery. I also investigated stem cell which sounded promising but still no guarantees. Therefore, what I wanted to better understand and validate what I'd been told to date by seeing what others who have been through this had experienced. More specifically:
1) Were there any success examples out there where folks had, had stem cell treatment for a deteriorated hip? Specifically, had anyone received treatment and were able to return to a normal quality of life including skiing?
2) For hip replacements, a similar thought... being is it realistic to return to a high level of skiing and quality of life after a hip replacement? Doctors I visited told me I could expect to...however, I still wanted to hear it from some real skiers!
My conclusions from the input I received here on the forum, 3 different doctors I visited, my old college roommate who is one of the top guys at Styker Orthopedics and reviewed my case / xrays with 2 of his top surgeons at John Hopkins Medical Facility, and other sources who have had hip replacements are as follows:
1) Stem Cell likely has a future but is not proven and results are still very much variable (some recover, some recover partially, many have no improvement).
2) Hip Replacements offer the opportunity to regain your full quality of life back assuming you are committed to preparing for the surgery and following through with the required rehab. The negative here is the expected life expectancy is about 20 years depending on wear and tear. However, the replacement could even last longer as current technology hasn't been out there long enough to fully evaluate.
I was seriously considering stem cell even with the significant out of pocket costs but given the potential it may not help me along with the fact that it would mean having to wait another 3 months before they would want to perform surgery (in the event stem cell didn't work) was a real deal breaker for me. My hip was getting worse every day and I've been on the bench since last July trying to battle this thing. It was time to move forward and get my life back.
Therefore, on Tuesday - February 23rd, I went ahead and had a hip replacement. While every case is different of course depending on your physical condition and your body's tolerance to pain (which is not a sign of how tough you are but more something we are born with as I understand), I will share my experience to date which is currently 11 days after surgery.
1) My surgery was in the afternoon and by the time they got me out of recovery and up to my room in the hospital, it was about 5:00pm. 8:00am the next morning, physical therapy (PT) showed up to get me going. I was able to immediately stand with no problem and walk around the floor of the hospital with no real pain (on pain killers at this time) with just some quad soreness. They also had me do some stairs. In the early afternoon, PT came again and we did the same thing but this time 2 laps around the hospital floor! After which they told me it was time to go home! Hard to believe I could have major surgery like this and be released within 24 hours!!!!
2) The next morning (Wed) after getting home that evening, I decided I didn't need the pain killers. They were throwing my stomach off and frankly I really didn't have pain...more just muscle soreness. From here on I started taking just extra strength tylenol. I was up and walking around the house several times a day with a walker.
3) On Friday - Feb 25th, I was feeling pretty good and decided I didn't need the walker and started using a cane. I also started walking outside short distances.
4) Currently, 11 days out from surgery...I am feeling pretty darn good! Taking walks with my cane outdoors for 20 minutes 2X per day and also doing my PT exercises of course! I can normally go up and door stair no problem and my normal walking gait has about returned. No pain, still some muscle soreness but less of it, swelling is now minor and limited to just the incision area!
As you can imagine, I am a very happy guy right now and I'm very optimistic about my future! My expectations for recovery based on discussions with my doctor and assuming no set backs are as follow:
1) Back to the gym for seated upper body exercises only this monday
2) Riding my horse again in 3 months.
3) Guiding fly fishing again in July
4) Guiding elk hunts again in Sept
5) Skiing again this November!!!! Here of course, I plan to very gradually work back to getting back to the level I am accustomed to skiing at!
Last but not least I want to share some things that helped me through all this to date for those who might be able to use this info:
1) Do seek out many opinions about your condition and expectations about recovery from all sources (several medical and folks who have been through it). This is a key part of mental preparation for what you need to do!
2) The advice given to me in this forum string about not waiting too long for surgery is so true! I was able to maintain real good leg strength in the gym prior to surgery which is paying dividends now and will continue to! That said, my condition was deteriorating quickly the final day prior to surgery and it is easy to see that if I waited much longer, my leg strength would be going down fast! My surgeon told me my hip had deteriorated from last Oct where I was bone on bone (but no bone deformation) to at surgery where the femur head starting to deteriorate significantly (I was now wearing into the bone!).
3) Strictly follow advice of your doctor and PT folks. There is a strong likelihood you will feel way better after surgery than expected but don't over do it!!!
4) I learned quickly that for hip replacements "being off your feet" means lying down and getting your heart level with your hip with icing 4X per day (especially after being up for a while walking and PT). This has been key for me in getting rid of swelling. Initially I was just sitting down and icing but had some moderate swelling. After talking with my doctors nurses, I better understood being off your feet means lying down and it has made a huge difference!!!!
In summary, I want to thank all of your for taking the time to offer your input. You did help me mentally prepare for what I needed to do. I also thank God for the positive outlook and new hip I have in the interest of getting back to what we all love so much! Not trying to show off here at all just being positive to show what my end game is by the end of next ski season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_qYaK6UXxE Thanks again for all your help and for those that might reference this for a hip problem, I am hopeful you find this post helpful!