When I decided to have the surgery, I couldn’t step away from my presentation appearances as it would raise too many questions, so I booked a private clinic to recover two weeks after the surgery. For anyone who can afford it, there is no better way to recover. Mine was close to home in Surrey and I admit I was scared of the surgery, spending the weekend in Dublin with my family and touring tourist trails like the Guinness factory before I was supposed to be admitted. While I was on that family hiatus, Terry Wogan died, so I spent most of my time answering media inquiries for memories of him. It wasn’t the most relaxing day, but it reminded me of all our orthopedic conversations — Terry had knee problems while mine had hip problems — and we always spent quite a bit of time discussing surgeons and hospitals.
My procedure took a little longer than expected – they hadn’t realized my bones were so hard. I woke up in the recovery room with my wife Ruth, but both of us were blissful at this clinic: asking her to take care of my wounds and bandages didn’t please (me or her) one bit. Gallagher has said he would rather be wheeled around in a wheelchair by his partner Debbie than have the surgery done. My Ruth made it clear she wasn’t going to push me around. In fact, on one occasion, while receiving mobility assistance at an airport, I was wheeled through the huge departure lounges by a female assistant. Ruth said, “I can’t believe you’re letting that woman push you, you big lump in that chair!” I couldn’t have asked for a male boarding assistant, though, and since Ruth refused, it was.
I have back problems so I sometimes use a cane to relieve the pressure but as far as my hips go the surgery was like a Formula 1 pit stop – they put new tires on and off you go, as good as new or even better better than before. There are many people who, at the age of 30, 40 or 50, naturally need a hip prosthesis and can go back to their favorite sport quickly and easily after the operation. I am frankly evangelical that regardless of your age, stage, or reason why you need the surgery, your life will only be bettered if you have it done. People should be more understanding and grateful that the technology and human resources are there to make this all so seamless. The recovery time is two to four weeks on average, but gets you back on your feet immediately, on the day of the operation or the day after, and through physio appointments – especially in swimming pools, where you can work more easily on your mobility – the vast majority of people people is right in no time.
If anything, I see hip prostheses more as anti-aging: if you can use them to do everything you’ve done before and even take on more activities, how could it not be? I remember dancing with a woman at an event before I did mine, and as I shuffled stiffly, she moved like you wouldn’t believe it – before telling me her hips were being replaced. She told me to have it done and that I wouldn’t regret it. She was absolutely right. That means there’s no way you’ll ever see me on Strictly Come Dancing; I’m so happy they work now that I’m too nervous to get them through the wrestler with splits and twists and turns. I’d rather have working hips than win Strictly, and that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Due to my current back problems I am not able to play golf again as I had hoped but the surgery has resulted in no more pain and sleep which is priceless.
I really understand Gallagher’s reticence about the whole thing. The fear is real: no one really wants to say, hey, put me on an operating table and start dismembering me. It’s quite a tough operation, especially if you’re having both hips done at the same time. But seven years later I can say with confidence: It worked. Don’t look back angry Liam, just do it.
As Charlotte Lytton was told