BISCOE – If quality of life is reason enough to have your knees replaced, Biscoe resident Benny Dunn is a textbook example of one very satisfied patient.
Dunn now climbs stairs, accompanies his wife on shopping trips and, best of all, sleeps in his own bed – each accomplished with difficulty if at all before surgery. He’s also “grown” about 2 inches – back to 5-10 or better from his pre-surgical 5-8 – because the surgery corrected his previously very bowed legs.
“I feel two thousand percent better,” he says.
Chalk up Dunn’s new status to his now pain-free knees. Before surgery, the pain made a good night’s rest all but impossible. He couldn’t lie still in bed, so he paced or napped on the sofa or in a chair.
“I had terrible knee pain when I would lie down,” he says. “It was really bad.”
Dunn’s life is very different now, and he couldn’t be happier. But he had resisted the idea of surgery for several years. His physician, orthopaedic surgeon David Casey, M.D., of FirstHealth Orthopaedics, told him he would have to decide for himself when the time was right.
The time came after he realized that he and his wife had virtually no quality of life and that she had begun to assist him with even the simplest of personal tasks – like tying his shoes.
“I realized I couldn’t put my wife through this,” he says.
Dunn called Dr. Casey the next morning, had surgery on Sept. 5, 2015, and spent three days in FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. The next round of his recovery began there.
“They had me walking right after surgery,” he says.
Another turning point occurred during the third visit from his home health physical therapist. Since he couldn’t navigate the stairs in his tri-level home, Dunn had camped out in his basement. During that visit, however, the therapist announced that his assignment for the day would be to walk up the first flight of stairs.
He did, rested for a while and walked back down. He waited until the therapist left to start “bawling” and then announce to wife Sherry that he was going back upstairs.
That night, he slept in his bed for the first time in four years.
“It was just like sunshine,” he says. “It was absolutely a very big moment for us.”
According to Dr. Casey, a number of factors can contribute to an individual’s risk for the kind of debilitating, bone-on-bone knee pain that Dunn experienced.
“The source is multi-factorial,” he says. “Traumatic events can play a role. So can genetics and co-morbidities.”
A family history of arthritis, the tire-changing job that sometimes had him crawling around on a concrete floor and a personal medical history of gout unquestionably put Dunn at high risk.
Michael Shutt, P.T., the physical therapist who supervised Dunn’s outpatient physical therapy at FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital, attributes his post-op success to a successful surgery and his stubborn commitment to “following the rules” set by Dr. Casey and his physical therapy team.
“He did everything right,” Shutt says. “He did everything he needed to do.”
Dunn also gives a lot of credit to his wife, who took two weeks off from her job in a local attorney’s office to be with him at home after he was released from the hospital.
Although it’s been less than a year since his joint replacement surgery, Dunn is quickly seeing his life return to normal. From February to May, he helped coach the fast-pitch softball team at East Montgomery High School and he has started to swing at an occasional golf ball.
He’s also exchanged tire-changing for overseeing a couple of family rental properties as a way to stay busy.
His family, friends and neighbors can’t believe the difference.
“My surgery changed my life,” Dunn says. “It’s changed my family’s life.”
Benny Dunn (second from left) credits an orthopaedic team that included (from left) physical therapy assistant Andy Gillis, orthopaedic surgeon David Casey, M.D., and physical therapist Mike Shutt for his successful double knee replacement surgery.
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