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A special patient takes home a holiday gift from KGH
Bilateral knee joint replacement: a patient's experience in Ketchikan


December 20, 2003
Saturday - 12:45 am

"Knees creak and crack, someone asks you if your hip hurts; you are walking funny. And aerobics class hurts this year. For me, that was the beginning of six years of degenerative

Linda Gilson
arthritis that began in my knees. As an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, I knew that eventually those knees would need to be replaced," said Linda Gilson, long-time employee of the Wilson Clinic. Gilson had some success in alleviating the pain through water aerobics, yet her knees continued to degenerate. Her gait became difficult; climbing stairs was impossible without bringing one foot up to meet the other. Both work and family activities had become more and more difficult. "Eventually I admitted to myself after 35 years of taking care of patients, now I was the one who needed help; that's when I went to see Dr. Schwartz."

Bruce Schwartz, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Southeast Orthopedic Clinic, helped Gilson plan for bilateral joint replacement at Ketchikan General Hospital. Schwartz, with a wealth of experience in the procedure, helped her understand the surgery and the projected eight-week recovery period. He presented the option of having each knee done separately, approximately six months apart. However, Gilson's age and general health allowed her the option of having both knees operated on concurrently, and that was the option she chose. "For me," she explained, "I want whatever is quick and gets me back on my feet the soonest."

Next, Gilson met with KGH Physical Therapist Kareesan Nathamuni, an employee recruited recently for his exceptional skills in this area of rehabilitation. Nathamuni explained that his role following surgery would be to assist her as she re-learned walking and navigating stairs prior to discharge from the hospital. Then as an outpatient, she would come in frequently to continue her therapy. A tour of the Rehabilitation Department was a part of their initial meeting.

Finally, the day before the surgery, Gilson met with the hospital's pre-operative coordinator and the anesthetist who explained what she could expect of the surgery, anesthesia, and post-operative period.

"The most remarkable thing to me­and what many people don't realize--is that this wonderful and effective surgery can take place on our little island. Being close to family and colleagues during my surgery and recovery made an enormous difference for me," Gilson remarked. "KGH has a great team for this procedure. The physician, therapist and staff are wonderful and provide you with individualized care. You are soon taking a few steps without the pain you had before. And working with Kareesan and the staff of PT helps you be home within a few days and beginning a whole new life, "she said. "I'm planning to be walking around Ward Lake soon!" Co-workers recently noticed her out on the dance floor at the hospital Christmas party.


Photo Gallery

Dancing Again...
Linda Gilson and Bruce Schwartz, MD


Kareesan Nathamuni,
Physical Therapist

Source of News & Photos:

Ketchikan General Hospital
Web Site


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Ketchikan, Alaska