Penny Altman’s Story: Local Outpatient Hip Surgery Keeps Woman Touring National Parks

A woman on the go, Penny Altman wasn’t about to let a bad hip leave her on the side of the road.

Altman, a former Cincinnati resident who now lives and travels in a 35-foot recreational vehicle with husband, Bob, knew last year it was past time to address pain in her left hip.

“It was an issue that I had been having problems with,” she said of the hip. “Being on the road, it is harder to find someone (to provide care). We are more familiar with Cincinnati and Dayton because we used to live in the area, and have a support network, if needed.”

When she decided it was time to act, Altman turned to her doctor in Texas asking for an MRI.

Armed with the results, she was able to schedule an appointment with Louis Okafor, MD, with Premier Orthopedics. Penny’s son-in-law, who lives in the Dayton area, recommended Dr. Okafor to Penny.

She met with Dr. Okafor just before embarking on a previously scheduled two-week cruise. The surgery at Miami Valley Hospital South was scheduled for shortly after her return.

“It was bone on bone,” Altman said of her hip. “Dr. Okafor knew this and was able to give me medication that I took to help with the pain,” she said.

The outpatient surgery was under way less than 36 hours after her return from the cruise.

“I was there eight hours tops,” Altman said of her surgery at the hospital.

For the following three weeks, she slept in a recliner to comply with the doctor’s orders to sleep on her back. An electric fireplace in the family room and the recliner helped her in recovery. “It was all good,” she said.

Altman’s total hip replacement utilized the direct anterior muscle sparing approach, Dr. Okafor said.

Anterior hip surgery is performed across the United States and in other countries. Although the approach has been around for many years, it has increased in popularity over the last few decades, he said.

“This surgery can be safely performed in most eligible patients who want less pain and a quicker surgical recovery,” Dr. Okafor said. “It is used to treat hip osteoarthritis and other degenerative hip joint conditions, as well as post-traumatic conditions and fracture care.

“However,” he added, “there are patient factors that make other approaches more appropriate - these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.”

The advantages of this surgery include a smaller incision and muscle sparing in which the muscle is not cut to access the hip joint. “This leads to a relatively quicker recovery with generally less pain. There is increased hip stability and decreased dislocation risk when compared to other approaches,” Dr. Okafor said.

Altman was impressed with Dr. Okafor, his staff, and the people at Miami Valley Hospital South.

“Dr. Okafor was just amazing. He is very personable, down to earth, and he actually looked at you, talked with you. His mind wasn’t someplace else,” Altman said. “He has definitely mastered the art of totally communicating with a person. He was genuine.”

After her surgery in October, she was back on the road in January to Florida with her husband. The couple has for the past four years traveled across the country, first to Montana and Glacier National Park. Since then, they have seen more than 20 national parks traveling in the RV.

They now have residency in Texas, where one of Bob’s sons reside, but plan to continue their travels. 

Altman’s advice to others is to keep on the move.

“Motion is lotion,” she said. “The more you move, the better you are going to be. You can’t sit and wait and think it is going to get miraculously better. You have to make it better. You can use a tool, a new hip, a new knee, but you have to spend the time.”