January 22, 2018
It’s not every day that a patient writes a book about his surgical experience, but that’s exactly what John Harbour set out to do when he decided to have a hip replacement.
Aptly titled, “Diary of Hippie: A Real-Life Journal of What to Expect during a Total Hip Replacement,” the highly personal account chronicles the author's journey from his diagnosis to choosing an orthopedic surgeon and hospital, through the procedure and recovery. Starting his journal several weeks prior to surgery, he shares his fears, hopes, milestones, and information gleaned from undergoing the process himself.
“Most books about medical procedures are written by doctors or other healthcare professionals. It’s always fascinating to hear the patient’s perspective,” said his orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Geoffrey Westrich (), who had no idea his patient was chronicling his experience. “The book contains a lot of good information and can be very helpful for other patients considering hip replacement or scheduled for the procedure,” added Dr. Westrich, research director of the Adult Reconstruction and Joint Replacement Service at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City.
Harbour, who lives in New York, has had a number of interesting jobs, including as a writer, with a previous novel and various articles to his credit. His latest book on his hip replacement consists of day-to-day journal entries detailing what he was experiencing, with inspirational quotes and “what you need to know” sections.
Harbour had been suffering from pretty bad hip arthritis for the past 12 years. An Air Force veteran whose service required extreme physical demands, high altitude parachuting, along with competitive racquetball, skiing and soccer had taken a toll on his right hip. It got progressively worse, and over the last five years, the deep ache in his hip was unrelenting, even when he was sitting. Tying his shoelaces and even putting on socks were a major challenge.
Despite a physically demanding career in the military and fearless participation in extreme sports, he approached the prospect of surgery with a great deal of trepidation. “I had a lot of fear, worrying about what the outcome would be and possible complications,” Harbour recalls.
He conducted extensive research to find an orthopedic surgeon and hospital and decided on Dr. Westrich and Hospital for Special Surgery. Harbour had no trouble obtaining detailed information on the procedure, but he failed to find information and advice on what he would go through from a patient’s perspective. So he decided to write about his own experience and feelings in the form of a journal, from the weeks leading up to the surgery to the days, weeks and months that followed.
Ultimately, Harbour seeks to reach people who may have severe arthritis pain but are holding off on surgery because they are afraid. “Hip replacement is everything everyone tells you it’s going to be in terms of pain relief,” he says. “It was the best decision of my life, aside from marrying my wife. Now, I’ll be sitting and watching TV, and all of a sudden I realize that I have no pain. I can walk for miles in New York City pain-free.” In the book, Harbour thanks Dr. Westrich and Hospital for Special Surgery “for providing such amazing care.”
In his “Day 1: Sleeping Without Pain” entry, he writes that the deep pain in his hip is already gone, and it’s “like hearing music for the first time.” Still, he wisely points out that everyone heals at their own pace and no two experiences are identical. He ends his book by saying, “my goal was to provide some trail markers and share my experience to serve as a beacon and hopefully provide some calm.”
The book is available from various booksellers, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon (), where it has received 4.7-star reviews to date.
About John Harbour
John Harbour is a United States Air Force veteran where he served as a hostage rescue sniper with the Emergency Services Team (EST) and the leader of an airborne quick response team (AFT). He was last stationed outside of Las Vegas in the middle of the Nevada desert. He served as diplomatic protection at the United Nations headquarters in New York, is a classically trained actor, has tended bar, worked in advertising and technology and enjoys nothing more than traveling the world searching for stories.
John lives in New York City with his wife and is the author of articles, short fiction, and the novel Nighthawks. He is an incurable wanderlust and is currently working on the novel The Heart. Diary of a Hippie: A Real-Life Journal of What to Expect During a Total Hip Replacement is his first non-fiction book. Visit him at
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