Cindy Andrachek has known more than her share of burdens. At 24, the Vacaville resident lost her first husband to leukemia. Only five years later, her second husband was tragically killed in a bicycle accident, leaving her alone to raise four children.
She refused to let the grief overcome her, and instead got busy rebuilding her life. Her love of horses sustained her through some tough times. She remarried, had two more children, and built an amazingly successful business, Canyon Creek Ranch, on 6 acres nestled up against the Vaca Mountains in Mix Canyon.
Hard work just goes with the territory. Cindy would rise early each morning to get started. Her day included feeding, exercising and grooming the horses, mucking the stalls, teaching children how to ride, sharing her devotion to horses and riding and more.
But when excruciating pain gripped her hip two years ago, she really thought her life was over. “I thought I had seen everything, but there’s nothing like the fear of losing your independence,” she said. “My physical strength is what I pride myself on. I’ve always been a very independent person.”
So a year ago, she had her hip replaced by the NorthBay Healthcare Joint Replacement Program at Vaca-Valley Hospital. “Coming out with a walker, I had to wonder if I’d ever be able to get back to what I’m so passionate about. But 10 months later, here I am. There’s almost nothing I can’t do at this point.” Cindy agreed to be one of two joint replacement patients featured in a special video documenting the program’s two-year anniversary.
Cynthia Giaquinto, program manager, also appears in the video, interviewing former patients who have found a new lease on life.
“One of the most fun things we do is when we get to visit with patients who have gotten their lives back,” said Cynthia. The video made its debut at an anniversary celebration for the Joint Replacement Program in October at NorthBay’s Green Valley Administration Center and can be found onlinebelow.
Also featured in the video is Mely Mamaraldo, a NorthBay Healthcare employee who had both knees replaced and reports the surgeries were a complete success. “I tell everybody if you have joint pain, you should do it. I did it, and I’m so glad I did!”
Giaquinto reports that in two years, NorthBay’s Joint Replacement Program, “Highway to Home” has performed 125 knee replacements, and 75 hip replacements and is just starting to do shoulder replacement in an environment that promotes interaction between patients to encourage and nurture the healing process.
About 30 people attended the October celebration, some former patients who wanted to share their stories, and some who came to learn about the joint replacement program. Orthopedic Surgeon Andrew Brooks gave a brief talk about joint replacement, touching on the history of the procedure and what today’s patient can expect.
Joint replacement surgery first became available in the 1960s. In those days, Dr. Brooks explained, it took four hours for the surgery, and the patient had to spend a fair amount of time in a wheelchair after that.
In the last 10 years, surgical techniques and the materials used in the artificial joints are so improved that a joint can be replaced in an hour and the patient is quickly up on their feet.