At 72, Michael Nick is happily retired in Belmont, and more active than he was at age 50. He plays tennis four times a week. He plays golf once a week. He goes for walks nearly every day.
This wasn't always possible. Hip pain limited his activities for years, until he first had one hip replaced and then the other. Why did he wait so long?
"Fear of the unknown," he says. "Just the thought of somebody cutting me open and putting a metal replacement joint in my body…I thought it would limit my ability to be active. It turned out to be the opposite."
Now he tells his friends: "Don't wait. You don't need to suffer."
Nick retired at age 58 from his position as director of sales for Kraft Foods in the western U.S. By that time, pain often radiated down his leg. When giving a presentation, he kept a chair next to him so he could sit down quickly after his talk. "When my wife and I would go to a show, I'd have to get up and move around after 20 minutes because sitting was so painful," he recalls.
He thought his knee was going out, so he consulted with Paul Hazelrig, M.D., an orthopedic specialist at the Mills-Peninsula Advanced Joint Care and Replacement Center in Burlingame.
X-rays showed he had bone on bone in his right hip. The problem had never been in his knee. He had his right hip replacement and after 12 weeks was back playing tennis. "Frankly, I told my friends that I forget I've got that thing in me! I was pain-free and walking normally," he says.
But four years later he took up golf, and pivoting to swing the club put pressure on his left hip, which also had osteoarthritis. The pain grew progressively worse. This time he didn't wait.
"Dr. Hazelrig told me I could put the surgery off but it's not going to get any better. I didn't want to give up tennis or golf," he says with a chuckle. "That's what keeps me out of trouble."
So, four years after his first hip replacement, he had his other hip replaced. "I recently had an X-ray and the joints are perfect," he says. "I expect them to last a lifetime."