Deb McLoughlin - Shepherd, MI
"Every day I get stronger and stronger. I can walk now and do what I want. And I'm always smiling because I'm not in pain anymore."
Back On Her Feet After a Double Knee Replacement
For years, Deb McLoughlin led a very active life despite dealing with chronic knee pain. She and her husband, Dave, raised four children and she taught physical education at two elementary schools. "I love to ski and even though it hurt, I'd go anyway," she said. She never considered leaving the job she loved. "I tell people I have 800 grandchildren, but they call me Coach," she laughed.
Initially, McLoughlin used non-invasive treatments to help her knee pain. "I tried shots, various medications, therapy," she said. "But at the end of the day, if I sat down, I often struggled to stand up again. My knees felt like rusted hinges being forced open." She knew that knee replacement surgery was the only way to truly eliminate the pain and regain her mobility.
In December 2014, McLoughlin knew that she had reached a critical point. Normal activities were now painful, challenging and sometimes impossible. "I'm a gym teacher and I couldn't climb stairs," she said. "At the end of staff meetings, I would wait for everyone to leave so I could take time to stand up. I can't describe how painful it was and nothing was helping. I had to make a decision and take the next step."
McLoughlin's decision surprised her doctor, Orthopedic Surgeon James Ware, D.O. "I told him, 'If I'm doing one knee, I'm doing both,'" she said. "He asked me to really think about it and be very sure, but I knew it was what I wanted."
Dr. Ware and his staff did an excellent job preparing her for the surgery and post-op. "They not only shared a lot of information, they gave me time to process and digest it all," she said. "And they were always willing to take my questions."
In March 2015, Dr. Ware performed a bilateral total knee replacement at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot. The day after her surgery – with two new knees – McLoughlin walked 25 feet with the help of a walker.
"The staff followed me with a recliner so that if I needed to, I could just sit down," she said. Physical therapy sessions began in her hospital room, and McLoughlin then completed two additional weeks of inpatient physical therapy after being discharged from the Medical Center.
She had been told of the hard work that follows joint replacement and she was not disappointed. "It was tough. I won't sugarcoat it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life," she said.
At her first post-op visit with Dr. Ware, he told McLoughlin she had made the right call to replace both knees. She was healing well but a lot of work remained, including physical therapy three times a week for several weeks. "It was a lot, but it was necessary to get those knees moving and bending," she said.
McLoughlin said choosing the right surgeon made all the different for her. "I cannot say enough about Dr. Ware. He is compassionate, professional and has a wonderful sense of humor. Above all, he listens to me," she said. "His staff is equally amazing and always willing to help. I recommend them all the time."
McLoughlin has no doubt that she made the right decision to have both knees replaced. "I have absolutely no regrets," she said. "Every day I get stronger and stronger. I can walk now and do what I want. And I'm always smiling because I'm not in pain anymore."
Those who would like more information on Dr. Ware or MidMichigan Health’s orthopedic services may visit www.midmichigan.org/bonesandjoints.