Recovery After a Total Hip Replacement: One Belly Dancer's Story
There are three things about Anthea you should know: 1) She loves belly dance and horseback riding equally, but in a pinch she'd choose belly dancing, reluctantly. 2) She prides honesty, especially with her students, and isn't afraid to post videos of herself performing even though she was battling severe hip pain. 3) She truly believes there are many belly dancers dealing with recovery from or the possibility of needing a total hip replacement, and that it is her duty to share her story.
To know Anthea is to know her story, which begins in 1985. With a desire to dance on her mind, belly dance found her, through a book of all places. She was hooked instantly and has been dancing ever since.
"A book by Ozel Turkbas caught my eye in the Culpeper, Virginia library - thank goodness it was there!" said Anthea. "It was the cover photo of her that was so arresting. That image was so different than anything I'd ever seen, certainly different from my life at the time."
Compare & Contrast - In the videos below, on the left, Anthea dances in 1997, years before her hip problems really began, and on the right, Anthea dances in 2007, shortly before she stopped dancing due to her pain.
<-- Anthea dances in 1997
Anthea dances in 2007 -->
Balancing both her love of dance and her love for horseback riding, Anthea had noticed a decline in her hip joint for years, to such an extent that she had a noticeable limp. Since her range of movement was limited, she began to avoid using those muscles, leading to a weakening in the muscle of her right leg.
"After (horse) riding one day I was so tired that I could not lift it enough to dismount and slid off instead," said Anthea.
According to her blog, she then found herself in a great deal of pain so she scheduled x-rays at an emergency clinic. Nothing was broken, but the soreness continued. Seeking out her regular doctor for advice, he referred her to an orthopedic specialist when the diagnosis was given. She would need a total hip replacement. The sense of loss was immediate.
"I came to terms with [the sense of loss] quickly, since the thought of hospitals, doctors, and knives crowded it out of my mind! During recovery I said goodbye to my worn out hip joint and began to welcome the bionic replacement," Anthea said. "I've always loved robots in a sci-fi way so that made it easier."
Another thing helping her sense of loss was a stunning fact from her doctor: his sister had a total hip replacement and had resumed riding horse-back cross-country.
"That got my attention! I began to see that life could get back to normal and I could continue the activities I loved," said Anthea.
One idea that took longer to sink in was the ability to be whole again, performing like she had at the beginning of her dance journey.
"I had become so used to doing less and less all the time that the idea that it didn't have to be like that anymore caught me by surprise," Anthea said. "Listening to the doctor, I was cautiously optimistic but it was still hard to really picture."
It has now been almost a year and a half since her surgery, and while she has returned to dancing with as much vigor as she expected, her return to horseback riding has been a slightly slower journey.
"Dancing has been much easier because if you fall while dancing at least it's not very far! I still struggle with confidence issues when I ride. I've fallen off FIVE times in four years, and being a cautious person anyway, it honestly takes a huge amount of courage for me to get up in the saddle each time. On the other hand, dancing just keeps getting easier and easier at this point, so it's a win-win. Physically, I can dance just fine now; as far as riding goes, I still need more leg strength," said Anthea.
Watch Anthea dance... just a few weeks ago!
While most people remain amazed when Anthea tells them about her metal body part, she is hopeful that more dancers will come out and talk about their experiences with total hip replacements. She knows several non-dancers who have had total hip replacements, and her former belly dance teacher, Bedia, has just had a surgery of her own.
When asked how she would respond to someone who didn't believe a belly dancer could continue performing after a total hip replacement, she responded cheekily:
"They can look at my recent YouTube videos and see for themselves!"
For any dancers who are facing a total hip replacement of their own, these inspiring words from Anthea will reassure anyone with doubts.
"I'm happily surprised at the good results; and of course I wish I had not suffered so long before getting a THR," Anthea said. "I can do absolutely anything I could before my hip deteriorated; all that's missing is my stamina since I no longer work as a club dancer doing 20-minute sets all the time!"