For Steven Casper his 35-year journey with karate has been as much a spiritual path as a way to stay healthy and fit. When Steven was in his mid-forties he found his karate side snap kick painful during training and the framework of his life began to slowly deteriorate.
“Every six months there would be another technique I couldn’t perform,” he said. “I was in pain and losing the ability to train or live the life I loved.”
Steeled by a life framed by hard work, karate and music, Steven wasn’t going to let this throw him to the mat. He sought the help of a chiropractor, but found no relief. For several years he also tried supplements such as Glucosamine sulfate and Chondraiten sulfate as well as Camboucha tea; nothing worked. By the time he was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, Steven’s ability to practice karate and play with his band had continued to diminish. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints. Cartilage is a protein substance that serves as a “cushion” between the bones of the joints.
With increasing pain and his mobility becoming more hampered, surgery was his only option. “When I found out I needed hip replacement surgery, Dr. Moreland’s name kept coming up,” Steven said. Dr. John Moreland is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Saint John’s Health Center. “His attitude and confidence was a winning combination for me,” Steven adds. “That, plus the fact that he had successfully operated on several athletes closed the deal.”
Steven prepared for the surgery with his usual gusto by adding several weight-training exercises to his routine to strengthen his leg muscles. He also prepared himself mentally and credits his mantra for getting him through the tough parts. “Before the surgery, I heard someone on the radio discuss how to get through tough things in life. The speaker said, ‘Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional’ and that really resonated with me. I found you could control pain with a positive mental attitude.”
On the second day after surgery at Saint John’s, Steven started physical therapy. “By the fourth day, I was using a walker down the hospital hallway. Within six weeks I was back at the gym, and at six months Dr. Moreland cleared me to resume all my activities. It’s been nine years. I’m now 56, and I still teach and spar the younger guys at the dojo as well,“ he said.
At his eight-year checkup last year, Steven’s prosthesis showed no wear. “I find that remarkable, especially since I’m a very active guy,” he said. Besides his karate training, Steven has entered the demanding annual Stair Climb to the Top race event to climb the 1,500 steps of the 75-story US Bank Tower (Now the Library Tower) four times. He took 4th place in 2003 and 3rd in 2006. “By the 35th floor you feel you’re dying so you use your mind to make it to the top. It’s all about using your mind to vanquish whatever you face,” he explains. “And that’s on my new hip.”
Steven also credits the care he received at Saint John’s for his recovery. “I received excellent care at Saint John’s. The nurses were wonderful,” he emphasized. “A positive attitude and faith in your surgeon will get you back on your feet. Dr. Moreland gave me back my life.”