Outpatient Total Knee Replacement was the ‘Best Idea Ever’
Three months after outpatient knee replacement surgery, Jackie Penney says the difference in how well she can walk and her pain level is like night and day.
Jackie Penney, 50, has worked in health care for 30 years. Currently, she is the sole phlebotomist on the midnight shift at MidMichigan Medical Center – Clare. “I wear a pedometer and usually log 15,000 steps a day,” she said.
When pain from a knee problem kept getting worse, she knew she needed help but hesitated about surgery. “I could still walk with pain, and I was terrified to have knee replacement because I could not be sure of the outcome,” she said.
Penney thinks the issue with her left knee started when she fell off some scaffolding years ago and broke her ankle. “A few months after going back to work my knee started to hurt,” she said. “I tried over-the-counter braces, injections and even had arthroscopic surgery to clean up the meniscus, but nothing helped.”
She was determined to work through the pain. “Eventually I was taking ibuprofen every four hours and I counted down the hours,” she said. “It was barely a band aid.”
After exhausting all conservative measures, Penney knew it was time to deal with her fear and get her knee repaired. In addition to a job that required a lot of walking and stair climbing, she and her husband breed Irish Wolf Hounds – plus they have 10 dogs as pets.
Penney had consulted with MidMichigan Orthopedic Surgeon John Murphy, D.O., after she broke her ankle, so she asked for his help with her knee.
“I really like that Dr. Murphy is cautious and pays close attention to things,” she said. “At first, he thought I might be okay with a partial replacement. Then he performed an exam and recommended a total.”
He also told her she was a candidate for outpatient surgery. “Day surgery is the best idea ever,” Penney said.
On December 20, Penney had her total knee replacement done at the Great Lakes Bay Surgery & Endoscopy Center in Midland. “I was there by 6 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. surgery,” she said. “I was walking around by 1:30 that afternoon and was home by 2:30 p.m. It was awesome!”
Her recovery went as well as the surgery. “The first day I stayed on the couch, slept and iced my knee because I did have some swelling,” she said.
“Just being at home in familiar surroundings was wonderful,” Penney said. “You can keep your own routine and eat what you want, when you want.”
She started physical therapy a few days after surgery. She was worked with her therapist, Sara Strauss, before. “Sara knows my job and knew what I was going back to,” Penney said. “She designed a program just to suit me.” After several weeks of sessions with Strauss, as well as homework, Penney was fully functioning.
Three months later, Penney said the difference is like night and day. “People actually notice how well I walk,” she said. “I don’t limp, I can move and there is no pain – not even when I’m using stairs.”
She feels stiffness some mornings and feels tired at the end of a 10-hour shift. She also arranges her work schedule so she can rest when she needs to do so. “Ligaments and tendons will take longer to heal and I need to be smart about it,” she said.
Penney is happy she faced her fears and is thankful for the surgery that gave her back her mobility. “Dr. Murphy and his team are just awesome,” she said. “People recommended him to me and now I can recommend him to others.”
Penney also encourages people to consider outpatient surgery if it is an option. “Everyone at the surgery center knew how nervous I was, and they were just great,” she said. “Day surgery is wonderful!”
Those who would like more information on Dr. Murphy or MidMichigan Health’s orthopedic services may visit www.midmichigan.org/bonesandjoints.