23 Nov Body Mechanics
Retired auto technician gets new knee, same-day service
Rodney Loveland began tinkering with cars almost a half century ago, a time when cars still had carburetors, foot-operated dimmer switches and windows raised and lowered by hand crank. But times change, and as the retired mechanic will tell you, “Stuff wears out – no way around it.”
That includes people parts, too, and the 68-year-old Loveland, with two back surgeries and a shoulder surgery, is no exception. Years of twisting, turning, bending, squatting, pushing and pulling – under the hood, under the car and under the dashboard – took its toll. So when a night of bowling wore out his left knee, he figured he was in for a major repair job: total knee replacement and a lengthy rehabilitation period of six months.
“The only sport I do is bowling, and I could bowl, but my leg hurt when I was done, and it hurt the next morning when I got up,” he said. “Then one morning after bowling, I got up and I couldn’t walk on it. I was done. I literally could not walk. My primary doctor gave me a steroid injection, but it didn’t help because it was too far gone by then. He said it was bone on bone, and that I probably needed a total knee replacement.”
Loveland delayed the inevitable for two and a half months. “I was walking on a cane. I was in bad shape. I really was,” he said. “My wife and kids got on me about it. It was just an aching, aggravating pain. I knew I had to do something.”
At the recommendation of family members, Loveland turned to Dr. Paul Yau, an orthopedic surgeon with Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. But instead of total knee replacement, Dr. Yau had a better idea: a partial knee replacement that would take only 30 to 45 minutes of surgery and a hospital stay measured in hours that would have Loveland back on his feet in no time at all.
“If you have a car and one tire is blown, there’s really no point in replacing all the tires,” Dr. Yau explained. “You just have one bad tire. So the partials have been really good for orthopedics because now we can just take the one ‘tire’ that is bad.”
“Dr. Yau looked at the X-rays, and when he came into that room, the first thing he said to me was, ‘I can fix you with only a partial knee replacement,’” said Loveland. “He gave me a brochure about it. It’s called knee resurfacing, and he explained that they’ve been doing this in Europe for years, but it is relatively new in the United States. He said there’s less rehab time and a shorter recovery time. So I said, ‘Hey, bring it on! Let’s do it!’”
So, on Sept. 9, Loveland arrived at Fort Sanders around 8 a.m. and was back home in Dandridge the same afternoon. “I came home on a walker and walked around the house,” he said. “That was a Wednesday, and by Friday I was at physical therapy in Kodak. But I was walking on a cane by the second or third physical therapy session. I probably went to physical therapy 10 times in all. Finally I said, ‘I can do all these stretching exercises at home already.’ So they said, ‘OK, you’re fine. You’re good to go.’ I’m amazed because this is the first time in three years that I’m walking without a limp.”
A former garage owner, Loveland was expecting the medical equivalent of an engine change but instead received same-day service almost as fast and simple as an express oil change.
“I was expecting six months’ recovery time and all this rehab, but it’s only been about a month and a half since I had it done, and you can see how well I can get around. I was up on a ladder yesterday, working on a roof – don’t tell Dr. Yau!” he said with a laugh. “He is so personable. You don’t feel like you’re talking to a doctor. You feel like you’re talking to a buddy or something. He comes in and we’re talking about knees, and the next thing I know, we’re talking about riding motorcycles. He’s just a great guy!”
Loveland was equally impressed with his stay at Fort Sanders, although it was only for a few brief hours. “Fort Sanders, the way they run that place, it was wham!” he said. “Smooth! Click! Click! Click! If you’ve got to get something done, they were great! I was very pleased with the whole procedure and the folks in Dr. Yau’s office. I thought Fort Sanders was amazing.”
Loveland now hopes that he’ll not only be able to return to the bowling lanes soon, but that he’ll do so with less pain and more game.
“I hope this helps my game. I need something to improve it!” he joked. “When you’re right-handed, you slide with your left knee and bending. So I sort of bowled in an upright posture, and didn’t really slide,” he said and laughed. “I didn’t have that pretty delivery. I’m the guy who was on the team because they needed a handicap. But I’m eager to see if it’s made a difference.”