Debi is fully recovered and feeling better than ever

Debi Henry is used to being in the hospital. As an epidural resource nurse, she's seen all types of patients. When the pain in her knees became so severe it interfered with her work and quality of life, she chose to have bi-lateral (that is, both) knee replacement surgery at Abbott Northwestern Hospital's Joint Replacement Center. Having full confidence in her surgeon, nurses and other caretakers, the only question was how she would handle being in the hospital bed rather than beside it.

After making up her mind to have the surgery, she and Mike, her husband and coach-to-be, attended a class that prepared them for what to expect during their time at the Joint Replacement Center and Debi's recovery at home.

According to Debi, the greatest care component of the Joint Replacement Center is the group emphasis. Group activities, therapy and support all contribute to the patient's mindset, which has a positive impact on recovery. "At my first therapy session, I could barely move," Debi said. "Seeing another patient who had had the same surgery as me up and walking on day three of her recovery was really motivating." It helped her to hear that others were having the same struggles and triumphs as she was.

During her stay, she struck up a friendship with another patient who also had bilateral knee replacement. They exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch a few times a week after they went home. Having a new friend to lean on and compare notes with was a welcome and unexpected outcome of her hospital stay.

The joint care coordinator and other staff from the Joint Replacement Center prepared Coach Mike to make Debi's recovery as quick and painless as possible. "Because of her independent nature and being a nurse, Debi is used to taking care of herself," Mike commented. "It sounds strange, but being her coach was the first time in our marriage that I felt she really needed me. She couldn't have done this without me and it's a great feeling to know I helped - we did this together." From being with her every day for therapy sessions to keeping her on track with her therapy at home, Mike's coaching helped Debi every step of the way. He even built a tray for her walker so she could transport important items - ice packs and Diet Coke® - around their house.

Today, Debi is fully recovered and feeling better than ever. "I had learned to take the pain and let it slow me down. What a difference now - I only have mild post-operative healing discomfort. I'm telling everyone I see about the program."

As for her friend, his recovery went well, too. Laughing, Debi said, "He went on a vacation in California. Here I am back at work. I'm looking forward to giving him some grief about that when he gets back."

Debi Henry stands in a medical facility hallway, dressed in nurse's scrubs.