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Joint Solutions Center Patient Stories

It’s an almost universal sentiment our patients share. They all wish they had “done it sooner” when it comes to knee and hip replacement. Perhaps not unlike you, they were living with chronic hip and knee pain every day. We hope these Joint Center testimonials will help you as you make the choice that's right for you. Does it hurt to walk? Let's Talk! Call 404.501.TALK (8255) or email us at letstalk@dekalbmedical.org.

For Rosetta Ash, having total knee replacement surgery was life changing. She initially injured her knee at home then she re-injured it after walking down 11 flights of stairs during a fire drill at work. She treated her knee pain, inflammation and osteoarthritis with medications and cortisone shots for months. She was fortunate to receive DeKalb Medical’s first outpatient surgery and care from a coordinated team of experts. “The doctor, nurses and everyone gave me excellent care,” said Rosetta Ash. “They told me what to expect every step of the way, from pre-op to surgery through post-surgery. I didn’t have to guess about anything and I really appreciate that.”


dianaberryKnee replacement, age 57

Sometimes our past catches up with us, or at least for Decatur librarian, Diana Berry, that seems to be the case. The 57 year-old total knee replacement patient says a 25 year-old skiing accident took its toll on her right knee until one day, it even hurt for her to do simple things like walk her dog.

Standing on her feet all day in the school’s library/media center also aggravated the old Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury and kept it inflamed. “I tried to ignore the pain,” shares Berry, who underwent cortisone injections and other therapies with little noticeable improvement in her knee. “When it got to where I was waking up in pain, I knew it was time to do something,” remembers Berry.

That’s when her doctor recommended surgery at the Joint Solutions Center at DeKalb Medical. “The nursing staff and my experience was great,” recalls Berry, who says she regained 100% mobility in her right knee in just three short months. “My joint care team was so flexible,” says Berry, “they really listened to me and respected how I wanted to recover.” Berry, who enrolled in therapeutic yoga prior to her joint replacement so she could stay in shape, regained her strength and stamina speedily.

Back on her feet just hours after surgery, Berry spent only two days in the hospital and was able to walk more than 3,000 feet on the Center’s indoor walking circuit before heading home to continue her recovery. “I’m ready to have my other knee done now,” laughs Berry, who is back behind the book counter in DeKalb County and writing some of the best chapters of her life.

As a child, I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time on my hands and knees planting and harvesting tobacco, watermelon and collard greens. While I loved working the land, the hard labor left me with some pretty stiff knees and painful joints- a condition that only worsened after 20 years of wear and tear driving a school bus.

The pain got so bad that I chose to sit on the school bus after dropping off the students because I knew it would be too hard to get up and down the bus steps. I always had ice pack and pain ointment handy when I got home from work, but the first-aid only went so far before it was time to get back on my feet and start the whole cycle over again. I tried medications and shots to alleviate the swelling and just set my mind to tolerate the pain, but it kept getting worse.

The final straw came one morning as I was getting out of bed. Almost as soon as my feet hit the ground, it seemed like my legs just buckled beneath me and I went down on the ground. I couldn’t get back up for more than twenty minutes. I was 42 years-old, and knew it was time to do something. The pain was limiting my ability to walk. It was limiting my ability to stand and to work.

Last year, I had both of my knees replaced, and I have to say the surgery was a “piece of cake” compared to the pain I had been living with. Now, I don’t have to worry about unexpected falls, ice packs or how I’m going to get up the stairs to drive my school bus. I am so grateful I can work and walk again!

“When I got to the point where I had to give up some of my pleasures, that’s when I knew it was time to do something about my hip,” recalls 66 year-old Beverly Brett whose arthritis had caused severe deterioration in her hip joint.

An active woman all her life, Brett could be seen out on the tennis court two to three times a week. Her other love was going for morning walks with her husband around the three-mile lake near their home in Lawrenceville. Until one day, Brett says, “I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Intermittent pain in her groin and a “grinding” sound in her hip began to limit her mobility and often caused excruciating pain. After riding in the car, “I had trouble getting up and had to wait a minute once I stood before I could get going,” she remembers. The pain forced Brett to take a break from the tennis court and the gym. She even gave up her walks by the water. “I was afraid I was going to become coach potato,” confesses Brett. So, she sought medical advice and decided to have a hip replacement at DeKalb Medical’s Joint Solutions Center.

Three months post-op, Brett says it’s remarkable how “normal” she feels. “Seventy-five percent of the time, I forget I have even had the surgery done. My hip feels so natural, and I am virtually pain free.” Brett, who was walking freely without a cane or any assistance just four weeks after her surgery, is grateful for how easy it was to get back on her feet. “I thought I was going to feel a whole lot worse than I did. But the treatment and the staff at the JSC were just phenomenal. There wasn’t one person who didn’t treat me like I was special. The whole experience was wonderful.” Even better, Brett is enjoying walks alongside her husband at her beloved lake and should be back in her tennis game in no time.

Pain-free road races and travel:
Avid runner gets back on the road after surgery

What do a trip to Italy and the Walt Disney World® Half-Marathon have in common? They were both reasons for Richard Brock’s decision to undergo knee replacement surgery in May 2011.

“I had my left knee replaced in 2010 but at the time my right knee was not as bad,” explains Brock. An avid runner since the 1970s, 66-year-old Brock continued exercising after his first knee surgery, eventually running again. “My right knee was painful so when my church choir began planning a trip to Italy for September 2011, I decided to have the surgery in May so I’d be fully recovered in time for the trip,” he says. “I did not want a painful knee to interfere with my enjoyment of the trip.”

Because the Joint Solutions Center at DeKalb Medical has a thorough education program for patients prior to their surgery, Brock knew what to expect. “They had me moving as soon as possible after my surgery and I was only in the hospital for three days,” he says. “On my last day at the hospital, I was walking the hallway with my physical therapist and I told her I planned to run the Peachtree Road Race on July 4,” he remembers. “She said she’d like to see a picture of me finishing the race, so on July 5 I took the photo by the hospital for her to see. I wasn’t able to run but I did walk the entire course,” he laughs. Now, his plans include the Disney Half-Marathon in Orlando, FL on January 7, 2012.

Brock likes the Joint Solutions Center staff’s philosophy to get patients up and active as soon as possible after surgery. “I have always been very active and exercise has improved my recovery time,” he admits. Physical therapy and walking throughout the Center are important activities while still at the hospital. “I did take some prescription pain medicine in the hospital and when I first got home but I transitioned quickly to over-the-counter pain medicine.

Brock has not only continued walking every day but he also swims regularly at The Wellness Center at DeKalb Medical and participates in water aerobics classes. He adds, “I’ve always enjoyed swimming and it is an excellent way to exercise after knee surgery.”

“I always knew I’d have to replace my left knee but I figured I’d just wait until the pain interfered with my activities,” says Brock. “My only regret is that I did not do it a year sooner.”

Barbara Huff was living in constant pain in her right hip. Another patient, Rosetta Ash was in excruciating pain in her right knee, even after taking medication and receiving months of conservative treatment. Both women found relief from their pain after joint replacement surgery performed by Dr. Nathan Jové of Atlanta Bone and Joint Specialists.

“Patients should always make sure they work with their physicians to determine if joint replacement surgery is their best option,” said Dr. Nathan Jove. Prior to hip replacement surgery, Huff had tried multiple anti-inflammatory medications and living in constant pain. “I didn’t want to use these drugs for the remainder of my life,” she said. Because her bones were deteriorating and with a diagnoses of bone on bone osteoarthritis, she knew that her hip would not improve over time. After exhausting all other pain relief measures, Dr. Jove recommended the surgery and Huff decided to get her hip replaced.


At 63 years old, Michael Roper was surprised to find himself still paying the price for a skate boarding accident that had occurred in his youth. “But my hobbling was testimony to the truth,” shares the minister at Valley Brook Baptist Church “I tore my right knee to pieces in my thirties, but I thought it had healed,” recalls Roper, who says that he overcompensated with his left knee and over time, developed a limp. An avid cyclist, Roper also began to experience difficulty pedaling uphill without suffering pain. Going up and down the stairs wasn’t much easier, and that’s when he went to see his doctor.

“I tried injections to temporarily replace some of the worn cartilage in my knee and anti-inflammatory medications, but the pain persisted,” he adds. When his doctor suggested knee replacement surgery, Roper says, “I had a lot of fear going in initially… but the procedure turned out to be a piece of cake.”

Most people don’t think of hospitals as places where you “can develop friends in a real hurry.” But for Roper, that’s exactly what happened when his surgeon referred him to DeKalb Medical’s new state-of-the-art Joint Solutions Center the JSC). Inside the JSC’s family atmosphere, patients attend pre-operative classes together and recover in a communal setting where they have their own personal “coach.” Patients join forces in the Joint Gym where they receive daily group physical therapy and can even dine together if they choose. The care model is “very compassionate” says Roper and one that also appeals to his competitive nature.

Each day, the JSC tracks how far patients are able to walk on its 3,500 foot indoor circuit and displays the progress for all to see. “Comparing the distance I traveled to other patients really made me push myself a little harder,” admits Roper, who exceeded the 3,500 foot challenge during his stay.

“My congregation was flabbergasted at how quickly I got back on my feet,” says the pastor, who was back in the pulpit just three weeks after his surgery. “I was sort of a hero in that respect. I did not experience the kind of pain I thought I would,” shares Roper, who plans to have his left knee replaced this summer. Roper, who is also a member of the DeKalb Medical Wellness Center, was back to his fitness routine of leg curls and extensions just one month after leaving the JSC. Today, he is 95% pain-free and has led the Valley Brook Backstretch Cycling Group on a 6-mile trek just eight weeks post-op.

“I can’t recommend the surgery enough for anyone who is living with chronic joint pain,” adds Roper. “The JSC is outstanding. The set-up is awesome, and the staff at DeKalb Medical are so polite and caring. I’m amazed at the mobility I have regained and how much more I can enjoy life.”

Edward Schuppe Before“Every single one of the nurses and technicians were amazing.”  Edward Schuppe can now enjoy simple walks and other recreational activities without worry of pain thanks to two successful total knee replacements performed by Alan Bircoll, MD.  “I played baseball, basketball, football and track and field in high school,” says Schuppe. “Then I continued playing sports in college and semiprofessional baseball for a couple of years.”

At age 65, after a lifetime of playing sports and stress on his joints, Schuppe was finally ready to have knee replacement surgery. His decision to have “the surgery” didn’t happen overnight; he thought about it for years before moving forward with the idea.

Once he made the decision to move forward with the surgery, Dr. Bircoll performed two knee replacements within 5 months of each other. The first knee replacement was on his left knee in November 2016 followed by his right knee in April 2017.

After his surgery he remembers how fantastic everyone who cared for him were. He remembers a time when an occupational therapist was in the room when he needed assistance to the restroom. Instead of calling a nurse in the room, the occupational therapist suggested that she could help. She assisted him safely to the restroom and back to his bed.

He even recalls Matt Glogowski, Program Manager for the Joint Solutions Center and Sports Medicine Program pitching in, “Matt is unbelievable, on several occasions, Matt would stop by to say hello and he would get water and ice chips or whatever,” said Schuppe.

Although his surgeries and doctor’s appointments were approximately 35 miles from his home in McDonough, Georgia, Schuppe says he’ll continue to travel the distance because he believes, “DeKalb Medical is the #1 hospital in Atlanta.” He continues to follow the doctor’s orders. Today, he rides his stationary bike for 10 minutes a day and stays fit with some upper body workouts. If there was one thing he wants to say to the staff in the hospital, “keep up the great work!”


Edward Schuppe After

Prior to having a full knee replacement, 45 year-old Culver Simmons had difficulty putting on socks much less playing his favorite sport, golf. The trouble first started 17 years ago when he tore the connective tissue (anterior cruciate ligament or ACL) around his knee during a skiing accident.

Arthroscopic surgery in his twenties held him for a few years, but eventually the wear and tear on his knee turned into activity limiting daily discomfort. Simmons couldn’t do the things he loved to do anymore. He couldn’t run at all and stopped playing baseball. “I learned to live with the pain and worked around it,” says Simmons who eventually developed chronic back pain from the way he carried his weight as he attempted to compensate for his bad knee. The results of his MRI confirmed that he needed a knee replacement. Five minutes later, he says he had a date for his surgery.

“Knee replacement is major surgery, but DeKalb Medical makes it seem so simple,” says Simmons. “24 hours after the procedure, I was up and walking. I thought the healing process might be a little slower for me since I am diabetic, but it wasn’t,” recalls Simmons. “To be feeling as good as I do just 90 days after my surgery still amazes me,” says Simmons who admits he has been more active in the last three months than he has in the past three years thanks to the surgery. Even better, just four weeks after getting a new knee, Simmons was back on the putting green hitting golf balls. “I couldn’t be happier with my decision to have surgery,” says Simmons who is one of the youngest patients to undergo knee replacement at the Joint Solutions Center.

I’ve spent most of my life on my feet working as a cashier, and it took a toll on my joints. At work, they let me sit on a stool when I needed, but eventually even sitting became painful. The pain was horrible. On a scale of one to ten, I’d say it was a 12. For seven years, I sought relief with pain pills and anti-inflammatory shots in my knee, but it just wasn’t getting any better. Finally, when it began to affect my work and my income, I decided to have a total joint replacement.

I had never had surgery in my entire life and I thought my leg was going to look ugly afterwards. But I have to say, I am thrilled. I love my new knee. It’s been six months since the surgery, and I am completely pain free in that knee. It works so well, I want it to have a “mate,” and will probably have my other knee new replaced in the near future.

“It used to be that I planned my life around my knee pain. Stairs were my enemy and I avoided the movies or anywhere I had to sit for long periods of time. Now, that I’ve had knee surgery, I can enjoy life's simple pleasures again.

The procedure has made a 110% difference in my life. Now, I wake up every day feeling like I won the lottery. I have no pain and can go to the cinema or sit for a long dinner without feeling stiffness when I get up. I can even go dancing!

My knee replacement feels so natural. It’s perfect and you would never know I had the surgery except for the small scar. The surgery was really worth it and I wish I had done it sooner. They called me ‘Superwoman’ at the Joint Solutions Center because I was walking up and down the hallways as the day after my surgery. I spent just two weeks on a walker and it’s been smooth sailing ever since then.”

Debra Weems - 57 years old

William WilsonLike many people, if you played sports growing up, you may have mild or persistent joint pain. William Wilson, who played football and baseball and ran extensively his entire life, started feeling severe pain in his right hip by age 69.

As a child, sports was a great way for Wilson to have fun and to be a part of a team. As an adult, he continues to stay active. One of his favorite activities is jogging, which he started over 30 years ago. He has run in the Peachtree Road Race as well as participated in multiple half marathon’s.

After years of wear and tear and after injuring his hip several times, he began to notice pain in his right hip. The pain continued to get worse; every step was painful. It got to the point where he could hardly walk. Williams started to think about a hip replacement. He consulted with his primary care physician who recommended Dr. Lawrence Bircoll of Resurgens Orthopedics for the surgery. Wilson checked the online reviews about DeKalb Medical’s Joint Solutions Program and talked with several people before moving forward with the surgery.

Once his surgery was completed, he noticed the pain in his hip was gone right away. “If I could have danced right after my surgery, I would have,” said Wilson. “I am tremendously pleased with my hip replacement and physical therapy.” Nearly three months after his surgery, Wilson enjoys walking and uses the bike and elliptical machines in his gym.

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Emory Decatur Hospital
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Decatur, GA 30033

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