Back in the Saddle

By Patty Burnet

When Patty Burnet returned from a trip to the Mediterranean with her girlfriends, she knew that it was time to do something about the severe knee pain she’d been experiencing for years.

Despite having gel injections in each of her knees prior to the vacation, as well as buying the best walking shoes she could find, Burnet was in constant and serious pain. “It was like my whole life was becoming a sedentary and painful thing,” she says.

That kind of lifestyle was not going to work for Burnet.

Raised on a farm in northeastern Oregon, she grew up building tree forts, jumping out of barn windows, riding horses and, eventually, skiing.

“My joints were taking a beating early on,” she says.

As she grew up, Burnet didn’t grow any more interested in slowing down. She has maintained her passion for horseback riding, and also cycles and gardens. But, more than anything, Patty loves to watch local sporting events, especially those featuring her granddaughter, Megan.IMG_3070_HR

When it became hard to navigate the steep bleachers at Megan’s track-and-field events it was time to face facts about her troublesome knees. “It was a long time coming,” says Burnet. “I decided to do something about it. I’m a problem solver.”

Visiting with her doctor, Burnet learned she was an ideal candidate for a total knee replacement. She also learned that having the procedure done at Mid-Columbia Medical Center meant she was definitely in the right place.

MCMC is one of only two Oregon hospitals whose Total Joint Replacement Program is certified with a Gold Seal of Approval by The Joint Commission, a prestigious quality organization. The MCMC team includes not only orthopaedic surgeons, but also MCMC’s surgery, nursing and rehabilitation therapy departments.

This rare certification signifies that MCMC’s program meets or exceeds The Joint Commission’s stringent patient care and safety standards for hip and knee replacement surgery and rehabilitation.

After deciding to have the surgery, Burnet attended MCMC’s Joint Camp – a morning-long presentation covering all aspects of surgery and recovery.

During Joint Camp, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists give patients information and advice on what lies ahead. Additionally, patients learn how to use important medical equipment that will be vital in their recovery process.

Because of the comprehensive information she received at Joint Camp, Burnet says she felt well prepared for the procedure. She says her surgery went as smoothly as she could have hoped for.

“The surgeons were so calm, so knowledgeable. I was so ready to do it; there was just no anxiety at all.”

Just hours after the procedure, Burnet was already on her feet. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I was standing there with full weight on both legs. I came to the hospital and both knees hurt. Now, there was no pain.”

Physical therapy following a total joint replacement is key to returning full mobility. Taryn Andree, of MCMC’s Physical Therapy department at Water’s Edge, was the first to see Burnet on the day of her surgery. Andree notes that it’s important to begin work on a patient’s range of motion and ability to walk as soon as possible.

Following a short stay at MCMC, Burnet was back at home and receiving visits from her physical therapists as well as home health nurses. The therapists helped Burnet with exercises designed to increase balance and confidence and reduce swelling associated with the surgery. The nurse helped her get back on track with some of the basics that patients recovering from surgery no longer can take for granted, like getting out of a chair and sitting down again.

After a few weeks of home therapy, Burnet was ready to start outpatient therapy at Water’s Edge with Andree and her colleague Ryan Sharkey. Andree describes Burnet as being “incredibly upbeat and motivated.”

Burnet was determined to do all of the exercises prescribed by her therapists, and that attitude played a key role in her quick recovery. Her therapists noted she was open to instruction and the hard work it takes to return to wellness.

The work wasn’t all drudgery though. MCMC’s physical therapists have many tools at their disposal when it comes to helping their patients recover. “We try to make therapy fun,” says Andree.

In addition to the medical exercises, Burnet was also actively involved in aquatic therapy.

After several weeks of outpatient therapy, she was able to return to her active life. Now she even looks forward to having her other knee replaced later this year.

Once that’s behind her, Burnet will be able to return to all the activities she enjoys most, including her primary passion, horseback riding.

Then there will be no doubt she’s back in the saddle again.