Ask the Doctors

Here we are again with a few letters from you, the readers. The ongoing dialogue you create is fascinating, informative and often inspiring. Your thank-you notes, in which you let us know that something we explained or suggested has helped you in some way, are especially gratifying. And quite often, the information you share about your own health care journeys is valuable enough to pass along.

After reading our column about hip replacement, a reader was kind enough to share her own story. Taking the time to get ready for surgery made all the difference to the success of the procedure.

"The best advice I got for my hip replacement was from my internist and surgeon –- prepare beforehand for the surgery," she wrote.

The reader was in her 40s when she learned that a hip replacement was in her future. Fast-forward a few decades and, at age 70, tired of the ongoing pain, she decided it was time to get a new hip. Two new hips, as it turned out. Although her surgeon was skeptical because no one her age had ever had a double hip replacement at that hospital, she was determined.

"The only way (my surgeon) would do it was if I lost weight and got in shape," she wrote. At 5 feet 6 inches tall and 182 pounds, this was definitely a challenge. Following the advice of her internist, our intrepid reader joined an exercise class in the warm water therapy pool at her local YMCA.

"I gave myself a year," she wrote. "Went to class six days a week for an hour a day. I became a vegetarian, except I do eat fish."

Following a successful surgery to replace both of her hips, she spent 3 1/2 days in the hospital. Four weeks later, she gave up her walker. Eleven weeks post-surgery, she returned to her exercise classes in the YMCA pool.

"Tell your patients to prepare, prepare, prepare," she wrote. "It makes all the difference in the world for ease of any pain and for mobility. If you lose the weight, it is easier getting up and down. I'm down to 144 pounds, and it has made a world of difference."

To which we would like to add a hearty congratulations! 

A reader (and retired journalist) from Clovis, California, was interested in the list of gut-friendly foods in our column about boosting the bacterial microbiome. She is allergic to walnuts and wonders whether any other nuts are considered to be prebiotics. The answer is that yes, almonds are also a gut-friendly food. A handful per day will make your intestinal flora quite happy.

Finally, in our column about how to gain weight, we heard from a registered dietitian. She wishes that we had included the suggestion that the reader consult with a registered dietitian to learn the complexities of the body mass index, or BMI, as well as a broader array of strategies to add calories to the diet.

As ever, thank you for reading our columns and for the ongoing conversation. It's both a pleasure and an honor.

(Send your questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.)

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