After suffering from knee pain for years, three longtime friends undergo total joint replacement surgery and get back to living it up in the Lowcountry.
Troy Shaver traces his knee troubles back 50 years to when he broke his kneecap in a mountain-climbing accident. Running hundreds of races over the next two decades only made matters worse. Jimmy Taylor blames his bad knees on the pounding he inflicted on his joints while running high hurdles in high school and college. For Malcolm Goodridge, it was his days playing high school football and jumping out of airplanes with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
By the time the three men hit their 60s and 70s, their knees were shot. Rather than give up their active lives, all three decided to have total knee replacement surgery. That all three men were active was a key predictor in the success of their surgery. “We used to tell people to wait until they can’t stand it anymore,” says Kevin Jones, MD, of Beaufort Memorial Orthopaedic Specialists. “Now we know that a patient’s preoperative range of motion predicts their postoperative range of motion. We don’t want them coming into the OR with a stiff joint.”
Jimmy Leads the Way
Jimmy, 70, was the first to have knee surgery with Dr. Jones, an expert in minimally invasive joint replacement. Dr. Jones, a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, performed a partial knee replacement on Jimmy’s right knee in 2009. Three years later, Taylor was back, now looking for relief for his left knee. “It got to the point where it hurt just standing around,” the St. Helena Island resident says. “The pain was killing me.”
An avid outdoorsman who enjoys boating, fishing and hunting, Jimmy was physically fit and prepared for the rehab that would come after his surgery. “I was very conscientious about doing what the doctor told me to do,” he says. That included elevating his leg. “Controlling edema after surgery makes a big difference in the outcome,” Dr. Jones says. “The swelling can be minimized by keeping your leg elevated above your heart level.” A banker at the time, Jimmy felt uncomfortable putting his foot on his desk, so his wife, Lea, made him a long beanbag pillow he could use in the office to prop up his leg. He later loaned the pillow to Malcolm when he had his first knee replacement surgery in 2013.
Malcolm’s Training Pays Off
After years of tennis and golf, Malcolm’s knees were finally giving out. He felt like he was slowing down. “I was 77 at the time and Dr. Jones told me to get it done before I was too old,” recalls Malcolm, now 80. “Even though I was in pretty good shape, I started exercising even more to prepare for the surgery.” He worked just as hard during his post-op rehab — work that paid off.
After surgical replacement of his right knee, Malcolm was able to regain a range of motion from 0 to 135 degrees. “Only 5 percent of people do better,” Malcolm says proudly. “I attribute it to the exercise I did before and after the surgery.” A year and a half later, the Hilton Island resident went back to Dr. Jones for surgery to replace his left knee. “I’m glad I did it,” he says. “It allowed me to get back my life. I’m playing golf and tennis again and I feel great.” He continues to exercise at Beaufort Memorial LifeFit Wellness Center five days a week with a personal trainer. “She keeps me from cheating,” he quips.
Troy Gets Back in Action
Troy began having serious pain in his right knee three years ago, forcing him to give up the running, cycling and horseback riding he loved. A sports medicine practitioner told him it was only a matter of time before he would need to have his knee replaced. The time came last summer. “My knee would swell up, and it was painful even walking,” the 70-year-old registered investment adviser says. “When I complained about it to Jimmy and Malcolm, they told me I needed to meet Dr. Jones.”
Just as Jimmy and Malcolm had done, Troy followed Dr. Jones’ orders, was consistent with his rehab exercises and used the recovery pillow passed from his friend Jimmy. “Six months after the surgery, I had all my mobility back,” he says. “You don’t realize how good it is to be able to walk up a flight of stairs.” Today, Troy cycles, walks several miles a day, keeps bees and goes fly-fishing every chance he gets.
Photo credit: Paul Nurnberg Photography