Better the Second Time Around: Patient’s Road to Recovery After Joint Replacement

Mhairi Blacklock, Mercy Health joint replacement patient
Mhairi Blacklock, Mercy Health joint replacement patient

Better the Second Time Around: Patient’s Road to Recovery After Joint Replacement

Joint replacement patient Mhairi Blacklock, 76, has had both of her knees replaced at Mercy Health – one was done four years ago, and the other – six weeks ago. The retired physical therapist and Scotland native, could not believe how fast her recovery was this second time around. “The whole thing has been a big success. We have excellent surgeons here in Muskegon at Mercy,” explained Mhairi of her experience with Mercy Health.

Her surgeon, Jeffrey Recknagel, MD, worked with Mhairi on various treatment methods throughout the year such as lubrication injections – but when springtime came around, they realized that surgery was necessary. After meeting with Dr. Recknagel and his team, she went through a preoperative program which she referred to as “Joint Camp.”

Pre-Op Is Key

Joint Camp is a training session where patients view a video and receive information on what to expect before, during and after joint replacement surgery. It is important to designate a friend or family member who will act as a coach while the patient goes through the joint replacement process, beginning with the training session and continuing through recovery once back at home. Luckily, Mhairi’s husband, Peter, felt prepared to care for her after attending the program, and they both attribute Joint Camp, in part, to her speedy recovery. In addition to Joint Camp, Mhairi maintained her healthy lifestyle prior to her operation. “I was active up until the day. Even the day of surgery I walked two miles.”

Day of Surgery

On the day of surgery, Dr. Recknagel and his team greeted Mhairi, explained the timeline for the day, and what she could expect. “They answered all of my questions. Dr Recknagel and all of the nurses were great, just great. I was treated with so much care and respect during every interaction,” said Mhairi.

“Dr. Recknagel thought he was going to go in and do it a certain way, and when he got in and saw it was going to give him a bit of a challenge, he knew he’d have to do things a little differently. But, obviously he had that expertise, skill and experience to take care of me the best way possible. I really attribute my recovery to his expertise.”

Mhairi was most impressed by the way the Mercy Health colleagues attended to the little details on a daily basis for her – whether it was making sure her room and linens were clean and sanitized, or the fact that the staff changed and updated the in-room status board every day, or just going above and beyond in helping her feel more comfortable during her stay, “The little things bad or good,” she said, “are often what you remember.”

After surgery, Mhairi stayed at Mercy Health Mercy Campus for two days. “I enjoyed my time in the hospital. You’re looked after, you’re even brought a menu ahead of the meal allowing you to choose, which is nice.”

Mhairi participated as part of the 3P team to help create and design the new medical center in Muskegon from the patient’s perspective. She and her husband had met many Mercy Health colleagues through their philanthropic efforts,(they had been involved with Mercy Health’s Comprehensive Breast Center being a breast cancer survivor herself). “I’m most excited about the private rooms, big windows, the natural healing light to come in at the new medical center. ”

Physical Therapy – Full-Time Job 

Mhairi was up and moving around as soon as she returned home. Being a former physical therapist, the main component she had to remember was that “rehab is hard work and it is up to the patient to do all the work their physical therapist tells them to do…and looking at their daily exercise program as a full-time job for the first four to six weeks is critical.”

Mhairi jumped right in working with her physical therapist, and made sure to choose one that was certified in manual therapy (spending at least 45 mins “hands on” at every visit). In addition, she was able to rent an ice compression machine through her insurance which treated her swelling. Mhairi also noted that her pain level was never “more than a 4/10,” and only took extra strength acetaminophen on occasion for pain.

Mhairi ends with this bit of advice: “Really, what it comes down to is the expertise of the surgeon, and the dedication to physical therapy afterward.”

For more information on total knee replacement in Muskegon, visit Mercy Health Orthopedic Medicine.

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