At age 35, I was married, active, enjoying a new career, and looking forward to life. In the summer of that year – 1989 – that life changed completely. I was diagnosed with an aggressive case of rheumatoid arthritis and I would spend a year-and-a-half bedridden until I fought to regain minor mobility. I was told that my walking days were over and that I would soon be in a wheelchair. Decades of issues with chronic pain and the challenges of being disabled and an invalid followed.
My journey to restoration began in the late summer of 2017. My primary physician in Montgomery recommended that I visit Andrews Sports Medicine to see if anything could be done about the crippling pain in my knees and devastating loss of mobility. They had been virtually destroyed by the rheumatoid arthritis along with eight other joints. After successful anterior hip replacement in January of 2017 here in Montgomery, I was told that I was not a candidate for further joint replacement surgeries. My wife and I were understandably devastated. My family physician refused to accept that prognosis, so I agreed to accept a referral to Andrews.
A friend had experienced great success with a TKR performed by Dr. Jeffrey Davis at Andrews, so I made contact with Davis’ office to request an evaluation. Being essentially invalid and having been unable to travel for several years, my wife and I had no idea how we would even get to Birmingham to even meet the doctor. A 200-mile round-trip seemed impossible for us. We relied on God’s grace to provide, and He did so every step of the way.
With God’s provision, my wife and I arrived at Andrews Sports Medicine several weeks later and were immediately impressed with the clinic’s atmosphere. The staff was kind, professional, and assuring. We were immediately comfortable and at ease. I was thoroughly x-rayed and examined, and shortly my wife and I were consulting with Dr. Davis’ P.A., Katie Beckham. She listened intently and patiently while I sat in my wheelchair and explained my plight. She then advised that the doctor would, of course, make the final decision about treatment, but she felt like something definitely could be done to grant me some relief from the chronic, 24/7 pain and loss of mobility. My wife and I were immediately relieved.
Moments later, Dr. Davis appeared and immediately impressed us with his calm, assured demeanor. I expressed that the entire facility inspired feelings of confidence and positivity. He shared that they worked diligently to foster just such an atmosphere. He listened more than he spoke, and eventually said he felt I would be one of the toughest cases he had ever treated but that he was confident that he could restore some degree of mobility in my knees and increase my quality of life through joint replacements – which I had been told by others that I could never have. My wife was so moved and relieved that she began softly crying! God is so good!
We thoroughly discussed the complexity of replacing two knees within a matter of weeks of each other, and after agreeing that I would reduce my weight to get my BMI below an acceptable level, we all agreed to proceed with the first Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery as soon as possible. My wife and I were thrilled but also apprehensive and anxious.
The weeks between that visit and my first surgery were filled with a myriad of appointments for scans, lab work, registration, etc., and I called the clinic at least two dozen times with endless questions. Each and every time, Dr. Davis’ staff members were incredibly understanding, patient, and thorough in addressing my issues and concerns. I still find it hard to believe how much each of these wonderful people continue to exhibit the spirit of Christ in their work everyday!
The big day arrived at last, and from the patient’s point of view, everything went smoothly. From the moment we arrived at valet parking, the staff exceeded every one of our expectations. After recovery, I learned that Dr. Davis was correct and that the procedure had been exceptionally challenging and difficult, partially due to my soft bone structure. But because of his years of training and experience, the assistance of his outstanding P.A., Katie Beckham, along with God’s merciful guidance, Davis was able to succeed where others would not even make the attempt. When he shared the news of successful surgery with my wife, she again cried tears of joy!
My three-day stay at St. Vincent’s was both wonderful and agonizing. Every single nurse, technician, and staff member took superb care of me and met my every need. The pain, however, especially with physical therapy, was intense. (Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: the leg pain with TKR surgery is brutal! The knee doesn’t hurt, but the muscles and nerves make up for it. It quickly gets better, though, I promise you.) My therapists were patient but determined, and we made it through those initial days quite well.
I transferred to a rehab hospital in Montgomery for a ten-day stay, then briefly went home where I received physical therapy for about another ten days. Dr. Davis recommended we tackle the right TKR as soon as possible, so exactly four weeks to the day after receiving my new left knee, he replaced the right one. I told people I was either really brave or really crazy – or both! Actually, I was desperate.
The second Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery was another resounding success, and as soon as I awakened out of recovery, I was thrilled to discover yet again that my knee pain was completely gone! After living in agony with R.A. for 28 years, I was completely without pain in these two critical joints! My wife and I are still amazed at the miracle of these two month-apart surgeries which were both completed with zero complications.
The second recovery routine was exactly the same as the first: three days at St. Vincent’s, 10 days at the rehab hospital, followed by home physical therapy. I worked hard, grew stronger every day, and was determined to rehabilitate my legs as quickly and thoroughly as possible. In our initial meeting Dr. Davis said that my rehabilitation process could take as long as nine months because of underlying health issues. I agreed to commit myself to the task but, of course, was hoping to finish somewhat sooner. I was completely on board with every challenge because I was excited and optimistic about my future.
I started outpatient therapy a few weeks following the second surgery and found the two-hour workouts painful, challenging, and yet enjoyable. I also continued to work out at home on my “off” days each week. Through determination and persistence and diligence – guided by thoroughly-skilled therapists during every phase of my recovery – I exceeded the expectations of Dr. Davis, his P.A., Katie, and everyone else who worked with me. The “miracle” of my two new knees kept me going on some very tough days.
“Discharge Day” at Andrews, six-and-a-half weeks after the second surgery, was a jubilant celebration with lots of excitement. For the first time ever, I was pleased to walk into the clinic instead of being wheeled in. I stood smiling face-to-face with Dr. Davis and gave him an outstanding report from the director of my physical therapy facility. Dr. Davis told me that I had exceeded his expectations and had made remarkable progress: “I’m proud of you, man!” He discharged me from his care and said, “Go live your life!” My wife, again, cried tears of joy!
I will continue to enjoy and use these remarkable pain-free knees for the rest of my life. Dr. Davis and his staff not only gave me back two inches in height (my knees were bent for decades by the R.A.), he – more importantly -- restored enjoyment and quality to my life. I am once again able to enjoy living and walking and no longer feel anguish and torturous pain with each step I take. My surgeon and his entire team have made every day exciting and adventurous as I am able to again enjoy activities I gave up decades ago.
I extend my sincere gratitude to everyone who took part in the process of restoring my life. Thanks to the whole team, I’ve experienced a true miracle! I appreciate everyone involved for being an instrument of God’s healing power, and offer my unending thanks.