Photo of John Bawol standing in his ski bibs with his downhill skis leaning against his right shoulder.

John Bawol - St. Helen, MI

"When physical therapy didn’t resolve my issue, Dr. Morse and I agreed surgery was needed. Today my range of motion is back and I’ve been able to hit the slopes again!”."

Hip Replacement Keeps Skier Optimistic About Returning to the Slopes

As an avid downhill skier and former ski instructor, John Bawol is no stranger to medical procedures. A rotator cuff repair over twenty years ago and a total knee replacement in 2013 have made John an experienced patient and strong proponent of physical therapy. When his trainer recently pointed out a limp while John was walking on the treadmill, he decided he’d better schedule an appointment to see his doctor.

“I’ve been known to have a pretty good pain tolerance,” said Bawol. “I had been experiencing some discomfort and knew my range of motion was reduced because I was having trouble rotating to the left to catch the ski lift. But I had been muddling through it until someone pointed out that I was moving differently.”

After obtaining an initial round of X-rays from his primary care physician, Bawol asked that the results be sent to Orthopedic Surgeon Patrick Morse, M.D. Dr. Morse had performed Bawol’s previous surgeries, so he had a strong level of comfort going to him again for his hip. “I want to be in control of my health care, not have a physician dictating treatment,” Bawol said. “I am interested in being presented with options and to be able to work together on a solution. That’s what I have been able to do with Dr. Morse over the years.”

Bawol admits to asking a lot of questions. He stated that he’s never felt rushed at appointments or to make decisions involving his care. Dr. Morse even allowed him to record a Q & A at the office on his cell phone so he could review the information later. When an attempt at physical therapy didn’t resolve the issue, Dr. Morse ordered a round of more in-depth X-rays. He found that Bawol had been functioning with bone-on-bone in his left hip, and surgery became their treatment plan.

“John’s good health and active lifestyle going in certainly helped him better tolerate the procedure and recover quickly,” said Dr. Morse. “He is also highly motivated and positive. These are powerful components in a patient’s healing process and should not be underestimated.”

Since surgery in June, Bawol has been working to keep his hip strong. He has regained his ability to turn with ease and feels like he’s back to 90 percent just two months post-surgery. Looking back, he wishes he might have reached out a little earlier and would encourage others to see a doctor right away if something is bothering them. If surgery is needed, he believes sticking to the prescribed therapy is important. “Equally important,” said Bawol, “is working with a doctor you are comfortable with. Dr. Morse has always made it easy, and his bedside manner is phenomenal. He’s a great surgeon, but he’s also a great person.”

Bawol, who also happens to be a retired 911 director, is confident he’ll be back to 100 percent soon and able to resume his ski trips to Utah, including one he has planned for the end of this year.

More information about MyMichigan’s comprehensive musculoskeletal program can be found at www.mymichigan.org/msk.

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