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Patient Stories

A New Vocabulary

I’m a retired English teacher who’s had two knee replacements within four months. No longer is my life filled with run-on sentences, subject-verb agreement, and literary analysis; now my vocabulary is sprinkled with PCT, TKR, PT/IRN, quads, ROM, flexion, IT band, hamstrings, squats, and what number to assign to my pain. The only thing I knew before the surgeries was that I had confidence in my surgeon, orthopedist Dr. Robert Groya, whom I chose based on the referral office from my primary care office, La Grange Family Practice. But both knee replacements yielded three surprises: my pleasant stays at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital, the terrific quality of home nursing care and home physical therapy, and the rigorous outpatient physical therapy I’m undergoing at Adventist Paulson Rehabilitation La Grange.

The pre-admission process at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital was efficient and thoughtful. My admittance into the hospital both times was exactly as outlined. My surgical timeline matched what I was told. Every nurse and patient care technician was outgoing and did all she could for my overall health and comfort. My hospitalist knew who I was and what my issues were – I was comforted by his presence and the way he coordinated things between my surgeon and my primary care doctor.

For each knee I was in the hospital for four days. The food was like having room service at a nice hotel; I ordered what I wanted and when I wanted it. And then the nicest people pleasantly delivered my order. I was visited by an occupational therapist who made sure I didn’t have any issues and every day a physical therapist made sure I was ready to face the challenges of my home. Finally, my discharge both times was thorough, complete with pages of directives, important issues to watch for, and phone numbers for resources.

The day after returning home, Sally DeGiacomo, a nurse from Adventist Health Care at Home came over to assess my health and make sure I understood my medications. The same day Nancy Seguin, a physical therapist, came and assessed my ability to move. I was so impressed by Sally and Nancy that when I returned to the hospital for my second knee replacement, I requested both of them.

I had home health care until I regained mobility, which took about five weeks with each knee. Nurse Sally was the one who suspected I had a blood clot (a common complication with joint replacements) after the first knee and immediately contacted my surgeon and primary care doctors. A regimen of blood thinners was prescribed, and my blood levels had to be closely monitored. I even had a blood draw on Christmas Day! Meanwhile, physical therapist Nancy helped me resume normal walking, moving from a walker to a cane and working daily on gaining range of motion in each new knee. Adventist Health Care at Home dismissed me then to outpatient physical therapy at Adventist Paulson Rehabilitation La Grange with the referral from Dr. Groya.

I came to Paulson, La Grange with a fear of the unknown. I was afraid I’d feel like the uncoordinated one in a health gym. But everyone coming to Paulson has some sort of issue that levels the playing field. My physical therapist Chandra Jadhwani has been the best fit – compassionate but tough, traits I’ve noticed in the other therapists as well. During a typical treatment, Chandra spends 30 minutes manipulating, pulling, stretching, warming up my knee, and creating various balance activities. Then I go into my supervised exercises, which include stairs, marching, the Nu-Step machine, various Wii sports, the trampoline, treadmill, and squats. All these exercises are designed to strengthen muscle I lost during the surgeries and – if truth be told – muscles that I let get lazy over the years. My sessions often end with a 20-minute icing, something that I welcome, and electric stimulation of the muscles around the knee.

Physical activities don’t come easy for me. And these sessions have not been pain-free. I am working hard with this second knee to do two rounds of therapy at home on days I don’t see Chandra. But this work is paying off. I gave up my cane almost a full month earlier than I did with the first knee. Chandra keeps me smiling, motivated and focused on the big picture. The atmosphere at Paulson, La Grange is a gentle collegial one with friendliness and good humor among the patients, therapists, receptionists, and therapy assistants. I love the concern they have over my goals. I want to resume daily walking and riding my bike.

I’ve been fortunate with my health. Now that I am 60, I have had two hospitalizations. While I don’t anticipate getting sick or having more surgery, what I do know is this: Should I need additional medical care, I will gladly and willingly return to Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital and its extended services.

Donna Moscinski, of La Grange