Hinsdale resident Fran Gartner, 63, has too much energy and too many plans to let knee arthritis slow her down. A runner and world traveler, she said ‘enough is enough’ earlier this year.
With knee pain limiting her ability to walk comfortably and get in and out of a car, she approached friends and acquaintances about their experiences with knee replacement surgery. She counted six who were very satisfied patients of Dr. Richard Berger of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, but what impressed her the most was how far people were willing to travel to be treated by him. While in Mexico earlier this year, she met a Canadian tourist who had traveled to Chicago to undergo surgery by Dr. Berger. She was sold.
Surgery education and preparation
In February, just prior to COVID, she scheduled an appointment to meet him. She recalls Dr. Berger reviewing her imaging showing clear evidence of bone-on-bone osteoarthritis, and responding, “yes, we need to fix this.” He explained his outpatient surgery procedure and goals to have her safely home and walking the same day.
“From the very first appointment, I was so impressed with the care and attention I received,” she says. “His whole staff was so personable. When I called his nurse practitioner Emily K. later that week, she returned my call within just ten minutes.”
Gartner attended a Zoom class run by a member of Dr. Berger’s nursing staff during which she learned more about the outpatient knee replacement procedure and what to expect. It included animation of the surgery and information on the unique prostheses he uses based upon the size and gender of a patient. It also included pre-op and post-op instructions along with frequently asked questions regarding the procedure.
She also appreciated getting a copy of what has been dubbed ‘The Berger Bible.’ This, she explains, is a binder including detailed information on everything a patient might need, including what to expect, medication, physical therapy, and even local hotel and restaurant recommendations. “I read everything front to back because I wanted to have good results,” she says.
Back to enjoying life
Due to COVID restrictions mandated by the state in the spring, Gartner’s surgery was delayed a few months and by that time she was more than ready.
Following surgery, she was met by a physical therapist who helped her carefully walk up and down a set of stairs. Released and back home that day, she began Dr. Berger’s multi-modal pain management protocol and enjoyed several weeks of in-home physical therapy.
At her first follow-up visit, she asked Dr. Berger what she should be focusing on now in terms of her recovery. She was delighted when he responded, “just go and enjoy your life.”
And, enjoy she did. Just seven weeks after surgery, Gartner traveled to California where she kayaked and biked four miles; activities she thought were in the past before knee replacement surgery. “I felt so great on that trip that I sent Dr. Berger a postcard,” Gartner says.