Knee replacement gives woman back her life
Well qualified: Dr. Daniel Weber is a board certified orthopedic surgeon on the staff at Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute. | Michael Roberts
Most clubs are built around a shared interest. There are clubs for photography, for birding, for bunco and for many other hobbies and passions. These clubs dot our south and southwest suburbs, pulling like-minded folks into small, tight-knit groups of friendship and camaraderie that grow slowly over time.
There is one club in our area, however, that adds scores of new members each month, with members residing in a huge swath of Chicagoland that includes almost 70 communities.
The Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute (AOI) Alumni Club was launched officially in January of 2011 and already boasts almost 1,700 members, growing by nearly 500 members each year.
“Every patient who receives a joint replacement — a knee or hip, a shoulder or an ankle — or has spine surgery and stays in our dedicated AOI unit becomes a member of the Alumni Club when they are discharged,” said Pat Padilla, R.N., manager at Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute. Patients leaving the unit receive a welcome letter, T-shirt and an ID card, which identifies them as an artificial joint recipient and Alumni Club member. The card also assists the patient through metal detectors and screening systems.
“Joint replacement is a life-changing event,” said Padilla, “and putting a support system in place for our patients was crucial for the team at Ingalls. The Alumni Club was the perfect solution.”
A confident decision
Mary Lu Larsen of Hazel Crest agrees. Before her surgery in 2011, Larsen’s mobility was extremely limited and the pain was intense and almost constant.
“It was painful to even stand up,” Larsen said. “There was almost no cartilage in my knee. It was nearly bone-on-bone.”
Larsen was referred to Dr. Daniel Weber by her primary care physician and began asking friends and associates if they knew of him. Larsen realized Dr. Weber was both well-known and well-liked. The information she received was only positive.
“The more I asked about him, the more people validated my decision and told me what a wonderful experience they had, or a family member or friend had, with Dr. Weber. I went into this with a great deal of confidence.”
Larsen also attended a pre-surgery seminar held by Ingalls Hospital and that experience was overwhelmingly positive.
“Former patients spoke and we were given valuable information about what to expect and how to manage after surgery, devices that could help us through recovery, even how to put on our socks,” Larsen recalled.
She felt positive vibes from the group experience, and hearing the experiences and advice of Alumni Club Ambassadors was helpful in creating her expectations for the future.
The Ingalls experience and the Ingalls staff thoroughly pleased Larsen as well.
“The therapy was skillfully done and helped me recover,” she said. “Everything was very well-handled. Those few days at Ingalls were crucial.”
Quality of life improved
The AOI mission of “Move Again. Live Again.” has proven true for Larsen.
“I still have things on my bucket list,” she chuckled. “After surgery, I was able to accomplish one of them.”
She recently toured the Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks, making the trip there and back with a friend via train.
“Without my new knee, that would not have happened,” Larsen said.
A devoted Lyric Opera subscriber for six years, Larsen also found her enjoyment of those events much improved.
“I never stopped going, but it was such a chore,” she explained. “My seat is on the mezzanine level, up the equivalent of two flights of stairs. After my surgery, as I walked to my seat, it occurred to me that it was no longer a wrenching experience. I certainly can move again and live again.”
The Alumni Club isn’t an honorary membership; the Club is full of activities and events to celebrate members’ newly active and pain-free lifestyle. Last summer, the Club sponsored the Starry Nights concert series with the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District, was a part of the 28th Annual Homewood Rotary/Ingalls Health Fair and hosted a holiday party.
Padilla enjoyed watching the Starry Night audience watch the Ingalls AOI Alumni Club members dancing to the music, fully enjoying their mobility.
“You could see that many people couldn’t believe these Club members had joint replacement surgery,” she said. “It was a wonderful opportunity to introduce people who might be in pain themselves to Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute and have them observe first hand how the surgery does indeed give patients the ability to ‘move again and live again’.” Padilla affirmed, “It is truly life changing.”
This year, the Club is planning a May bowling event in both Homewood and Tinley Park, will sponsor summer concerts in Homewood and Tinley Park and a community movie in South Holland, and host a dinner dance at the Matteson Community Center. Sing-along movie events are already being discussed for 2013.
Ingalls Hospital sponsors the mall walker programs throughout the area; River Oaks Center in Calumet City, Lincoln Mall in Matteson and Orland Square in Orland Park. These programs include monthly educational seminars that discuss diet, heart health and many other subjects dedicated to helping the community improve and preserve their health.
As the Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute continues to raise the bar for excellence in joint replacement and spine surgery, the Club will continue to grow.
“Going through the same experience establishes a bond among people,” said Larsen. “While I can bowl a good golf score,” she laughed, “I will enjoy the society of it. These people understand what I’ve been through. I am so much better now.”
For more information on Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute, please call (708) 915-PAIN (7246) or visit Ingalls.org/AOI.
Provided by Ingalls Advanced Orthopedic Institute