So how did I get to know about resurfacing? One day, as I was back in the gym trying very hard to do some lower body exercises so as not lose the rest of everything, a fellow named Mike Zeller plopped down next to me. He had a bad accident playing soccer in which he was head butted in the hip. This caused a condition called avascular necrosis (AVN) in which the ball of the hip dies. He was rehabbing a resurfacing he got in Los Angeles, from Harlan Amstutz. He gave me the contact information. What a really nice guy.
I never saw Mike again, since he moved fairly soon after that, but he said he was hoping to be active once more. That seemed almost too good to be true. I researched Amstutz on the web and found the Joint Replacement Institute (JRI). They seemed quite respectible (they are). I also found a support group called surface hippy. If you have OA or related dysfunction of the hip and need more information, join surface hippy. It was one of the best things I ever did, since I could finally compare notes with people who were suffering much as I was.
Thanks Mike… I don’t know what happened to you, but you did your good deed for the day.
My chats with JRI did not go well. They wanted a lot of money before they’d talk to me, wanted me to sign some sort of California-specific waiver for my right to sue them and, well, I just didn’t like the treatment I got. It was very much along the lines of “another one of the masses.” They stuck me on a waiting list, then they messed that up, then they stuck me on a list again. I’d made other arrangements (more on that in a second) and amusingly enough, they gave me a breathless call months after I was fixed telling me to drop everything because they had time for me, to the tune of $40,000. Oh was I happy to tell them no thanks. Let me quickly add that several acquaintances on surface hippy have gone there and they all say it is excellent care and are ecstatic about their new hips. This is not a medical issue at all. I suspect I just ran into some administrators who rubbed me the wrong way.
On surface hippy, I got to know about an olympic judo contender named David Walker. He got a BHR from Derek McMinn. I called McMinn’s office (remember I lived in Europe: most Americans assume every place on Earth outside the US is some Third World country, but I knew better.) I got a chance to talk to him and not merely had he gotten relief from the symptoms, but he’d returned to competition and had just won the European Master’s Championship. I wrote to and generally pestered all the athletes I could find. They told similar stories. So I booked it for August 1, 2001 in Birmingham England. The implant, by the way, is called a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing because it was developed there, largely by McMinn himself.