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Getting Back to Life After Double Knee Replacement

In 2007, Jim Cahall suffered an ACL tear in his right knee followed by a meniscus tear in his left knee in July 2010. A series of treatments offered him only short-term relief and it was eventually discovered that arthritis had settled in both knees. He increasingly found even the simplest activities difficult and consulted a physician about having knee replacement surgery.

“I told him that if I was going to go through the surgery, I wanted to have both knees replaced at the same time,” explained Jim. “I didn’t see the point in just getting one done because the other knee would still be bad, leaving me unable to participate in the activities I wanted to do. My surgeon was not at all in favor of doing both knees at once but we agreed that if I could improve my overall strength and endurance, he might reconsider.”

Jim recognized that he would need to improve not only his lower body strength but also his upper body to help him maneuver a walker and cane while his knees healed. He went to the gym and started an exercise routine. After several months the hard work paid off.  He returned to the surgeon who agreed to perform the bilateral knee replacement. His surgeon explained that after the surgery, he would need to be admitted to an inpatient physical rehabilitation facility to help him recover. His recommendation was Marianjoy.

Jim’s surgery took place on February 16, 2011 and several days later, he was admitted to Marianjoy. “It was obvious to me immediately that Marianjoy was a very different place,” notes Jim. “The staff was friendly and accommodating. When my wife wanted to stay with me the first night, one of the nurses stepped right in and helped her to set up the futon in my room. They were always pleasant, greeting not only me with a smile or a ‘good morning’ but also each other. Though they were there to meet my medical needs, it became obvious that they were truly interested in me as a person. They took the time to get to know me and that made me feel comfortable and valued—not only as a patient but as a person.”

Jim found it helpful that every morning his therapy schedule was posted on his door. As he ate breakfast, he would prepare himself for the day’s challenges and at the end of the day, felt a sense of accomplishment for having made it through his therapy sessions. His rehabilitation program included both physical and occupational therapy. “There was a purpose behind everything my therapists asked me to do. For example, my occupational therapist had me standing at a table putting pegs in a board. It became evident it wasn’t about the task at all but about getting me to stand up for as long as I could and keep my balance—both very important factors of my recovery. My physical therapist not only helped me to walk but taught me techniques on how to climb stairs which was vital to learn before I returned home. The goal of therapy is to get you better. At Marianjoy, the philosophy of therapy is to get you better and functional so you can return to your daily life.”

After nine days, Jim was ready to be discharged. “The therapists prepared me to go home and I felt very confident and capable of doing so. I could clearly see the value in everything they taught me.”

Though the healing process can take up to six months, Jim is driving again, recently returned to work and has no limitations in his activities. He continues to improve and still practices the exercises he learned in therapy.

“My whole experience at Marianjoy was very positive,” confirms Jim. “The staff didn’t just treat my medical needs; they focused on me as a person and treated me with compassion. They explained the process every step of the way and encouraged my wife and family to be involved. And the campus is so beautiful and peaceful, unlike any other hospital I’ve been to.

“For me, my time at Marianjoy was less about a hospital stay and more about a journey.”