My Hipster Journey: Brent’s Total Hip Replacement

My first major hip injury was more than 30 years ago while water skiing, and I have been managing hip pain ever since.  Two weeks ago, I had a state-of-the-art anterior total hip replacement.  I couldn’t be more pleased or impressed with my surgeon, Juan Suarez MD, his team, Doctors Hospital Miami, and my rehab team at Polestar Miami.  I want to share the emotional, behavioral, and spiritual journey preparing me for a total hip replacement. 

I questioned whether I could still be whole after having a piece of my femur removed and replaced by bionic parts.  Most who know me well know how much I love to shake my hips when the music starts.  Based on my upbringing in South Sacramento and my frequent visits to Latin-American countries, I like to move my hips in all planes.  The thought of not being able to express my groove because of residual hip pain weighed heavily on me.  Every fiber of my body wanted to move to the beat, not to mention hike, travel, and run for charity.  Unfortunately, my fear of pain started to outweigh the joy of dancing and movement.  

Nearly 9 years ago I gave up pole-vaulting after an accident that resulted in a 4-level fusion and a lot of hardware in my neck.  Here I am, 55 and unable to dance, run, or jump.  Am I whole?  I never imagined myself so young and cut off from basic human movement activities.  Isn’t it our right to be able to move in any way we want?  Moderate periods of depression were manifesting more frequently.  I struggled with an emotional conflict between my desires to be anatomically whole vs being whole in my participation in life, able to move and express myself as an athlete and mover. 

It was time to return to life; I chose the bionic hip option. 

I am now looking forward to the ability to express myself through movement and play for years to come.  That said, I did promise Lizette, my wife, and others in my close circles that I would not pole-vault again, but I never said anything about kitesurfing. 

As many of you know, I teach how behavior can influence a successful rehabilitation.  The literature teaches us that our perceptions and beliefs influence our reality even as high as an 80% correlation.  Knowing about this powerful influencer, I spent months, if not years, preparing for a successful hip replacement by working on my belief of what it would be like.  I had a very clear picture of bone on bone from my x-rays that could have been debilitating.  

Nevertheless, I believed that I could have a positive outcome if I kept my tissues in their best possible shape through Myofascial Release and maintained the best possible range of motion through Pilates and Feldenkrais.  It is hard for any of us to see anything different once we’ve seen a picture of a source of pain within our body. 

I have been researching for years the best procedure, best surgeons, best anesthesia/pharmaceutical intervention (minimal narcotic), and pre and post-surgical protocols.  I interviewed four top surgeons around the country and was looking for that spiritual and guttural confirmation of who would do the surgery. 

As I sat with Dr. Suarez, I felt not only his experience and expertise were top notch, but I also felt his humility through a deep desire to learn and customize the procedure so that I would have the optimal experience.  My heart and gut immediately confirmed that this was my doctor. 

Even though each of the doctors I interviewed were leaders in their specialty, Juan Suarez, MD was going to be my surgeon.  I share all of this because it was part of my journey to know that I had done everything possible to give me the greatest odds to walk out of that hospital with hope of returning to a more normal lifestyle.  I believed that I was going to have a relatively pain-free procedure.  I was going to be surrounded by my rehab team to support me for the two weeks post-op.  Wendy Haskell, PT and Elizabeth Jimenez, LMT provided daily treatments assuring me that I had made a good decision and that restored movement was around the corner for me.  I believed!

Hope is a spiritual attribute right up there with gratitude, compassion, love, and forgiveness.  I realized that as I continued to decline in my physical activity levels, I was losing hope in my hip being able to do its job.  At the same time, I learned lessons of gratitude for all that I have been given and compassion for all those around me who suffer more than me.  I feel that the universe has taught me to be grateful for the abundance that I enjoy every day of my life, most importantly my relationships with my family, friends, and God.  I have learned that even though pain can affect my ability to walk, run, and jump with ease, it only strengthened my compassion for my patients, clients, family, and humanity.  What a great gift to experience the pre-surgical fear and anxiety that my patients experience including apprehension of the first step on a leg, when it seems like it doesn’t belongs to you, and my physical therapist says “time to go for your first walk.” 

My first walk, truth be told, was not all roses.  I had just had an injection of Tramadol, and I felt the buzz come over me.  The therapist arrived and put the belt on me.  “Be brave Brent,” were my thoughts.  I stood up, to my surprise, with no pain.  We took a couple of steps towards the bathroom, and I was feeling very lightheaded.  By the time we got to the bathroom, I knew I was going down.  I asked for someone to please grab the gait belt; I was going down.  I guess no one heard me, or maybe I just imagined I said it, and I remember wedging myself between the toilet and sink and trying to minimize the damage.  To my surprise, it wasn’t my therapists that caught me but my wife Lizette, and I came to, sitting on her knees, squished between the toilet and sink.  I am so glad she was there, and I’m not sure where my therapists went, but I figured, things could only get better from here.  

I had no pain in my hip and I was able to walk back to the bed with minimal assistance.  AMAZING!  

I was out of the hospital the next day.  I felt a renewed hope.  Was I really going to have a new hip that didn’t have pain?  Well, two weeks after surgery, I am walking without assistive devices, going up and down stairs without holding on to the rail, and preparing to pole vault in the seniors’ competition (not really). 

 I am convinced that this journey over 30 years culminating with a new hip has improved the quality of my life physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I am eternally grateful for my family, friends, and brave patients who have supported me, physically helped me, spiritually fed me, and blazed a path for me to follow.    

Follow along with Brent on Social Media @brentpolestar

Reader Interactions


  1. I can so relate to what you have been through! After my spinal surgery, (ruptured disc with a piece that migrated), I too was filled with doubts. I didn’t have your team of physical therapists and it took me a while to find THE ONE. Once she felt I was ready to think about moving again, her question was to ask my goal. MY GOAL was to be able to do cartwheels again.
    The day came when I was told that I was ready……..A good talking to myself and trust in my body and like you, it was “here goes”, I am going to do this.
    Thanks for sharing your experience post op as I think many people, including Pilates teacher, who haven’t personally been through surgery can’t really understand what it’s like. You described it perfectly.

  2. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us, Brent. I’m so excited to see your restored movement and improved quality of life. Overcoming pain is a huge obstacle to face. And YOU DID IT!

  3. Thank you for sharing this Brent! I completely agree that you need to have that guttural “feeling” that you will get better. Having faith and trust in your outcome and team are critical.

    • I am super interested and driven to work with a team of professionals to better understand this aspect of the journey to share with future patients that sometimes perceive such a surgery as overwhelming and it paralyzes their life. I would like to think we could create a training that focuses on expectation, behavior, hope and confidence in such a successful procedure like this one. I am open to ideas about how to take on such a task and for that mater dealing with any overwhelming healthcare procedure. I appreciate your comments Bob and your courage for your journey.

  4. Thank you, Brent, for sharing your story. I had a cervical disc replacement last year. After suffering terrible nerve pain for more than 6 months from a herniated disc – I’m talking crying through the night because the intense pain wouldn’t let me sleep – I gave up my resistance to surgery and I’m now a huge fan of modern medicine, when appropriate. 🙂 Situations like ours are what these procedures were meant for. Before the surgery, I stretched, massaged, and strengthen every single muscle and fascial band in my body. I needled every meridian, but nothing helped. After the surgery, I continue to work on maintaining my mobility with Pilates and myofascial release techniques. I have a renewed appreciation that “physical fitness is – indeed – the first requisite of happiness.” My best wishes to you and your family for a full recovery and return to a life filled with joy and lots of dance moves.

    • Thank you Mara,
      I so appreciate your words and story and knowing how to tell the difference between the many successes we have with the manual therapies, Pilates, emotional balancing and when it is time to surrender to something as invasive as a cervical disc replacement or hip replacement. Here is to knowing how to differentiate the difference with the mind set to always try conservative and alternative first before venturing into the more invasive procedures. That said, thank goodness the technology and science of modern medicine can step in when it is really needed and the ailment and or physical limitation is cramping our lifestyle. Return to Life

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience Brent. As you know, it has been almost two decades that I’ve been treating patients and there’s no better outcome than one-to-one treatments that include Myofascial Release and exercises that incorporate whole body alignment and strengthening such as Pilates. Since changing my treatment options to both MFR and Pilates, I have accomplished taking my hip replacement patients farther than ever imagined or experienced with traditional physical therapy. My patients are biking, playing basketball, dancing, walking on the beach, and sitting on the floor without pain or discomfort. I am so proud of you and everything you are doing to getting yourself back to enjoying life. I love you and everything you stand for. I wish I was in Miami to cheer you on. Big hugs Brent and my love to Lisette and the family.

    • Hi Roxana,
      thank you so much for you kind words. You really are a gift to your patients and we keep sharing with the hope that our colleagues can have similar outcomes with the combination of structural and strategic interventions like MFR and Pilates. Big hugs!!

  6. Thanks Brett for sharing an experience that helps bridge the gap between conservative therapies and more invasive approaches to wellness.It’s such a gray area for so many of our clients. As a Polestar instructor and water fitness instructor, I see many clients who are pre and post surgery. Hearing your story helps us better understand their mind set. Best of luck on your recovery and return to life.

  7. Bravo to you Brent for sharing! Well done! I remember hearing from you years ago about your surgery with Dr. Phillipon at an IADMS meeting and then also after your neck injury. It’s not easy for a guy of your stature to be honest about your personal trajectory. Fact is, none of this has ever side-lined you or your team from slacking off on your mission. I really admire what you’ve done for us all, to bring making life whole as life changes. Thank you for your countless contributions.

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