Steven’s Story

My name is Steven and I am 34-years old. When I was 17 and a senior in high school I was working at a fast food restaurant. It was March 5, 1988 and I was getting ready to get off of work. I walked out the back door of the restaurant and slipped and fell on grease in the parking lot. I broke my left hip (the femoral head), it simply snapped in two. I had corrective surgery the following day, the doctor put 2 screws in it and it took about 6 months to recover. During that time, I was on crutches and eventually graduated to a cane. After high school, I was accepted to The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. I was going for an Interior Design degree, my dream for as long as I can remember. On the way to Target to buy things for my new apartment in Los Angeles I was in a very bad car accident. As it happened, I broke my right hip in the same place along with my femur, tibia, fibula and my foot and ankle in about 20 different places. Again I had corrective surgery (2 screws in my hip and a plate to help my femur heal). I had a cast on from my toes to the top of my pelvis for 6 weeks and as soon as I got the cast off I went to LA for college. After being in college for approximately 8 months I started having serious pain in my left hip. I had been working in a department store so I was on my feet quite a lot. Due to the fact that I had just had two surgeries in that past year, I went into denial about my hip and started taking Tylenol with codeine that I was getting from a co-worker. In May of 1989, my mother was in Los Angeles visiting and she noticed that I was limping very severely. She insisted that I go back to Las Vegas with her that weekend and go to the doctor. I did go to a doctor in Las Vegas and he informed me that I had developed Avascular Necrosis in both of my hips. The doctor told me that my hips were not getting enough blood to heal and eventually they would deteriorate severely. The doctor was very clear about the entire situation and gave me some options that I don’t think at the time I was ready to hear. I was almost 19 and I felt like my life was over. I dropped out of Interior Design school and moved back to Las Vegas. The doctor told me that I had 3 choices; one – remove the damaged hips and be in a wheelchair, two – remove the damaged hips, fuse my hip sockets and walk with stiff legs or three – I could go see a surgeon in California who was one of the pioneering doctors in orthopedic surgery. I did visit this surgeon and he offered me a partial hip replacement, hemi-resurfacing, where just the femoral head is resurfaced. That September in 1989 I had hemi-resurfacing on my left hip at UCLA. The following year in August of 1990 I had my right hip resurfaced. At this time I was 20-years old and I had two resurfaced hips. From that point on I was never really able to walk more than 20 minutes at a time without being in severe pain. I learned to live with it. The doctor told me that I would always have some level of pain and since the implant itself was experimental he really didn’t have any answers for me. (At the time I had the implants they had only put them in one other boy, who was 17 at the time). Over the next 8 years I worked in several hotel/casinos in Las Vegas in sedentary jobs – jobs where I was really never on my feet and I lived with the pain. When I was 28, I decided it was time that I went back to school to get my Interior Design degree. I worked full time and went to school full time for three years and got my degree. In 2000, I got a job with a design firm in Del Mar, California and moved to San Diego. In the summer of 2002, I started having severe pain in both of my hips, more than just the everyday pain that I had been living with, so I decided to see my surgeon in California again. He told me that my cartilage still looked good and that I could probably wait another year to have both of my hips replaced. He wanted to replace them with another experimental resurfacing device that was made out of metal. Not knowing any better, I decided that this was my only option. I wasn’t satisfied because I was in so much pain and I desperately wanted to know if there was any alternative., I thought at the time that he was the best and I didn’t really realize that there were alternatives. At this time I started taking painkillers (Vicodin to start, then Percocet) and an anti-inflammatory (Lodine). In October of 2002, I quit work because I was in so much pain that some days I could not even get out of bed. Again, I decided to move back to Las Vegas so I could be near my mother for the upcoming surgeries. In January of 2003, I moved back to Las Vegas. In order to be able to see my surgeon in California, the insurance company had me make an appointment with Dr. Swanson here in Las Vegas to get a referral to get the authorization for the surgeries. This appointment changed my life (literally)!! After the x-rays were taken and I saw and spoke with Dr. Swanson, I realized that I was placing my future in the hands of the wrong doctor. Dr. Swanson explained in thorough detail the resurfacing option that the other surgeon was offering and the procedure that he would perform (the mini-incision total hip replacement using ceramic components to get a long-lasting result). He told me not to rush and gave me literature to research it. That is when I got in touch with Pauline and she assured me that it was the best choice and that she had also seen the same surgeon I had seen in California. My main concern was that I didn’t want to be in pain anymore and I wanted to be able to walk and live a normal life again. I didn’t feel that the surgeon in California was too concerned with my pain. Dr. Swanson was so personable and made me really think about my future and how his procedure would benefit me. It was very emotional for me during the appointment and at that point before I even left the doctor’s office I had made the decision to change doctors and have Dr. Swanson do the surgery. It was the best choice I have ever made in my life. In June of 2003, I had a full left hip replacement followed with the full right hip replacement in October of 2003. I felt so good after the first one that I could not wait until I had the second surgery. Once I had the second surgery, I was back to work in 5 weeks and weaned myself off of the pain pills in January of 2004. For anyone who happens to read this I want to let you know personally that Dr. Swanson and his staff at Desert Orthopedic Center have changed my life. I am now back to my normal self and completely pain free. In April of this year, I went to Zion National Park in Utah and hiked three miles with no pain. I had not done anything like that in almost 20 years.

In closing, I cannot thank Dr. Swanson and Pauline enough for everything they have done, surgically and emotionally – he truly is the miracle in my life that gave me my life back and for that I will be forever grateful.

I hope this inspires all who reads this and if any of you are having any doubts – don’t!! Dr. Swanson truly cares about people and their quality of life and in my opinion he is the best!

Sincerely and with great respect for Dr. Swanson and his team,


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