Torrance Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group
Physical, Hand & Aquatic Therapy
23456 Hawthorne Blvd.,
Torrance, CA 90505-4716
OPENING FALL 2017!
Mike Purpus is a 64-year-old former World and U.S. Surfing Champion. He was born and raised in Hermosa Beach and still lives in the South Bay. Mike had bilateral hip replacement surgeries performed by board certified orthopedic surgeon Todd A. Shrader, M.D. Below, Mike talks about his osteoarthritis and experience with Dr. Shrader and the team at Torrance Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group. Click here to see Dr. Shrader's comments about Mike's case.
Talk about some of your most memorable times as a surfer.
I started surfing when I was ten years old and by the time I was fifteen I was surfing in contests. In high school, I was on the water polo team and the diving team at Mira Costa. After high school, when I got to Hawaii and surfed there I was really glad that I had done water polo and diving because it teaches you endurance in your swimming and holding your breath. In Hawaii you are out so far that you can't even see the people on the beach. Fifteen- to twenty-foot waves catch you inside and they hold you under until you're talking to God, and when you come up you've got to swim right into the break of those big waves and swim all the way to the beach. If I hadn't had all that water polo and diving experience I might have drowned really easily in Hawaii. I have a thousand stories I could tell about surfing. I've spent every moment I could doing it.
How did your hip problems start?
By he time I was fifty, after I couldn't make my entire living on surfing anymore, I got a job bartending. I was working until 3:00 in the morning every day, going to bed when I got home, waking up and having to go right in and open the bar and start all over again. That schedule really did me in, and after a while I was about a hundred pounds overweight and wasn't surfing that much. I saw my doctor, who told me I was going to wind up getting diabetes and having a heart attack before the next two years were up. I said, "Oh, my God," and so I started going up and down the hundred steps that go down to the beach at Knob Hill in Redondo Beach. I dropped ninety pounds in four months by doing that and changing my diet. But I tried to surf and I couldn't stand up. I couldn't move. My legs were killing me and I went back to my doctor, who said, "I forgot to tell you that you need two hip replacements, too." I asked him why he didn't tell me that to begin with and he told me that he thought I wouldn't have lost all that weight and that no surgeon would take me seriously if I went in a hundred pounds overweight and with heart troubles and diabetes.
How did you meet Dr. Shrader?
My doctor sent me to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center to get me started on the process of getting my hips replaced. Dr. Shrader had been the Chief of Sports Medicine there for five years, and the residents knew him. When they saw how bad my hips were, they sent me to him.
What did Dr. Shrader do when he saw you?
He did his own exam and imaging and scheduled surgery. He said he'd never seen hips as bad as mine. He didn't offer any options except surgery. That's how bad it was.
How long was your first surgery?
It was way longer than a normal hip replacement surgery because of how big my bone spur was.
How did you feel afterwards?
Four hours after the surgery, they woke me up and told me to get up and start walking. I thought they were crazy, but they said if I got out of bed right then and started using it, it would hurt, but it would hurt five times worse if I waited. I had to walk around the bed two times just four hours after the surgery. Every day I had to walk around in the hospital until I could walk better and better. After four days they took me into a room with nothing but different staircases and they told me I had to walk up and down them before I could get released. I said, "Give me twenty minutes, this is a piece of cake," and I whizzed through that and went home.
What about the other hip?
A year went by and it was time to do the other hip. It was my good hip, so I wasn't worried. A few days before the operation I met with Dr. Shrader and all the doctors who would be assisting in my surgery. They put up my x-ray and said, "Mike, look at this bone spur. This is the biggest bone spur we've ever seen. It's impossible for a bone spur to be this size." I said, "What are you talking about? This is my good hip." They said, "Don't worry about a thing, Mike. This time we're taking the whole day off just for you."
When I woke up after the second surgery, they were all standing around me looking at my bone spur in a bunch of pictures they took because they couldn't believe how big it was. They said it took three and a half hours to dig it out before they could even start to put in my new hip.
How long was it before you could surf again?
Two months later I went in for a follow-up appointment and Dr. Shrader asked if I was back in the water yet. I said no and he said that after two months it was time for me to try, because he knew how much my life had revolved around surfing. I was really scared to do it again after six years off. I had been U.S. Champion for five years and World Champion for two years, and when I go down to the beach I have people following me and expecting me to do something amazing. It took me two months to be able to stand up on a surfboard again. I had to completely retrain myself from the very beginning, and then sure enough I started getting better and better and it started coming back to me really fast. Last year I wound up winning a contest and right now I'm rated number three in the fifty and over category. At 64 I'm the oldest guy in all of these contests and am surfing against a lot of retired pros that are about fifteen years younger than I am.
How much did physical therapy help you right after the surgery?
It helps a lot. You have got to have the physical therapy just to start getting those muscles limber, no matter how bad it hurts, and you have got to do it every day. It really helped me to have a sport that I love as much as anything else in the world, that I was born to do, to try to get back to. The second week after surgery I took my last painkiller and haven't had even an aspirin since to this day. Before surgery I was going through fifteen aspirin a day and it still hurt. That was just so I could get the pain level down to a seven or an eight on a scale of one to ten, and I was going through five Advil a night just so I could get a couple of hours sleep. You can imagine what that was doing to my stomach lining.
How do you feel today, more than five years after your surgeries?
I'm brand new. It's like I've been reborn. I know that Dr. Shrader did his fellowship at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic for all the pro athletes, so that's why he's one of the elite out of all the surgeons up and down the coast that do replacement surgery. He protected my tendons and muscles with the way he did the surgery, and that's why I can surf again. I'm so happy to be able to surf and do other stuff because I've seen people who had their hips replaced with other techniques and they have scars running all the way down to their knees.
What advice would you give people in a similar situation?
Get it done as soon as possible, as soon as the pain starts keeping you up at night.
Did you like Dr. Shrader's staff?
His secretary Patti is doing paperwork all day long and all night long, trying to figure out the best deal for everybody going through the hospital, whether it's an insurance company, Medicare, Medi-Cal, or SSI disability. She works her tail off and loves doing it. Everyone, the people at the front desk, the physical therapists at TOSMG are great, and they all love working for Dr. Shrader.
What else did you like about Dr. Shrader?
He'll tell a skeptical patient who says they're not sure if they want to have a hip replacement that they're right, they're not ready. He sends them away and tells them to come back when they're ready. He doesn't try to hard sell anything. Everybody calls him "Dr. Shrader" until they have their hips done, but right after surgery they call him their guardian angel and everybody thinks of him the exact same way. He has the ultimate bedside manner of any doctor I have ever met. He could go around the world just lecturing on bedside manner. He's sharp as a tack and knows exactly what he's doing. He's not afraid to bring in the best other professionals if he has any kind of a question at all, to assist or help him do it because he doesn't really care about the money. He cares more about the patient and it really shows.