When your knees stop working as they should, your life is impacted. This was the case for Nancy Lewis, an active retiree who found herself being forced to quit doing many of the things she loves because her knees weren’t cooperating. Over the course of the past year, Nancy underwent robotic knee replacement surgery for both legs and has some advice for people looking for solutions for chronic knee pain and dysfunction.
- MOSH: Please tell us about yourself.
Nancy Lewis: I retired in 2015. I like staying active and being outdoors. I enjoy biking, gardening, and spending time with my three cats.
- M: How has chronic knee pain affected your life?
NL: I used to be able to easily walk four-to-five miles a day. The distance gradually decreased to a mile or less. Eventually, I had to quit. My knee pain got so bad that I had to stop gardening and I couldn’t do work around the house. I couldn’t ride my bike. I even struggled during a visit to the zoo.
- M: How long did you experience knee pain before visiting your doctor?
NL: I have experienced knee pain for many years prior to surgery. It progressively got worse. My knees would give-out going down steps. I had chronic clicking, pain, and swelling for many years. During a yearly physical with my general practitioner, I told her about my knee pain and she recommended Dr. Jesse Bauwens. I saw him in July 2019. He diagnosed me with Stage 4 Osteoarthritis in both knees. Dr. Bawens gave me cortisone injections in both knees. We also discussed the possibility of robotic-assisted knee replacement surgery. He explained why I was a good candidate for the procedure and how to know when I was ready for it.
- M: What did you know about robotic-assisted surgery before your procedure?
NL: I knew nothing about robotic-assisted knee replacement before speaking with Dr. Bauwens. I did my own research and read a brochure he provided me with. I learned robotic-assisted surgery was more precise than conventional knee replacement. I was also persuaded knowing that recovery would be easier.
- M: What was the timing of your procedures?
NL: I only benefitted from my cortisone shots for only six weeks. I knew I was ready for surgery on both knees. I talked to Dr. Bawens and expressed my desire to replace my right knee first because it was hurting more at the time. Surgery was scheduled for October, about three months after my initial visit. The team at MOSH helped me make appointments for a CT scan and pre-operative tests. I also attended a MOSH surgery class, where I learned what to expect during my stay. This was happening fast. I never had major surgery so I didn’t know what to expect. I appreciated all the preparation and support.
- M: Tell us about your experience through surgery and recovery.
NL: I was anxious before surgery but once I woke up in the O.R. and realized my new knee would heal and be better than before, I relaxed. I worked hard through physical therapy to get that knee back in shape. I was walking within one day of surgery. And I could manage a few steps shortly after going home. I only stayed one night at MOSH. I also had in-home therapy for two weeks following my operation. Starting three weeks after my surgery, I drove myself to Athletico for six weeks of physical therapy. I used a walker to get around for two weeks and then a cane for another two weeks. Physical therapy at Athletico was the best experience I could have asked for. I had to learn to walk again since I was walking bowlegged for so long trying to keep the pain at bay. I believe my positive attitude and determination to get back to normal immensely sped up my recovery.Just as I was entering full recovery, my left knee began deteriorating since it was working harder to compensate for the right knee. It was time to schedule my left knee replacement. Three months after the first replacement, I was back at MOSH to replace my other knee. I knew what I was in for and what to expect. My anxiety wasn’t as bad. Everything went well, the same as it did for my left knee. Once again, I stayed one night at MOSH. I was home the next day. Therapy started four days later at Athletico. I relied on a walker for one week and used a cane for another week. After that, I walked on my own. Physical therapy and ice packs were my friends. I always felt so good walking out of my twice-weekly therapy sessions.
- M: How are you feeling now?
NL: I’m feeling great. It’s been one year since my first knee surgery. I forget sometimes that I had surgery. I am able to go up and down steps without using a handrail if I want, and I can walk long distances without pain again. I love that I get up out of bed without hobbling to get coffee. My new knees work great. I can enjoy long bike rides like I used to. The best part is that I don’t walk funny anymore.
- M: What would you tell other people considering robotic-assisted knee surgery?
NL: Do it! The precision of bone replacement is so accurate recovery is faster. It was an easy decision for me and I’m so grateful I did it.
- M: How would you rate your experience with robotic-assisted surgery?
NL: I rate both my robotic-assisted knee replacement surgeries with a 10. The MOSH experience was fantastic as well. And Dr. Bauwens’ skills that gave me new knees? Priceless.