Walking with a sore knee is difficult, and bearing chronic knee pain day in and day out can be debilitating. Walter Brown was all too familiar with chronic knee pain, and by 2009 he had enough. The pain in his left knee had started nine years earlier. As Walter explains, “the cartilage was shot.” And when he finally underwent surgery in the fall of 2009, it didn’t go well. He suffered infections, blood clots, multiple surgeries and lengthy physical therapy, which still never fully cured his knee pain. It was too much for him, and he didn’t want to struggle through more unsuccessful procedures or therapy.
Taking a different route
But by 2015, Walter was in a different situation. He had moved to a senior living community. He was a widower after his wife, Doris, passed away. And soon after those transitions, he started experiencing new knee pain. This time, it was his right knee, and the pain made it difficult even to walk to the mailbox and back. Rather than stubbornly wobble with his throbbing knee, Walter asked around to see if any of his neighbors had ever dealt with chronic knee pain.
He soon realized that a retirement community was the exact right place to find a reference to a great orthopedic surgeon. And one name kept coming up: Christopher J. Vinton, M.D., at Saint Vincent Hospital. His work had wowed just about everyone Walter knew — even Walter’s daughter who had undergone hip replacement surgery with him. Walter made the call.
At Walter’s initial appointment, however, Dr. Vinton was apprehensive about moving forward with the 81-year-old’s knee replacement. One concern was Walter’s heart attack 25 years ago — another was the congestive heart failure he had been diagnosed with less than a year earlier. But Walter couldn’t give up that easily. “I’ll take a stress test,” he offered.
A nuclear stress test measures the blood flow to the heart while resting and again after physical exertion. A stress test provides images that show weak areas in the heart and low blood flow. “If that test hadn’t come out right, I’d still be limping around here with my bad knee.” Fortunately for Walter, the results came back great, and Dr. Vinton cleared him for surgery.
On Oct. 1, 2015, Walter went in for his procedure and, this time, it went very well. He was surprised to be bending his knee soon after surgery. He progressed through his physical therapy sessions smoothly and moved around much easier. Walter was impressed by how thorough the therapists at Saint Vincent were. “They know what they’re doing,” he says.
Walter has stayed optimistic throughout his recovery and rehabilitation process this spring. Now he’s one of the many people in his community who recommends Saint Vincent to anyone who asks.