After 50 years of driving herself wherever she wanted to go, Judith Valentini says she was afraid she was going to have to let someone else take the wheel. Her mind was clear and her vision was fine, but her right knee was causing problems.
“To step on the gas and to step on the brake caused pain,” Valentini says. “I knew I had to do something because it was getting to the point that it wouldn’t be safe to drive.”
That wasn’t the only problem caused by her faulty knee. Valentini says stooping, bending and walking were all painful.
“In the house, even leaning over to pick something up off the floor became very difficult,” Valentini says. “My knee was in terrible, terrible shape.”
Valentini, 76, of Tellico Village, recently underwent a robotic-assisted knee replacement at Parkwest Medical Center. She remembers what life was like before that. In short, it was very limited.
Giving Up Gardening
What may have bothered her the most was that she couldn’t work in the garden the way she wanted to. “I love to garden and I couldn’t lean down far enough to do anything worthwhile,” Valentini says, “so it was very frustrating for me.”
Valentini put off seeing a surgeon for months because she had been down this road before, having had her other knee replaced several years earlier. The recovery had been long and hard.
But the pain and the interference in her daily life finally became too much to bear. Valentini scheduled an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Conrad Ivie, MD.
She was intrigued when Dr. Ivie told her she was a candidate for something new. He could replace her knee with assistance from a robotic arm.
“The benefit of robotic surgery is the fact that we can be more precise and accurate in the placement and balancing of our knee replacements to ensure the most optimal outcome for the patient,” Dr. Ivie says.
Getting a New Knee
Valentini liked what she heard about the way this new procedure could do what traditional surgery did, but without the same level of pain and potentially with a faster recovery time. She decided it was worth trying.
After the required CT scan, surgery was scheduled. She and her husband attended a class at Parkwest Medical Center that gave them insight and tools to prepare for the surgery, as well as important information about how to help the recovery go as smoothly as possible.
The procedure was a success, and Valentini was thrilled.
“Several hours later the physical therapist had me up and walking down the hall and bending my leg with no problem, no pain, and no discomfort,” Valentini says. “That week when I went home I used a walker, but half the time I picked it up and carried it because it was too slow.”
Valentini quickly transitioned to using a cane, but decided a few days later that she didn’t need that, either. “I started physical therapy the week following my surgery and the people there were amazed at the range of motion I had, and couldn’t believe I had just had surgery the week before.”
A Better Way
Having experienced the more traditional method of knee replacement years ago, Valentini can’t help but point out the difference.
“When I had my left knee done three years ago it was much more painful, there was a lot more discomfort,” Valentini says. “It was a month to six weeks before I could even start to put on my own clothes, but with the new surgery I was dressing myself within two or three days.”
With a cruise in April and lots of gardening to do in the summer, Valentini is set for living life to the fullest again. She’s already recommended Dr. Ivie and Parkwest Medical Center to friends.
Valentini also says she has no reservations about recommending the robotic-assisted knee replacement.
“It’s kind of exciting being a little bit on the forefront here,” Valentini says with a smile. “It’s cutting edge, it speeds your recovery, it’s fantastic and I’m very glad I had it done!”