Mark, Knee Replacement Patient

Have the surgery sooner rather than later. I wish I had done it 5 years earlier.”

A few years ago, I took my 83-year-old daddy, who is a Korean War veteran, to Washington to see his memorial.

I needed a cane to get around. My daddy didn’t. I needed to sit down long before he did.

In fact, whenever we went to a new place, the first thing I looked for was a place to sit down and rest. I told myself this is no way to live.

I’m going to do something about it.

In my younger years, I was very active, an athlete. I’m an ol’ country boy so I love crawling these mountains and valleys. I’ve been on most of the trails here in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina. I’ve backpacked and hiked many places.

My knee issues totally ended this.

I couldn’t stand more than 15 minutes without an excessive amount of pain.
I couldn’t walk 40 feet without having to stop.
The pain level had become unbearable.

When I saw the doctor he said my knees were bone-on-bone. There was no cartilage left.

I had my first knee surgery in 2013. I did so well I convinced my wife, who had been in a car accident as a teenager, to have her knee joint replaced. When she healed, I had my second surgery in April 2014.

I had both my surgeries at Johnson City Medical Center and my experience there was outstanding. I was impressed by the compassion, the level of understanding and how everything was explained in detail.

The surgery went smoothly, and I didn’t have any questions or concerns.

They got me up the first night, which is great because they want you moving. In the Joint Replacement Center on the sixth floor of the hospital, there is a special therapy center to help patients get started on the right path for healing.

After my surgery, the staff began to move the joint and take me to therapy where there were stairs and mats for stretching. It helped me know I would be safe when I went home.

Arrangements were made for my outpatient therapy before I even went home. They made sure my pain level was manageable and that I had the meds I needed to keep it that way at home.

I was so impressed by my experience that I now volunteer as an ambassador for the Joint Replacement Center.

While I was there, an ambassador, a former patient, stepped into my room to encourage me, tell me that things were going to be OK, and answered any questions I had. This meant a lot to me, and I decided I needed to pay it back by paying it forward to other patients.

If I had not had knee surgery, I would be limping, using a cane, and could not stand here for more than five minutes without my knees throbbing.

Now I’m back to walking on the Tweetsie Trail, which has such historical significance to our area. As a history teacher and native of Carter County, that means a lot to me.

I tell other patients who are thinking about knee replacement surgery to go on and talk to their doctor, go to the pre-op class and learn what to expect. It’s not going to be ice cream and soda pop the first few days, but the wonderful news is that it is a temporary pain, versus the pain they are experiencing now, which is permanent and will only get worse.

Have the surgery sooner rather than later. I wish I had done it five years earlier.

Is knee replacement for you?

If you think surgery might help you get moving again – like it did for Mark – learn more about total knee replacement here.