Tom Pellenwessel had a nagging pain in his hip that he thought would go away, so he pushed it to the back of his mind. He went on living with it for nearly a year, but as more time passed his movement became extremely limited. Activities that were normally a breeze caused him pain.
After a three week walking tour of Europe, that nagging pain took a turn for the worse - the pain became unbearable - radiating from his hip all the way to his toes.
At 60-years-old, Tom was a weekend warrior, world traveler, square dancer and nurse supervisor at Long Beach Memorial, and he wouldn’t let the crippling pain keep him on the sidelines. Tom was determined to remain active, so he went to speak with his primary care physician to discuss his options.
The pain he was experiencing was due to osteoarthritis - a common form of arthritis that causes bones to rub against each other due to the breakdown of cartilage that cushions the ends of bones. Tom was referred to the MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center at Long Beach Memorial.
He met with Douglas Garland, MD, orthopedic surgeon, medical director, Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Memorial and together they began planning a total hip replacement – surgery that would replace his damaged hip with an artificial implant. Dr. Garland quickly identified Tom as an excellent candidate for outpatient joint replacement surgery, meaning he would be able to go home the very same day of surgery.
Before surgery, Tom attended a pre-operative education class where he learned about medications, mobility with assistive devices, car transfers, stair training pain management and physical therapy exercises to remain safe and active at home for faster recovery time.
“My experience was top-notch,” says Tom. “From the whole pre-operative process including the joint replacement class to the actual day of surgery and through the post-operative care and recovery I could not have asked for a better experience. Everyone I encountered was not just professional but genuinely seemed to care about me as an individual and what I was going through.”
Tom’s surgery began at 7:30 a.m. At 9 a.m. he woke up in the recovery room. By noon he ate some lunch, walked around to test his new hip and with Dr. Garland’s approval Tom was able to be discharged straight home. At 5 p.m., the day of his surgery, Tom walked through his front door and fixed himself dinner. That night was the best sleep he had in a long time.
“A successful outpatient surgery of this magnitude requires a healthy patient,” says Dr. Garland. “One must be mentally prepared by attending our pre-operative education class with nursing and physical therapy and the will to succeed. Tom easily met all the criteria. His recovery was uneventful because he was totally committed and mentally prepared.”
Tom was back at work at Long Beach Memorial four weeks after his surgery with no pain and able to walk through the hospital and go up flights of stairs with no problem.
Tom’s advice to anyone considering joint replacement surgery: “If you think you may need a joint replacement, get it checked out. If you need a joint replacement and you are as lucky as I was, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain. To be able to return to a fully-functioning life is a beautiful thing!”
Tom is back to his active lifestyle and treats himself to square dancing once-a-week.