Pamplemousse Chef Gets More Time in the Kitchen
Building one of San Diego’s most successful restaurants took a lot of hard work and skill, but also took its toll on Pamplemousse Grille owner and executive chef Jeffrey Strauss.
“Being on your feet 12-15 hours a day…it finally caught up with me,” Strauss said as he walked the same kitchen floor he’s walked for the past 21 years.
This past June, Strauss finally relented to the bone-on-bone pain in his leg and had hip replacement surgery at Palomar Medical Center Poway under the expert care of Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Brad Cohen.
“I’m probably the biggest chicken you will ever meet so I wasn’t going to rush to go under the knife,” Strauss said.
An athlete in his younger days, Strauss says he had learned to live with the pain for many years even as it got progressively worse, paining him to even lie down.
“The pain definitely limited the amount of time I spent in the kitchen,” Strauss said. “When I found myself standing in one spot, that’s when it hurt the most.”
Strauss said he’d alter the way he stood to alleviate the hip pain, which caused his back and other body parts to have pains. Finally it got to the point where he said he’d had enough and sought out recommendations from his vast network of friends including some of San Diego’s most prestigious residents.
As a celebrity chef, Strauss had his pick of hospitals and physicians but he chose the nationally recognized Orthopedic and Spine Center at Palomar Medical Center Poway and Dr. Cohen.
“I heard patients say he was a great doctor, a great surgeon,” Strauss said about his first meeting with Dr. Cohen. “You could tell he really cared.”
Before leaving the office, they exchanged cell phone numbers and began communicating.
“I like to develop bonds with my patients,” Dr. Cohen said at a recent follow up visit with Strauss. “I think it’s really nice to know where they are coming from and what their goals are and where they want to end up.”
The hip replacement surgery lasted one hour and consisted of placing a metal rod inside the femur and connecting it to a ceramic ball and cup placed inside the hip capsule.
Within two hours after surgery, the medical team at Palomar Medical Center Poway had Strauss up and walking.
“After surgery you are kind of loopy so I was shocked when they came into my room and said, ‘let’s go for a walk’,” Strauss said.
Getting patients up and walking is part of Palomar Health’s pain control program that aims to reduce medications (especially opiates), speed recovery, and reduce pain. Walking starts with a few steps and gradually increases to walking a few stairs by the next day.
“The pain was kept to a minimum,” Strauss said. “On a scale of one to 10 it was never more than a four, maybe a five.”
Strauss’s wife Mayo said she didn’t think he would handle the pain very well but “he handled it beautifully. With Dr. Cohen’s explanation of the process, it really helped out.”
He was out of the hospital the next day and back to work in less than three weeks.
Within five months Strauss was catering one of the largest horse races in the world, the Breeder’s Cup, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, across the street from Pamplemousse.
“I was walking between 22 and 25 flights of stairs a day, between six and seven miles five months after surgery and I was fine, no pain,” Strauss said.
Dr. Cohen was there at the racetrack to check on his patient.
“It’s just an amazing thing and a real privilege in life to help people and get them back to do the things they want to do,” Cohen said.
Reflecting, Strauss says he wishes he would have had the surgery much earlier. Now Mayo is encouraging him to get the other hip replaced.