Brenda Rowley: Total Knee Replacement

“I was camping with my family and couldn’t bend my knee enough to get in and out of the canoe. I refuse to be limited by pain.”

In her 30-year nursing career, Brenda Rowley has spent countless hours on her feet. She also ran track in high school and was an avid water skier—all of which has taken a toll on her joints and caused significant pain in her left knee. 

Brenda tried various treatment options, including injections to increase mobility and arthroscopy—a procedure in which a tiny camera is inserted into the knee joint to repair or remove damaged tissue. She realized, however, that she would eventually require a total knee replacement.

The turning point came last summer, Brenda said. “I was camping with my family and couldn’t bend my knee enough to get in and out of the canoe. I refuse to be limited by pain.”

Soon afterward, Brenda went to see orthopaedic surgeon Khawaja Ikram, DO, to discuss knee-replacement. “I remembered that he had operated on my sister-in-law about 10 years ago,” Brenda recalled. “He’d briefly met our family, then returned to the room later in the day and remembered all our names. I was impressed with his attentiveness.”

Dr. Ikram confirmed that Brenda’s left knee had deteriorated to the point where total joint replacement was her best option. Brenda came to Henry Ford Allegiance Health for an orientation class about the surgery and what to expect during her hospital stay and recovery. She also toured the Joint Camp—a special area of the hospital designated for knee and hip replacement patients. “The class was really helpful to me and my family, because we were all worried about my surgery,” Brenda said.

Brenda had once experienced a severe allergic reaction to a local anesthetic. “So I was extremely nervous going in this time,” she said. “But I spoke with both Dr. Ikram and the anesthesiologist before surgery, and they assured me they would avoid that anesthetic. They took the time to answer questions from my husband and two daughters, as well, and that put us all at ease.”

Brenda also appreciated the attentive nursing care she received at the Joint Camp. “The staff is specialized in this area of care, so they understand the unique needs and challenges of patients with knee and hip replacements. They are compassionate and knowledgeable and made me feel they were really listening to my concerns,” Brenda said.

After completing physical therapy at the hospital and at home, Brenda is back to work and feeling better than she has in years. “I would advise joint replacement patients to accept any extra physical therapy that might be offered to them,” she said. “It definitely makes a difference.”

Eight weeks after her knee-replacement, Brenda went to the Sandhill Lighthouse on Lake Superior and was able to climb 100 stairs, plus a ladder to the top. “The view was so wonderful I did it twice,” she said. “That never would have been possible before my surgery.”

With renewed energy and free of knee pain, Brenda looks forward to opening the family camping trailer on Lake George this spring.

Exercise may help relieve stiffness, reduce pain and fatigue, and improve muscle and bone strength in arthritic joints.