Claus Thiles of Lake Ozark, Missouri, recently wrote us to describe his life before and after surgery, and graciously allowed us to reproduce his letter here:
My journey that brought me to you essentially began 12 years ago in Denver at the age of 48. I was experiencing some pain in my left hip which was diagnosed as osteoarthritis. The treatment was anti-inflammatory medication, and pain medication as the pain became worse. This regimen worked fine until the pain became constant and more and more debilitating, at which time I began the research into the various options that were available.
I considered myself healthy and in fairly good condition so surgery was the last thing on my mind. Regular exercise appeared to be the treatment of choice that along with acupuncture and physical therapy carried me along for several years. Thinking that I could stay ahead of the disease I continued down the path of various treatments which in the end did nothing but delay the surgery.
Exploring the surgical options only served to make me more and more reticent due to the invasive nature of the procedures that I was shown. By this time both hips were involved and the pain was not getting any better. I was loosing range of motion in both hips and ultimately had to use a cane full time to get around. All of the surgeons that I interviewed with made the same diagnosis and the only fix was surgery.
I was still convinced that there had to be something else available that would help the condition. The next step was cortisone treatment injections. The first couple gave me some relief for 6-8 weeks, but each time the pain and range of motion were worse after the effects wore off.
During this entire period of what ended up being 11 years, I took every NSAID and pain medication I could find to get relief. Dosages kept increasing and I was concerned about the side effects and I knew that there was a surgical procedure in my future; I just hadn’t found the surgeon or the procedure.
After many months of internet research I was led to a surgeon in Missouri that was doing a relatively new minimally invasive procedure, thus I was introduced to Dr. Bal. My initial appointment in January of 2005 opened the door that I was searching for, a surgeon and a procedure that I felt comfortable with.
The Journey after Surgery
Dr. Bal and his entire staff made me feel as though they were genuinely interested in my well being. They understood the feelings that a patient has regarding major surgery and helped to alleviate my fears, not an easy task. After the initial consultation Dr. Bal indicated that he would be glad to answer any questions I had via email, little did he know that I would put his generosity to the test.
From January to June of 2005 we exchanged emails what seemed to be several times a week. Dr. Bal, unfailingly, answered every email. I finally ran out of questions and decided to schedule THA surgery fro my right hip. The date was July 19, 2005. As luck would have it I came across an article that discussed Prolotherapy as a treatment for severe osteoarthritis. I cancelled the surgery and tried a course of Prolotherapy, several months later things were not any better.
I knew now that I was out of options so the surgery was reset for January 2006.
The minimally invasive (MIS-2) procedure that Dr. Bal used allowed me to be up and around the next day. I was amazed that the pain in my right hip I had the previous day was gone! Now it was a matter of rehab and healing. The nurse physical therapist that came for my in-home rehab was amazed at how quickly I was able to fully use the new hip. Her husband had a hip replaced 2 years earlier using the traditional total hip procedure and he wasn’t able to use his hip as well as I was after 4 weeks of healing. She is going to recommend Dr. Bal to him to get his second hip replaced.
After seeing and feeling the results of my first hip replacement I was ready, 5 months later to have my left hip replaced as well. I was able to face the second procedure without trepidation and looked forward to life without hip pain. Now, seven months after my second THA procedure, I am living life pain free with full range of motion in both hips.
I now do all of the things I did 12 years ago and feel a very young 60 years old. Now my days are spent managing my company and looking forward, with excitement, to each and every day without hip pain!
My story ends with a true debt of gratitude to Dr. Bal and his team for allowing me to reclaim my life and well being. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!
Claus D. Thiles