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Joint Replacement Surgery Helps Patients Reclaim the Little Things in Life

Cynthia and Roger both experienced some initial anxiety about undergoing surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re both grateful they moved forward.

The little things in life–things that are often taken for granted–can make a world of difference in how we feel and function each day. For retired art teacher, Cynthia Cook, of Mount Laurel, who hasn’t been able to lay on her side in years, it’s being able to sleep soundly again. For others, like Cinnaminson insurance agent Roger Butler, it’s about feeling stable when he walks.

Cynthia and Roger, both age 60, had suffered from chronic arthritis pain for years, tolerating the pain the best they could. Rounds of cortisone shots, chiropractic care, and acupuncture treatments, provided relief, but only temporarily. Eventually, they both turned to Rothman Orthopaedics to undergo joint replacement surgery at Jefferson Health in New Jersey.

Roger, who had severe degeneration in both hips and needed both replaced, reached his breaking point during a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach. “I relied on aspirin to sleep, to drive, and just to enjoy myself,” he remembers. “At that point, I knew I needed to fix it for good.”

For Cynthia, coming to the realization that a shoulder replacement was imperative, was slightly harder to accept. Even though she had successful knee replacement surgery at Rothman five years prior, she was hesitant.

I wanted to believe there was something else that didn’t involve surgery, but in hindsight, I was just in denial. –Cynthia

“I was seeing a different doctor at the time, so I went back to Rothman for a second opinion and was assured that replacement was my best option,” Cynthia says.

After having his right hip replaced in February by Dr. Michael Harrer, Roger had to postpone his left hip replacement until May due to COVID-19 restrictions on elective procedures. He knew the process well and wasn’t particularly worried, but what he didn’t realize was how it would feel to not have family or friends be by his side for moral support.

“I was at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital for about two days and I missed not seeing my loved ones, but I had great care and attention from nurses Jessica Rice and Rebecca Driscoll,” he says. “They made the whole experience much easier.”

Cynthia also had a positive experience. Her surgery with Dr. Luke Austin had been pushed back because of the pandemic, but she was put at ease when he called her to answer questions and assure her everything would go as planned. She also recalls a sense of safety from the minute she was admitted to the hospital, with safety precautions more meticulous than ever.

Cynthia was shocked to experience next-to-no pain and discomfort after surgery. She was quickly able to stop taking over-the-counter pain medicine.

Only months prior, she had struggled persistent “clicking” and “popping” in her shoulder. When she was still working as an art teacher for Pennsauken Public Schools, this made it incredibly challenging to use her paper cutter, hang artwork, and simply hand things to her students.

Cynthia gardening at her home

While Cynthia wishes she could have had this kind of relief years ago, she’s grateful for what it allows her to do now. Not only are her physical therapy exercises getting easier each day, but she’s so “pain-free” that she has to guard against “overdoing it” in her home and garden.

Roger has also progressed at a quick pace, even though his left hip replacement resulted in some initial discomfort. He is following “doctor’s orders” and practicing walking and taking stairs as much as he can.

“I’m walking more seamlessly than I have in a long time,” says Butler. “Every second of healing has been worth it. I would never want to return to the pain I had, nor would I wish it on anyone.”

His biggest victory to date is being able to get back out on the golf course – the one place he can truly unwind. Not only can Butler walk around better, but his swing has improved because he can swivel with his hips again.

Roger Butler practicing his golf swing at his home

Cynthia is eager to drive and swim again and to do any other leisurely activities her retirement brings. She hopes to eventually be blessed with grandchildren that she feels confident she’ll be able to hold with strength and security.

While Cynthia and Roger both experienced some initial anxiety about undergoing surgery during the pandemic, they’re both grateful they moved forward. Both say they felt safe from admission to discharge, but more importantly, they’re both starting to live life – with all its simple pleasures – to the fullest again.

“I’m confident it’s only going to get better from here on out,” said Roger. “That’s a great feeling.”

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COVID-19, Patient Perspectives