DETERMINATION AND A SURGEON’S SKILL PUT ONE PATIENT BACK IN THE RACE.
How can a 54-year old man come back from knee replacement surgery to complete a 100-mile bike race just 18 weeks post-op and an Ironman competition four months after that?
According to Greenwich resident Ken Harris, the answer is determination to be physically fit before surgery, setting goals to achieve after surgery, and selecting the joint replacement surgeon he could trust to do the best job. That surgeon was Frank Ennis, MD, of ONS.
“Dr. Ennis understood that I wanted to achieve certain things and we worked together to get me there. I learned that losing weight and getting fit before surgery would make the entire process so much easier, so I did what I had to do,” Ken said.
Indeed, studies have shown that people who are in good physical condition prior to surgery are much more likely to have an easier, faster and successful recovery than those who are in poor shape. Ken, for one, reinforces those findings.
AN UPHILL BATTLE WITH PHYSICAL CHALLENGES
However, Ken’s road to pre-surgical fitness wasn’t an easy one. Over the past 25 years, Ken’s athletic pursuits were moved to the back burner while he raised a family and built a residential contracting business. At the same time, Ken began to experience pain in both knees that interfered with his ability to exercise. In 2014, the former Ironman and triathlon competitor contracted a MRSA virus in his right knee after seeking treatment for pain. That episode took a grueling six months to overcome.
Traumatized by the experience, Ken put off seeking any further pain treatment, even as it worsened over the years. By 2018, Ken was so debilitated by pain, he couldn’t perform many of the tasks required in his line of work or simply climb a flight of stairs. He knew he had to do something. That’s when he went searching for a joint replacement surgeon who would give him confidence that his previous medical nightmare would not be repeated. Friends recommended ONS and Dr. Ennis.
“Dr. Ennis immediately put me at ease. He genuinely listened to my concerns and was cautious and sensitive to what I had been through,” Ken said, “He gave me faith that I could get my life back and he was there guiding me every step of the way.”
With confidence in Dr. Ennis’s surgical expertise, Ken didn’t feel any angst or fear going into the procedure. After, he was amazed that he didn’t need narcotics for pain.
“I took one painkiller after leaving the hospital but once I realized that I only felt discomfort, I threw out the rest. There wasn’t really any pain,” he said.
Ken’s exceptional recovery was helped along through 12 weeks of rehabilitation at the ONS Physical Therapy Center at the Harrison office. By the time therapy was finished, Ken was ready to rebuild his strength and endurance on a bike so he could participate in the New York Gran Fondo six weeks later.
While Ken may never run a 2:43 marathon again, he is motivated by what he can do, as long as Dr. Ennis gives him the okay. On August 18, Ken completed an Ironman competition at Mont Tremblant in Canada. It was just 7 months and 7 days from the date of his surgery.
“When I asked Dr. Ennis about doing the Ironman, his main concern was whether I felt up to it. And he advised me to walk during the part of the race the involves running. I could live with that,” he said.