On the Road Again

Knee Replacement Gets Car Buff Back on the Road

It wasn’t a midlife crisis that caused Donald Otis, 66, to buy a Jetstream Blue Metallic Chevy Corvette last year, he said, it was a retirement crisis. When Don retired after 40 years as a professional forester with the U.S. Forest Service he decided to make his retirement dream come true—he would buy a Corvette. But first, he became an expert on everything Corvette.

“I schooled myself on the car—the engines, the models, the colors,” he said. “I knew where every used Corvette in Northern California was located. I had tried 100 cars by the time I found an ad on Craig’s List for a 2008 coupe.

As soon as I saw the car, I knew it was the one.”

Driving with the wind in their hair was a joy he and his wife Sheri, both car buffs, couldn’t get enough of…. until one day Don’s gimpy knee locked up and he couldn’t get into his pride and joy. He turned to a medical expert for help.

Donald demonstrates how he moves his still recovering knee into his retirement Corvette.

“I knew I needed surgery,” he said. “I injured my knee back in the 1970s when I was in the service, and I struggled with it for years. I had arthroscopic surgery in 1995, but I could never quite straighten my leg.”

His physician, Douglas Freeman, M.D., at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Fairfield, referred him to Orthopedic Surgeon Andrew Brooks, M.D., and the NorthBay Joint Replacement Program at VacaValley Hospital. The program has nurtured hundreds of knee and hip replacement patients back to health since opening in 2007.

“Dr. Brooks recommended a total knee replacement because I had arthritis and bone spurs in my knee,” Don said. Arthritis is a general term meaning joint inflammation. The most common form is osteoarthritis, affecting nearly 21 million Americans. As people age, the chances of osteoarthritis increases. It can also be caused by family history, obesity, injuries to the joint and previous surgeries where cartilage was removed from a joint.

Total knee replacement surgery involves replacing the knee joint with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic. The materials used in an artificial joint are very strong and designed to last a long time inside the body.

Many factors, like age, bone density and the shape of your joints determine what type of joint replacement hardware a patient receives and how it is inserted into the knee.

The experts at the NorthBay Joint Replacement Program carefully planned every step of Don’s care to promote a successful surgery and speedy recovery. Thanks to new technology and pain management, Don was home two days after surgery.

“Dr. Brooks said I was in the top 25 of all-time bad knees he had operated on,” Don remembered. A usual knee replacement takes an hour and a half—Don’s took more than three hours.

Surgery, however, is just the first step toward a healthy knee. “I had talked to many people who had undergone knee replacement and their message was the same: ‘Don’t slack off on your physical therapy or you will pay for it later,’” Don said.

We’ve all heard that there is no “cure” for arthritis. The battle with arthritis is over motion. The key is to keep moving and stretching to maintain the use of your joints.
~Robert Peterson, M.D.

He underwent two weeks of in-home physical therapy followed by eight weeks of outpatient rehabilitation. “I did my exercises religiously. It hurt and I had to force myself to do them,” he said. “But the work paid off. I’m delighted with my progress.”

He had nothing but praise for the team that cared for him. “My wife managed physician’s offices for 40 years, so we’re very familiar with the medical field,” Don explained. “But never, in 40 years, have we been treated as well as in Dr. Brook’s office, by his entire staff and that of the Joint Replacement Program.”

And, best of all, Don and Sheri are back on the road, cruising in their Corvette with the wind in their hair.

Meet our Physicians: Orthopedics

  • Robert Peterson, M.D.Vacaville
  • Andrew Brooks, M.D.Vacaville
  • Daniel Birkbeck, M.D.Vacaville
  • Cornelis Elmes, M.D.Fairfield
  • Jay Parkin, M.D.Fairfield
  • Steven Siegal, M.D.Fairfield

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