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Serving the Susquehanna Region

Barbara and Theodore's Joint Replacement Story

by UPMC Susquehanna

When Barbara Piwowar and her husband, Theodore, of Williamsport imagined their retirement, they pictured walking the beaches of Florida and playing with their grandson. But as retirement approached, joint pain was stopping both of them from envisioning the perfect retirement.

As a nurse, Barbara was just too busy to take time to worry about her hip pain or take time off work to have surgery. Every day, Barbara would work through the stiffness and pain the arthritis in her hips was causing. Barbara’s husband also had arthritis. He had been living with knee pain and  stiffness for many years. “Getting down on the floor to play with my grandson was becoming difficult, and getting up from the floor—almost mpossible,” says Barbara.

“I am only 63, so I don’t want to be limited by hips that didn’t function very well.” As they began planning their retirement, the first thought was to have the needed surgery so they could enjoy retirement to the fullest.

In January 2018, Theodore had a bilateral knee replacement with Mark Rackish, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, at UPMC Susquehanna. Everything went so well for Theodore that Barbara was anxious to finally take care of her hip pain. She scheduled surgery in March for her right hip. Barbara knew they could trust UPMC Susquehanna with their surgery. Having lived in Williamsport since 1993, they were familiar with the care available in the area, but they also listened to recommendations from family and friends.

“We get most of our health care at UPMC Susquehanna, but we specifically chose Dr. Rackish because my mother had a great experience with him,” says Barbara.

The Joint Center has a focus on education so that you know what to expect and you have personalized support to guide you. “I am a nurse, so maybe not the easiest patient,” says Barbara. “The entire experience was excellent. Dr. Rackish explained everything to us, the therapist was demanding but very compassionate, and they did a good job managing my pain,” Barbara explains.

Typically, a full recovery from total hip replacement surgery can take four to six weeks, but Barbara was determined and ready to start her active retirement plans. Barbara had an anterior hip replacement, a less invasive method, so she knew she might be able to get back to her regular activities sooner.

Thankfully, Barbara was active and in good shape before surgery, so she was able to take advantage of the accelerated recovery program. Barbara worked out for several weeks before her surgery to build muscle strength and make sure her body was ready for total hip replacement surgery. Through a partnership between The Joint Center and the Williamsport Branch YMCA,

Barbara was able to work with a trainer to build the muscles she would need to help her through recovery from surgery.“I was the poster child for recovery,” says Barbara. “I had almost no pain, and I only needed a walker for a few days. At the two-week follow-up appointment, I was walking on my own and feeling much better.”

Dr. Rackish explains the goal for all patients is to get them moving quickly: “It is shown that the sooner they move, the better the outcome for the patient. Of course, we also want them to enjoy the new joint as quickly as possible.” “I think my recovery was so quick because I was able to  strengthen my body so much before surgery,” Barbara says. “After surgery, I began physical therapy the same day and quickly got back to the YMCA to get ready for my second hip surgery.” Just eight weeks after surgery on her right hip, Barbara had her left hip replaced.

Barbara and Theodore are now ready to take on retirement with new energy. In fact, they sold their home in Williamsport to enjoy the sandy beaches and sun of Florida, which is where their grandson lives. They are now walking the beach, swimming, and, most importantly, getting down on the floor and playing with their grandson.