Richard Scholz's Joint Replacement Surgery Success Story

Richard Scholz had always been an active man with lots of interests, until he needed a hip replacement.
Richard Scholz in the pool working with a physical therapist.

Richard Scholz had always been an active man with lots of interests. He played baseball at the squadron-level while in the Air Force, traveled all over the world and was a gourmet cook.
But at 66 years old, he was slowing down considerably and realized he was becoming old before his time. It was his knees. For the last four years, they hurt nearly all the time, making it painful to walk.

While on the cruises he liked to take, he was forced to forego activities and day excursions off the ship. He found it difficult to get around; he even had trouble shopping for ingredients for the gourmet meals he liked to prepare.

His immobility led to weight gain and other health risks. In November of 2007, Richard Scholz took the first step toward recapturing his active lifestyle.

Richard had been on a cruise and had talked to folks who had knee replacement surgery. It was obvious to Richard that they could participate in activities he couldn’t. Their only regret, they told him, was waiting so long to have the surgery.

Orthopedist Dr. Christopher Brown determined that Richard was a good candidate for knee replacement surgery.

“Dr. Brown said there was no cartilage left. It was all bone.”

Since then, Richard has been moving rapidly ahead toward his new life. Before undergoing knee replacement surgery in November, Richard attended a one-day joint class where a nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist and a pharmacist explained what he should do to prepare for joint replacement surgery, and what to expect afterward. The pharmacist talked about pain management; the therapists discussed important practices that would reduce the risk of pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis – always a risk with surgery.

For those in the class with care partners present, the presenters talked about ways the partners could help before and after surgery. As a widower without family nearby, Richard was prepared to cope without a care partner. He was assured that nurses and therapists would be there to help him every step of the way.

The surgery on Richard’s left knee went well, and the occupational and physical therapists arrived the next morning to evaluate his condition. He was out of bed and putting light pressure on the knee that day. For four days, he received therapy in the hospital twice a day.

Upon being moved the few hundred yards to Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, Richard’s therapy sessions intensified. For years, FHRNC has provided short-term rehabilitation care, in addition to its 24-hour nursing care. Richard was at FHRNC for three weeks, and spent some of his therapy time in the aquatherapy pool.

He smiled wistfully, “I loved that pool. It was lovely and warm in there.”

“When I came out of the pool after an hour, it felt like I had doubled my weight, my legs were so tired. I found the aqua therapists to be highly trained in their field of expertise, friendly and considerate. They provided one-on-one guidance and evaluated my progress daily. They adapted my exercise routines to my progress and I started showing improvements in strength, reduction in pain and better mobility.”

Afternoons at FHRNC were spent at the in-house physical therapy gym, building up the left knee and the muscles around it. “FHRNC was a great transition,” Richard said.

Fauquier Health Rehabilitation and Nursing Center was recently recognized by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities with three-year accreditations for its inpatient rehabilitation services and for its person-centered long term care. Richard saw up close and personal why FHRNC was awarded these hard-to-achieve designations.

He enthused, “They were wonderful to me. If I wanted apple juice at 2 in the morning, I got it. Whatever I needed, they were there.”

He added, “Before I could be discharged, the occupational therapists had to make sure I was going to be able to take care of myself. They took me to the kitchen and asked me to make myself some cocoa. They handed me a packet of cocoa mix and told me to fill a cup with water, mix in the packet and put it in the microwave. I looked at them and said, ‘That’s not cocoa.’ ”

Before leaving FHRNC, Richard showed the staff there how to make cocoa, and another thing or two about cooking, as well. “I gave them $100 and sent them to Giant to buy scallops, shrimp, garlic and penne. I told them, ‘Buy these ingredients and I’ll make you a meal.’ I made a big pot, and it was gone in ten minutes.”

After the three weeks at FHRNC, Richard was able to go home and take care of himself. “I was able to drive myself home,” he said. “That had worried me.”

Richard used a walker at home for a short time after leaving FHRNC, then gave it up for a cane. “The toughest part was changing the litter pan for my cats. I had trouble with that for a while.” But through continued therapy sessions, he worked at building up his strength.

On March 10, Richard underwent joint replacement surgery on his right knee. “It seemed to go better because I was prepared for the routine. Again, I elected to go to FHRNC for rehab and participated in aqua and gym therapy.”

Recovery time was shorter the second time around. Therapy at the Medical Office Building followed his rehabilitation at FHRNC.

Richard recently has joined the LIFE Center, Fauquier Health’s medically-based fitness facility located on Holiday Court, a few minutes from the hospital.

Richard continues to earn the affection of his therapists through their stomachs. “They fell in love with me. I made them a Dutch apple cake that is wonderful, and a black forest cherry cake. Today I made sticky buns.”

Richard said that he feels there is a direct correlation between his joint replacement surgery and his “new way of looking at life. My knees are fully functional, I can move around, and I feel more awake and energetic. I feel great!

“I used to be sitting all the time because of the pain in my knees. I didn’t have the energy to boil an egg, now I’m stripping wallpaper. I can go up and down steps and not be out of breath or in pain.”

Like those he met on the cruise months before, Richard said, “My only regret is that I waited so long to have the surgery.”

Richard has already lost 20 pounds with the added exercise he’s been doing, and has adjusted his gourmet cooking style to include healthy recipes. He claims he’s still got about 50 or 60 pounds to lose. With the help of the staff at the LIFE Center – and his own determination — Richard is certain he’ll reach his goal. He’s looking forward to spending some more active time with his sons and their families – five grandchildren in all.

Learn more about orthopedic surgery on our orthopedic services page.

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