Five Questions With: Tom Boucher

Communications manager at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island talks about his experience with hip surgery. More

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Five Questions With: Tom Boucher

"I have been struck by how complex the health care system is, how compassionate the health care workers are, and how important it is to have good health insurance."
Posted 12/31/12

Tom Boucher decided to take a leap – having both of his hips resurfaced at the same time to address the degenerative effects of significant osteoarthritis. Boucher, who works as a communications manager at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, was familiar with many aspects of the health care delivery system. But as a result of his surgeries, Boucher said he gained new appreciation for how complex that system is, how compassionate health workers are, and how important health insurance is.

PBN: Why did you decide to have hip surgery on both hips?

BOUCHER: I had “significant osteoarthritis” in my hips according to the x-rays. They had degenerated to the point where I couldn't walk my kids three blocks to their elementary school this fall. I’ve always been pretty active and it was frustrating to not be able to move without pain. Once I made up my mind to do the surgeries, I figured it would be easier to have one recovery process rather go through it twice, so that is why I had the surgeries done at the same time.

PBN: What led you to choose to have hip resurfacing done at South County Hospital?

BOUCHER: There were three reasons, really. First, hip resurfacing has proven successful for younger guys like me who want to return to an active lifestyle. You retain more of your own femur bone in this procedure than in hip replacement and that sounded appealing.

Second, my understanding is that Dr. Robert C. Marchand has done more than 800 of these hip resurfacing surgeries since 2006, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the procedure using the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing system.

Third, South County Orthopedics and Hospital have great reputations. A good friend of mine, who had the same procedure done, spoke very highly about his experience and the results.

PBN: What has your recovery been like? How long before you were back at work?

BOUCHER: I had the surgery on Oct. 9, 2012, and have made slow but steady progress since then. My wife and kids are huge supports. There are many other people involved in my recovery and they have taught me to walk again, be patient and to celebrate “little victories” along the way.

For example, tying my shoes on my own was a recent one. I started working part-time from home after four weeks and returned to the office full time after six weeks.

PBN: What restrictions, if any, do you have on your activities?

BOUCHER: I have no restrictions other than to avoid running and contact sports for a year. I continue with physical therapy and recently started taking hot yoga classes to try to strengthen and loosen my atrophied muscles.

PBN: What have you learned from the experience?

BOUCHER: I have been struck by how complex the health care system is, how compassionate the health care workers are, and how important it is to have good health insurance.

All the care transitions, hand-washing and name-checking before medicines were given happened as they were supposed to.

Everyone – from the surgeons and doctors, nurses and aides, physical therapists, occupational therapists and recreational therapists, janitorial staff, dieticians, blood testers and volunteers – was great.

I am moved by their kindness and care for me – a total stranger to them.

And, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been terrific. The analogy I have for this experience is one of crowd surfing, in that I took this scary leap into the unknown and hundreds of hands were there to catch me and help move me along to wellness.

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