life after a
- Swimming to Stay in Shape
- Positive Outlook Helps Rehab
Rolling Along After a Total Knee Replacement
After a total knee arthroplasty at Anderson Clinic in January 1997, Sonia, age 68, returned to her life-long passion with competitive skating. Sonia started participating in roller skating competitions at age 17 and then switched to the ice arena when living in Denmark. Unfortunately, 20 years of leaping and twirling on the ice contributed to osteoarthritis of the knee, and painful knees put her on the bench.
Sonia's recent knee replacement got her off that bench and back on rollers. She skates weekly with other "seniors" and is preparing for competition in the Veteran's Solo Dance Divisions. No longer ready for flying jumps or the landings that go with them, Sonia now competes at the bronze level, which involves dancing forward steps of the fox trot, tango, boogie, cha-cha, and waltz. What fun!
Avid Swimmer Exericises her New Knees Regularly
One of the reasons Virginia Smith has such a lovely smile is that she has been a swimmer for 13 years and does water aerobics with her husband three times a week. She says there isn't a better exercise, and the glow that emanates from her seems proof. Another reason for Virginia's smile are her two pain-free knees. Virginia has had two total knee replacements, the first in 1993 and the second in 1998. Her regular swimming has, no doubt, helped her regain her leg strength. Virginia says, "As soon as I healed from my surgeries, I was back in the water!" Virginia greeted her surgeon Dr. Jerry Engh (photo) at the Inova Mt. Vernon Hospital Joint Replacement Unit annual patient reunion this September 2000.
"So much in recovery involves state of mind and being positive."
"I hate this one. It looks so easy and it's not!... I remind myself of the alternative... Rehabilitation hurts, but I know the pain will be gone."
On Marilyn's book list:
of Believing, Claude
of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient,
Medicine, and Miracles,
weeks after her total knee replacement, Marilyn Perno complains and fusses
at her physical therapist during her daily exercise routine at the rehabilitation
center. She says P.T. stands for physical torturer, not physical
therapist, but she only says this to the therapist's face, with a big smile.
"You want me to WHAT?" she asks with mock incredulity when the physical therapist at the rehabilitation center shows her a new exercise. "Of course," she adds as an aside, "I've said that everyday since I started therapy."
Despite the constant banter, therapist Bessie Tsiamis says, "Marilyn should be our poster-child for total knee replacements. She's gung-ho about her exercises and very positive. When people are negative, we have to work through the negativity and win their trust before we can make progress."
Marilyn's positive attitude and sense of humor have been her fuel through numerous health challenges -- most recently two total knee replacements done a year apart. Although positive by nature, she found the curative value of positive thinking when she faced surgery at age 25, two previous hip replacements, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"I also read books, like the Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol," said Marilyn. Two other favorite authors were Norman Cousins, who related how humor contributed to his recovery from pain and illness, and Bernie Siegel, MD, who continues to write about his experiences working with exceptional cancer survivors.
Although Marilyn focuses on the positive, she doesn't ignore feelings of sadness or pain. "We all have bad days. Then it's time to go in a closet and suck your thumb and cry. But you can only do it for five minutes. Then you have to come out and let go of it," she says. "And you can't go in the closet on a daily basis -- that's not allowed!"
This attitude influenced Marilyn's decision to go to a rehabilitation center for her knee therapy. "A friend who is having a knee replacement asked me if she should do the exercises at home or at a center. I think it's important to get up, get dressed, put on your face, and get out, even if you can't drive. You can't lay around feeling sorry for yourself. I also go to the center so the therapist can nag me to do what I'm supposed to do."
Although Marilyn acknowledges that therapy can be painful, she reminds herself of "the alternative. If I hadn't had knee surgery, I would hurt all the time. Rehabilitation hurts, but I know the pain will be gone."
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