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‘Everyone went out of their way to help me and treated me like a person’

Joseph Kropel had spent 27 years of his life on his knees. It’s not that the 49-year-old was prone to extremely long periods of prayer – rather, he made his living as a cement mason.


A veteran of the trade, Kropel has worked on his knees mixing and spreading cement for building foundations, highways, and driveways. He even worked on Trump Tower in Chicago. But as the condition of one of his knee joints deteriorated, Kropel found that he was relying on pain pills to get through the day. Knee pain has kept the Burnham resident from working as a cement mason for the last three years.


Having exhausted other treatment options, Kropel was excited to learn about knee resurfacing, an alternative to total knee replacement, which he had wanted to avoid because he would no longer be able to work and would therefore not receive his full pension. The procedure was performed at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital.


“At Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, I got the best care I ever got in my life; they treated me like gold,” Kropel said. “I was pretty depressed when I got there. One of the nurses told me she would pray for me. A short time after the prayer, I felt like I had a spiritual awakening.”


Kropel singled out some of the nurses who took care of him: Susan George, Jenn Lacanlale, Dolores Quinano, and Dan Meier.


“The staff was unbelievable,” he said. “Everyone went out of their way to help me and treated me like a person, not just a patient who was there to be fixed.”


Knee resurfacing addresses specific lesions, large areas missing in the articular surface. Only the damaged portion of the joint is resurfaced. In contrast, a total knee replacement involves cutting everything out and putting in a very large piece of polyethylene, which changes the length of the limb and can cause certain cells inside the bone to release enzymes that can cause the bone to loosen. Polyethylene is plastic, whereas the inlay prosthesis used in resurfacing is made of cobalt chrome alloy, a metal.


Successful knee resurfacing can provide relief from pain and swelling, restore a smooth, continuous, articulating load-bearing surface within the joint, and allow the patient to return to normal activity.


Kropel faces months of physical therapy.


“I feel like a new man,” Kropel said.