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New Knees, Please!

Constant aching. Difficulty walking. And for Dave Lisko of Pelican Rapids, Minn., the problem was doubled.

“Both knees were shot,” says the 71-year-old. “And what was really disgusting was I couldn’t even hunt anymore.”

An overseas construction manager who’s traveled the world, Dave found the help he needed at Sanford Orthopedics in Fargo. In October 2011, an appointment with Dr. Howard Berglund, orthopedic surgeon, put him back on track to the active life he loved.

Two at a time

Dave’s knee problems stemmed from years of wear and tear combined with rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed in 2006. Medication helped initially, but ultimately he needed knee replacement surgery. Dave wanted both done at once.

“Absolutely that’s the way to go,” he says. “I’ve known too many people who get one knee done, get overwhelmed, then never go in for the second. Why not get it out of the way?”

Dave’s surgery was scheduled for Dec. 30. But first he did exactly what’s recommended for all patients undergoing knee or hip replacement surgery at Sanford: He got educated!

Know what to expect

Two weeks before surgery, Dave and his wife, Teresa, attended Sanford’s Joint Replacement Pre-Op Class. Offered every week, the 90-minute course is led by a Sanford Orthopedics team from nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and pharmacy.

“Very worthwhile!” says Dave.

The class gives an overview of what to expect during the hospital stay, but also instructs patients in key steps they can take before surgery including:
  • Daily exercises to strengthen muscles
  • A home-safety check that addresses chairs, rugs, grab-bars and more
  • Arrangements for post-surgery transportation and rehabilitation

Says facilitator Kari Erickson, RN: “Patients are anxious at the beginning of the class, but by the end they’re well informed, confident and calm. It’s wonderful to see!”

The instruction has an impact on patients’ hospitalization and recovery, too.

“Physical therapists in particular have noticed the difference,” says Kari. “Patients who’ve attended the class are more relaxed, know what to expect each day, have a positive attitude and experience speedier recoveries.”

Smooth recovery

The day after Dave’s successful surgery at Sanford South University, he went for his first walk on his new knees. Just as he expected, a team of orthopedics professionals came to his hospital room to help.

Three days post-surgery he left the hospital. Thanks to arrangements he made weeks earlier, a van transported him to Pelican Rapids, where his next rehab team was waiting.

“I knew two knees would be a tougher recovery, so right off the bat I arranged to rehabilitate at a local nursing home,” says Dave. “The day I arrived I had my first therapy session. Just like the hospital, they don’t let you lie around.”

Twice-daily therapy prompted rapid progress. Dave graduated from a walker to a cane to walking on his own. He returned home in mid-January and a week later returned to Sanford Orthopedics for a checkup.

“When Dr. Berglund saw me truck on by, he said I should be the poster child for knee replacements,” says Dave.

The “poster child” offers tips to others pursuing joint replacement:

  • Don’t worry about the pain. “The orthopedics team at Sanford deals with this stuff every day. They know how to manage pain,” he says.
  • Listen to your therapist. “Grunt and groan if you have to, but do what your therapist tells you to do,” he says. “It’s worth it in the end.”
  • Go to the pre-op class. “I wouldn’t consider having joint surgery without it,” says Dave.

Happy hunting!

With two strong knees, Dave is back to his full, active life. He returned from elk hunting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in October 2012, and now looks forward to pheasant and deer hunting in November.

“To walk without pain…” says Dave, shaking his head. “It’s just amazing!”

Posted Date: November 2012