Dubai: Dutch expat Patrick Bol says he’s living proof that a double hip replacement doesn’t have to spell the end to adventure.
The 52-year-old led a four-man rowing expedition across the Atlantic this time last year, and although they failed in their bid to cross the 4,250-km stretch from Senegal to Surinam, it wasn’t due to his surgery.
Team Row4Ocean got 2,880-km of the way before their rudder snapped on their Dh1.8 million rowing boat named ‘Year of Zayed’ sponsored by Bol’s employers DP World. They had been aiming to cross the Altantic in a record of 27 days to raise awareness for plastics in the ocean, but in the end bowed out after 25 days and had to be towed the rest of the way, spending a total 31 days at sea.
“During our trip we faced several technical and psychological problems like broken rudders and a breakdown of our water makers, but my hip joint never gave me any pain or trouble,” said Bol.
Of his hip replacement, he said, “In 2014 after competing in the 10-km of the Dubai Marathon in a decent 38 minutes, I felt a bit stiff, so I took a couple of massages but the stiffness and burning feeling didn’t go away. I then consulted an orthopaedic surgeon in March 2014 who told me I needed a total hip replacement.
“I have been athletic all my life running endurance marathons and doing extreme stuff in the army, such as long marches with kit, and 120-km walks, but I never thought I would require a hip replacement at the age of 48.”
Bol researched surgeons before choosing Dr Mattias Holn, a specialist orthopaedic surgeon from Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery.
“He had done more than 4,000 hip replacement surgeries and his investigations showed that I had a congenital deformity with a shallow hip cup that had resulted in the wearing away of my cartilage,” said Bol.
He underwent the 45 minute surgery and was able to walk again with a week.
“After couple of days when I was discharged I began taking a kilometre walk twice a day, before progressing to 4-5-km within a week, and with a very good physical trainer who worked on my core muscles I engaged in rehabilitation exercises and pilates and was able to drive my endurance bike in the desert within a month.”
Within two months he had completed a 2,300-km endurance expedition across Oman and began preparing for the rowing trip, which involved 14 months of training of about 15 hours a week.
“Besides our day jobs we were literally living in the gym or out on the sea in our training boat, so it was pretty intense,” he said of rowing in pairs with two swapping after two hours of rowing.
Dr Holn, who has also undergone a hip replacement himself, said, “Hip replacements are on the rise in the UAE and across the world. A total hip replacement is most commonly recommended for severe osteoarthritis and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or for problems with development of the hip during childhood. Hip surgery may also be needed for fractures of the hip, including those resulting from osteoporosis.
“While these surgeries usually happen for people in the age group of 50-80 we have been increasingly getting patients in much younger age groups as well. The youngest patient I performed the hip replacement recently was a girl of 21 years of age with a congenital condition that caused her hip joint to wear away,” he said.
Implants made of titanium and ceramics have a good success rate and can last a lifetime, he added.