It’s all about the pain. That’s the one thought that consistently races through your mind…and you’ll try anything to get rid of it. Really. First you try the OTC medications: Advil, Tylenol, aspirin (the miracle drug—but not for this)—anything. When that doesn’t work you graduate to the “pain clinics” that have sprouted up throughout South Florida. After all—you’re not alone—many talk show hosts swear that miracles have occurred—that shots were given and pain disappeared.

You want to believe this type of endorsement because at some point the quality of life deteriorates and you really can’t do the things that were easy to accomplish—just a few months ago. Bending, reaching and stretching become activities of the past—and you start to feel—for lack of a better word—old.

Because no matter how you sit, walk, lie down, exercise (if you can) or work (which sometime becomes quite painful)…the nagging and often times searing pain creeps in and ruins your day. And its not just mental…you can see it on the faces of all those having the same problem—the “bad hip grimace” written across the face of anyone suffering from a deteriorating hip. And it’s not funny. After all—my parents had bad hips. Uncle Al from Brooklyn had bad hips. Aunt Sophie had a bad hip. How can this happen to me? I’m not old! Not me.

But it does happen…and sooner or later you have to come to grips with the fact that you need a surgeon to analyze your situation and make recommendations…because life can’t go on without quality…and there’s no quality with a bad hip. That’s the moment of epiphany.

That’s also the start down the road to recovery…when you make the call and see the doctor. My decision—after excellent recommendation from other physicians—was to seek the counsel of Dr. Bill Leone of Holy Cross Hospital. Not only was this the right decision for me—but it put me on a path that resulted in focusing on “really” getting rid of the pain—and more importantly—getting my life back.

Working with Dr. Leone and his staff in itself is “therapeutic.” Each person with whom you come into contact has empthathy for your needs…and understands that you’re in pain…and probably have been for a long time. The point is this—the relationship you establish the moment you walk in the door is—for lack of a better word—nurturing. You’re not just another patient—you’re someone who needs their help—and they understand that above all—care and concern must be administered to you…not because it’s their job—but because it’s the right thing to do…and they are all part of a well organized team of concerned healthcare professionals. And that is the difference or “magic” that you feel at the Leone Center. Bottom line? It feels right.

Once the x-rays are taken and reviewed—and a course of action is discussed and agreed upon…the healing process begins…and that could be weeks before you enter Holy Cross for your surgery. Just knowing what’s really wrong with you…knowing what course of action is to be taken…and having a plan…that focus is as strong as prescriptive medicine. Because you now know what’s going to happen and that there is going to be an end to the misery within your body—life gets better.

No one likes surgery….for the uninitiated it’s just plain scary. Going to the hospital, meeting nurses, doctors, having needles placed in your arm, decisions on healthcare surrogates and other “legal” documents—and thinking that you’re not in control of your own body. Not good—and definitely not fun! In fact you’re probably going to be surrounded by a team or teams of strangers who will poke, prod, drain, infuse, feed—-all the good things that come when you surrender yourself to the “system.” As I said, scary.

The most wonderful surprise is that this team, this group, this doctor is—different. You realize that you are part of their team…that you are part of the decision making process and that you are treated not as a number or “just another patient” but as a member of your team…the team that will work with you, try to give you back your life. And you know what? They feel good about it. So ultimately—you feel good about it and that’s the difference.

Starting with the workshop or lecture given by the hospital letting you know what the process is all about (no surprises) and how you will be working with the staff at Holy Cross and eventually ending up in your room post surgery surrounded by well trained and caring nurses, assistants, therapists and other support staff—your journey to recovery is really a fairly seamless experience. There’s pain—but it is mitigated in various ways with medications and activity. Part of dealing with the pain is learning how to deal with yourself—knowing what’s coming and preparing for it. So pain—as we would normally define it…isn’t the big concern. It’s handled. You’ll handle it!

But that’s the regimen for the Leone Center. Working with you. Explaining. Creating trust and understanding. It’s not just the medicine or the surgery or the therapy. It’s the psychology of the team—the caring for and understanding of patients needs—and knowing just what to do to make it better. That prescription can’t be filled at any pharmacy…it comes from the heart after years of training and working with hundreds of folks just like me and you.

Weeks later the pain disappears and life—as you knew it—returns. That energy to want to go out and be part of what was so painful just earlier…comes back. And you know what? That grimace that was etched across your face? It’s gone. Life is good—again. Thank you seems so inadequate to all those working with Dr. Leone—-but you know—-that’s all that’s needed. Just a simple thank you.