Anyone who knows Pat Dennis, knows she is a nonstop dynamo who lets nothing stand in her way. So when the former NorthBay Guild president found herself sidelined by a painful knee, she embraced the idea of a knee replacement. Pat, 76, of Vacaville, is back on the go following her total right knee replacement in October. She credits her fast recovery to the Joint Replacement Program at VacaValley Hospital and her long-term commitment to physical therapy.
“The staff at the Joint Replacement Program has every detail of your care planned,” Pat says. “My surgeon, Dr. Andrew Brooks, was awesome and I began my journey through physical therapy the day after surgery.”
A physical therapist coaches the joint replacement patients on how to stand and sit without pain and they take a short walk within 24 hours of their surgery. By the time they leave the hospital, most patients are walking with little help.
Once she was home, Pat was visited twice a week by a nurse from NorthBay Health at Home and a physical therapist from NorthBay Rehabilitation Services. She put her boundless energy to work to strengthen and heal her new knee.
“I had exercises to do on my own and exercises to do with the physical therapist,” Pat explains. “Let’s face it, sometimes it hurts like the dickens, but you’ve got to do the work if you want a complete recovery. There’s no place for feeling sorry for yourself; you’ve got to get moving.”
She feels fortunate to be blessed with overall good health. Her knee problem began with a torn meniscus (the rubbery padding between the knee joints) and an unsuccessful surgical repair in 2011. She spent the following eight months in pain before deciding on joint replacement.
“How painful was my knee before the joint replacement? There were times when the pain made me sit down and cry,” Pat adds. “I just wish I had replaced my knee sooner.”
When her prescribed physical therapy ended, Pat joined a sports rehabilitation center in Vacaville. There she has a physical therapist who guides her exercise and keeps her progressing. “I’ve learned how to take care of my knee and what to expect as I heal,” Pat explains. “I have a therapist who’s always right at hand and who knows I’m committed to doing what it takes—whether it hurts or not.”