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Patient Experiences

Patient Experiences

Successful Knee Replacement at 50

Suzie Flentie

I grew up in central Montana where I learned to love outdoor activities, and I've always loved running. As a young girl I wore out three stick horses (a popular toy back in the 1960s) on the gravel roads surrounding our home near the foot of the Belt Mountains. I ran competitively in high school and college, and after graduating from college I returned to Lewistown where I teach science and coach cross country and track.

Running, hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, golfing, coaching, and walking have always been important contributors to my quality of life.

Then in 2008, when I was 49, my left knee suddenly began to hurt after the most basic of daily activities. Until that time, I had been comfortably running several miles a day. However, as soon as I experienced the pain in my knee, I stopped running, had an MRI, and began physical therapy as suggested by my doctor.

After six months of continual pain, physical therapy and no improvement, I underwent arthroscopic surgery here in Lewistown to remove torn cartilage. My doctor was surprised to find that my knee was bone-on-bone in several places and told me that I would never run again.

By then, I had turned 50 and was advised that because of my age, my only option was knee replacement, but that I should try to wait until I was a little older to have the knee replacement. I very much wanted to get back to the quality of life that I enjoyed so much as soon as possible, so a knee replacement sometime in the distant future seemed like a poor solution to me.

After researching the possibilities, I found a doctor in Montana who did cartilage transplants, but he said that the amount of bone-on-bone in my knee was beyond his procedural ability. He referred me on to Dr. Cole at Rush in Chicago. In spite of my age, Dr. Cole determined that I would be a good candidate for a cartilage transplant and distal realignment.

The recovery was not easy, but I was able to begin coaching and teaching two weeks after the surgery. My recovery is progressing nicely on the timeline Dr. Cole predicted. My quality of life is also improving on the same schedule. Those first two years of going over the hill to the other side of 50 have been challenging, but it's been a new awakening for me because I am relishing each run, mountain hike, and walk in the countryside with my family.

I am so thankful to be pain free and I am grateful to Dr. Cole and his staff for making it possible.

    — Suzie Flentie

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