In Her Own Words

From Wheelchair to Walking Again …
Thanks to FHN Orthopaedics

Haga clic aquí para leer la historia de Amalia en español

Amalia Viveros prepares Mexican specialties for her family at her son’s home in Dakota.
Cooking is one of her favorite activities, and she missed it when she was in a wheelchair.

When Amalia Viveros came to visit her son Ramon in Dakota, he was concerned about both her physical and emotional well-being. Suffering with osteoarthritis in her knees for about five years, she was in a great deal of pain. Steroid injections had not helped much and her condition had deteriorated to the point that walking was nearly impossible. Confined to a wheelchair, she was feeling depressed about her lack of mobility and frustrated that she could no longer cook or care for herself. Ramon decided to bring her to FHN for a consult with Kevin Draxinger, MD, who gave Amalia the best prescription of all: Hope.

After imaging showed ‘bone on bone’ in both knees, Dr. Draxinger discussed total knee replacement surgery with Amalia and Ramon, recommending a traditional approach using intramedullary alignment methods. “He felt confident the surgery could get Mom back on track,” shares Ramon. “Being in a wheelchair had a huge impact on her emotionally, and we were encouraged that surgery was an option.”

A Good Match

Amalia and Ramon were both pleased with their consult and with the professional help that they received from everyone at FHN, especially Dr. Draxinger. His personal approach gave Amalia the support she needed to move forward.

“I was very comfortable with him right away,” says Amalia, a Spanish-speaking woman who relies on her son to translate for her most of the time.* “I was not 100 percent convinced that surgery was the right thing for me until I met him. He was very knowledgeable and he just gave me confidence that surgery was my way back to independence.”

A Team Effort

Amalia chose Kate Ehlbeck, DO, who sees patients at the FHN Family Healthcare Center – Highland View Drive in Freeport, as her primary care provider. Dr. Elhbeck coordinated Amalia’s pre-op exam and explained concerns about her diabetes and high blood pressure, which would keep her in the hospital an extra day or two after the procedure. The Viveros’ appreciated Dr. Ehlbeck’s expert and compassionate care, and were impressed with Samantha from that office, as well, a nurse who was especially supportive and friendly. Ramon also received helpful assistance from Orthopaedic Nurse Navigator Keri Wall, on whom he relied to guide the family through surgical processes and insurance issues, as well as provide additional support.

When the day came, Amalia was not nervous. "I was ready to feel better. Dr. Draxinger motivated me and helped me feel calm and relaxed. Everybody at the hospital did a good job caring for me, and I even stood up the day of my knee replacement."

A Successful Outcome – ‘As If It Was Meant to Be’

Ramon feels thankful his mom was “in the right place at the right time.” He states, “I am so happy she was here with me for this period of time. It is as if it was meant to be … she is just comfortable with Dr. Draxinger and FHN. We look forward to her second surgery in a few months.”

Now, with her right leg feeling strong and pain-free, Amalia is thrilled to feel more independent and resume her hobbies: Cooking, travel, and being outdoors.

According to Ramon, “Mom can walk again and is back in the kitchen serving up her homemade specialties – she is a master at preparing Mexican food. Soon she will visit my brother in San Antonio and after the other knee is replaced, she can start thinking about additional trips, including a gathering in her hometown of Zamora, Michoacán, Mexico. She loves to see new places, and thanks to FHN, she will have that opportunity. She is enjoying her mobility and feeling happier again. We are so grateful.”