Life after Surgery

Veterinarian finally undergoes joint replacement — and enjoys the results

Scott Nordstrom with a physical therapistLife hasn't been kind to Scott Nordstrom's knee. When Nordstrom was 18 years old, he tumbled off a cliff in the dark while raccoon hunting and tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), which is crucial for knee mobility and stability.

Fourteen years later, as a veterinarian, Nordstrom was vaccinating calves when one slipped on a tile floor and tumbled into that same knee. Not long afterward, he developed a Baker's cyst behind that knee, causing significant swelling and leading to his fourth surgery since that teenage accident.

Doctors advised him to consider knee replacement surgery when he was 40, but Nordstrom balked, believing that he was too young. Also, his time as a vet caused him to become concerned about MRSA, a dangerous staph bacteria that he thought might become a factor if the knee replacement was rejected by his body.

"I had a lot of concerns, and so I wanted to wait as long as possible," he says. "I began doing activities that were OK for my knee, as opposed to doing what I really wanted to do." For example, he gave up hiking, one of his favorite activities, and went swimming instead because it was gentle on his knee.

Finally, at age 51, he could feel how much he was shifting his weight to his "good" knee, and he feared that he'd end up hurting that leg as well. With enormous trepidation, he went into the Augusta Health Joint Care Center to talk about the surgery. It didn't take long before he felt better already. He consulted with Thomas Pereles, MD, who performed the surgery.

"They did a great job of telling me everything I needed to know about joint replacement," says Nordstrom, adding that the low rate of infection soothed his fears about MRSA. He also appreciated the comprehensive approach to pain management, since he was familiar with the extent of post-surgery joint pain.

It wasn't until Nordstrom came out of surgery and started the recovery process, though, that he really saw the benefits of the Joint Care Center. "They take a team approach, so you really feel like you're not in this alone," he recalls.

After three days in the hospital, Nordstrom went home, but he was still cared for by the center's team. "They managed everything, from my physical therapy to home health," he says. These days, he's gradually returning to running, an activity he thought he'd never be able to do again. "The Joint Center takes the mystery out of joint replacement, and I'm really glad I finally got this done," he says.

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