CRIPPLING KNEE ARTHRITIS AT A YOUNG AGE.
No one expects the pain of arthritis to affect a thirty-something adult, but that’s what Westchester middle school teacher, Mallory Chinn, was faced with. For 5 years, Mallory tried every non-operative treatment available to ease the worsening pain in her knees. Some treatments would work for a while. Others did not work at all. By the time Mallory turned 40, her pain was debilitating. She had trouble walking and climbing stairs, and missed out on family activities such as bike rides and hikes in the woods.
“I was pretty much immobilized,” recalled Mallory, now 43. The defining moment came one day when her youngest child, then 7 years old, ran ahead of her. “When I tried to chase up the hill after him, I was stopped in my tracks by an excruciating stab in my knee. I thought ‘this is ridiculous. How can I be so young and not mobile?”
By this time, Mallory’s arthritis was severe, often referred to as bone-on-bone. She looked ahead to the life she wanted to have going forward and it didn’t include constant pain and physical limitations.
“I wanted to be able to live an active life and keep up with my kids, so I decided to go for it,” she said of her decision to undergo a double knee replacement procedure.
On August 11, 2017, Dr. Demetris Delos of ONS performed the surgery at Greenwich Hospital. The procedure went according to plan. However, as anyone who has recovered from a knee replacement can attest, the road to recovery is a slow, challenging process that requires months of rehabilitation.
Following surgery, Mallory recuperated for a few weeks at an in-patient rehabilitation facility. Upon release, she went to a number of local physical therapy centers to continue her rehab program. Time after time, she was disappointed by the therapists’ indifference to her concerns and pain. As soon as Mallory learned that ONS had a state-of-the-art physical therapy center at the Harrison office, she made an appointment. At ONS, she found the physical therapists were kind and highly-skilled at helping joint replacement patients get moving again.
THE ONS ADVANTAGE
“Everyone made it a happy, safe place to heal. I actually looked forward to going to therapy because it felt like I was a part of a big family,” she said. Mallory praised the therapists and PT Techs and the integrated care she received. Once when there was a concern about one of her wounds, the therapist, Robert Spatz, PT, reached out to Dr. Delos and received a reply within a minute.
“Dr. Delos and the Physician Assistants were always there if I had questions or needed a prescription refill. Whenever Dr. Delos was at the Harrison office, he always came over to PT to see how I was doing,” she said. When it came time to come off the narcotics, Dr. Alex Levchenko, an ONS physiatrist, introduced Mallory to alternative pain management strategies. “I didn’t even know ONS had doctors that could do that,” she said.
Mallory was particularly impressed by the amount of time Spatz, who is also the director of PT at that office, spent working with her.
“In other places, I’d see the therapist for a minute and then I’d be handed over to a tech for the rest of the hour. Robert always gave me a big chunk of his time,” she said. “He was respectful of my tolerance and goals. He went out of his way to educate me about each step of the recovery process.”
Mallory went to PT three times a week until she “graduated” in December of that year. She was strong and stable enough to continue her strengthening using a tailor-made workout she could do at the gym.
REGAINING INDEPENDENCE WITH NEW KNEES
Since then, Mallory has fully reclaimed mobility in her life and enjoys activities with her friends and family. She has hiked in the mountains of Colorado, and can spend an entire day walking around New York City. At a summer camp last year, Mallory led a group of 30 girls through a physically challenging Ninja Race course. In May, Mallory picked up a jump rope during her school’s Wellness Week, and got hopping. “I wasn’t the bounciest person out there, but I could never have done it before my knee replacements.”
Although Mallory is completely recovered, she has had occasions to visit ONS. She brought her husband to the Harrison office when he needed treatment for back pain. She was back again when her daughter sustained an athletic injury. Each time, she has been welcomed with the same kindness she first experienced during her time there. “I tell everyone that ONS is the best. I’ve sent family members and friends there. I wouldn’t even think of going anywhere else,” she said.