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Charlie's story

In early retirement, arthritic knee pain became more of a concern for Charlie who lives in rural, northern Wisconsin.  He was having trouble sleeping comfortably, going up and down stairs with the ease he once experienced, and his quality of life was increasingly deteriorating due to the discomfort in both knees. Not only were daily activities like getting in and out of his truck becoming more difficult, but his knees no longer had the strength and stamina he once took for granted.

Thanks to the partnership between Prevea Health and HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls, people like Charlie who live in rural communities have access to highly trained specialists much closer to home. This includes Dr. Mark Schick, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who sees patients at the Prevea Oconto Falls Medical Services Building and performs surgery at HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital.

After consulting with Dr. Schick about the significant pain and stiffness in his knees, Charlie learned his best chance for a successful outcome would be to have total knee replacement surgery. The next question for Charlie was if he should have one knee done at a time, spaced several months apart, or have both knees replaced at the same time. Dr. Schick discussed at length the pros and cons of both options. 

“Dr. Schick made it clear that I was an excellent candidate to have both knee replacement surgeries done at the same time,” said Charlie.

Replacing both knees at once is often done when the patient is in good health and when both knees are severely affected by the arthritis. The way Charlie looked at it, if both knees could be replaced at once, he could experience the recovery and physical therapy just one time rather than twice.

“I liked being at St. Clare and Prevea because all the care I needed was being offered right there in Oconto Falls and at one location,” said Charlie. “Their team was all there, from the surgeons to the physical therapists I’d need immediately following the surgery.”

On the day of the surgery, Charlie was impressed by how Dr. Schick and the surgical team made him and his wife feel at ease.

“Each member of Dr. Schick’s team took the time before surgery to introduce themselves and explain their role in the operation,” said Charlie. “This unexpected gesture was nice. They wanted me to be comfortable with what was about to happen and ready for what was to come following the surgery.”

Once the surgery was completed, Charlie stayed at the hospital for one night so his team of caregivers could monitor his condition and make sure he was ready to return home. He also saw physical therapists at the hospital within hours of the surgery. Charlie was assisted in doing stretches, walking, and climbing up and down a few stairs. Though the process of recovery presented some challenges, Charlie was thankful Dr. Schick took time before his surgery to explain what he could expect in physical therapy as well as strongly encouraging him to do the prescribed exercises frequently before surgery. 

“I started doing these exercises well before my surgery and I think this really helped with my recovery,” said Charlie.

Within two weeks of his surgery, Charlie noticed the pain in his knees was nearly gone. Additionally, one of his legs, which bowed significantly before the surgery, was now straight. Over time, Charlie also felt the weakness in his knees was nearly gone, and through continued physical therapy he noticed improvements.

“Over the course of about five months of physical therapy, both with the therapists and on my own, I gained confidence in my new knees,” said Charlie. “I now have straight legs, more stability, and can walk upwards of two to three miles at a time. My legs are much better now than they were before the surgery.”

Today, Charlie can hop into his truck easily once again, clear his driveway after snowstorms without pain, and sleep in comfort thanks to the care he received from Dr. Schick, Prevea Health and HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital.