Phil Mescher, - Legg-Calve Perthes, Resurfaced 06/11/08 Dr. Thomas Gross

I am a 43 year old male who had hip resurfacing surgery on June 11, 2008 (at age 42) with Dr. Thomas Gross and Lee Webb, RN in Columbia, South Carolina. Up front I have to say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

For most of my life I have been very active in sports and other activities; that is until my right hip became so painful I had to stop pretty much everything. I have been a runner completing a half-marathon and several 10K runs, involved in martial arts, basketball, softball, avid weight lifter, cyclist and anything to do with chasing my three little girls around. 

The first time I noticed anything unusual was in my late teens where I had pain in my hip during martial arts workouts. Then about 10-12 years ago, after playing softball my hip would get very stiff and painful. Also, after going for a run (2-3 miles) I would get the same results. It really never hurt while I was doing exercise, only after.
I went to see a doctor because the pain, after exercise, was getting worse and worse. During a regular day the hip did not hurt much at all. But eventually, even after mowing the lawn the hip would be painful. The first doctor I saw did not do any x-rays but only prescribed some physical therapy and ultrasound treatment meant to loosen up tissue in an affected area.
Needless to say this therapy did not work. After some time elapsed I then went to another doctor who took an x-ray and immediately saw something was not completely correct and sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. This is when the shock set in as he said I would need hip replacement surgery in the future and I should quit playing all impact sports.  When the pain got bad enough we could do the surgery, he said. I thought, "What in the hell are you talking about? Hip replacement surgery? Get real!” I am only 32 years old. So I went about my business for a long while and suffered. Slowly I quit playing impact sports because it just hurt too much.

Initial diagnosis was avascular necrosis or AVN of the hip. But after more experienced surgeons examined me it was determined to likely be Legg-Calve Perthes disease. I had a flat spot on the ball portion of my hip socket that eventually wore away all the cartilage resulting in bone on bone contact and sizable pain.
Over the next several years I was able get by without participating in many sports. Then we bought our first house and I started getting into home improvement as a hobby. Things went on for a few of years until my regular activities with the house, playing with the kids, etc. were causing much more pain. Over this period I had seen some articles about hip resurfacing from Dr. Amstutz in California. He repaired a ballet dancer who was back dancing again. I kept that in the back of my mind. 
hikingIn 2006 I decided to go see a surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa who I had learned was trained in hip resurfacing. Well, he was trained but had not done one yet. Additionally, my medical insurance was not covering resurfacing yet in Iowa. Plus, this surgeon said I was not a good candidate for resurfacing and I should get a total hip replacement. The “Gold Standard” as he said. He tried to sell the new metal on metal THR. I was worried about my age, activity level and the potential for several revisions in the future. Things were looking bleak.

Photo: Hiking in Palo Duro canyon in the Texas panhandle

During this time I found the Surfacehippy website and started asking tons of questions. I finally got new x-rays taken and sent them to Dr. Gross (South Carolina), Dr. Bose (India), and Dr. Stachniw (Illinois). They all looked at my x-rays at no charge. Drs. Bose and Gross said I was an excellent candidate for resurfacing. Stachniw was unsure since I had a large cyst on the ball of my femur. Gross said it was no problem and he has worked with issue many times before with great success. Then I learned that Dr. Stachniw had both of his hips resurfaced, by Dr. Gross! I learned there are many talented surgeons doing resurfacing out there and you just have to do your research and go with the one you feel most comfortable with.  One big thing for me personally was that Dr. Gross called me at home and we chatted for 30+ minutes and he answered all my questions. I was so happy after that phone call!
Anyway, I made my decision to get this fixed and started the process. We did everything through my local doctor as far as pre-surgery physical, x-rays, bone density scan, Vicodin prescription, etc. Dr. Gross, his RN, Lee Webb and their main nurse Nancy Smith were all fantastic and always got back to me with answers to my questions within a day.
My wife and I flew from Des Moines to Charlotte and then drove to Columbia. We flew in on Monday, met in person with Dr. Gross and Lee Webb on Tuesday, surgery on Wednesday, released from hospital on Friday and flew home on Sunday. We stayed at a hotel that is walking distance to the hospital. We literally walked over to the hospital the morning of my surgery.
  scooterI was astounded how relatively easy and virtually pain free this surgery was. Nothing like I expected for major surgery. It wasn't until I went for my first walk did I get some muscle cramps. They got me up the very next day to walk on a walker. Since my bone density was a bit less than desired I was on crutches for six weeks and then a cane for a couple of weeks. The drive back to Charlotte and flight back to Iowa was just fine. I think it was harder on my wife than it was me. I was only out of work for four and a half weeks and that included the week of the surgery.

Today I am coaching softball for my 13 year old daughter's team. I can run, squat like a catcher, bat, run, catch fly balls, play golf, cycle, etc. All of this activity with no hip pain. I feel like I can do anything. I am also back to lifting weights and running on an elliptical trainer. Life is good, again. The only downside is that I no longer have an excuse to get out of shopping with my wife. I love her, but not shopping.

Thank you to all the folks on the Surfacehippy website that provided me with knowledge, personal experiences, support and encouragement. There are also a few special ones who actually came to visit me in the hospital and others who have stayed in touch to this date.

Photo: Riding my daughter's scooter