Nanette, age 56, had a Zimmer knee replacement in March 2009, and her recovery seemed to be on track. She went to physical therapy and did everything by the book: after a few weeks she graduated from a walker to walking with a cane; she was able to cook for herself, take a shower and more or less get on with daily life.
But her recovery was short-lived. In the summer of 2010, Nanette started to get a lot of pain right around the NexGen knee replacement, and shooting pain down her leg. She was told it would take a year to recuperate, so these symptoms were troubling, to say the least. “By that time I was walking with a slight limp and my walking was definitely deteriorating—I also suffer from arthritis,” says Nanette. She was taking three different kinds of pain medication, but nothing was working. (She now suffers from intestinal problems and acid reflux from the meds).
“Not only was I disappointed with the surgery, I had anger and resentment toward my doctor—at this time I had no idea that the Zimmer knee replacement could be defective,” Nanette adds. “I also figured that my doctor wasn’t going to help me any further, mainly because of my medical insurance and I became discouraged.” But Nanette’s attitude toward her surgeon took an about-turn when she saw an ad on TV about the Zimmer knee replacement recall.
“Right away I thought that my Zimmer knee was defective, that I had one of those that were on the recall list,” she says, “but I was afraid of having another surgery. Maybe it wasn’t defective and I just had to live with it—I didn’t know what to think.”
But the complications with her knee replacement didn’t go away. She had x-rays and her doctor found a large build up of scar tissue—he said that was causing the pain since 2010—so Nanette had laser surgery to remove the scar tissue.
In December 2011 she visited her family in Mississippi but this time the pain came back with a fury—it was like a sharp knife digging into her leg. “It almost made me crippled and I was doing a whole lot of crying, begging God to help me because I was getting scared,” Nanette says.
Nanette’s daughter took her to ER. She had an x-ray and ultrasound but nothing untoward showed up. Unfortunately, she was in a small town and the hospital didn’t accept her out-of-state insurance, so she couldn’t get a CT Scan or MRI. Instead, she just got a prescription for more pain killers.
“I came back home to Los Angeles in February and scheduled an appointment with my doctor,” says Nanette. “I was in tears in his office as I told him something was very wrong. He was about to give me a cortisone shot (I’ve had them before for my arthritis) but this time I looked at the needle going into my knee and blood started coming into the syringe. This had never happened before. He knew something was wrong and then pus was also in the syringe. ‘I can’t give you this injection because it looks like you have an infection,’ he said.
“Next up, I had blood tests at the hospital and I had a strep infection in my leg. How did I get that? My doctor asked if I had a bladder infection or any kind of infection in the last few months. Negative. Then I remembered that I caught a few colds in December. That was probably how it happened; the infection had traveled down to my leg. My doctor said that metal attracts infection and my metal-on-metal Zimmer knee had to come out.
“He said it was a life-threatening infection; it was very powerful and was moving very fast throughout my body and I needed to have surgery right away. As soon as Medical approved it, I was back in the hospital. They took out the Zimmer knee but didn’t take out the scar tissue. He didn’t put another metal knee back in because metal attracts infection. Instead they put an antibiotic piece of cement called a spacer inside my leg to temporarily substitute for the knee.
“When I was in the hospital I really thought I was going to die, I was that scared. The doctors and nurses looked so bewildered and sorry for me. I looked at the expressions in their faces and knew this was something very serious. My doctor didn’t even tell me how bad it was until I talked to him a few weeks later.
“I trusted my orthopedic surgeon—he has been my doctor since 2004. I came home with a pic line in my arm so the antibiotics could be given through IV. I was receiving three powerful antibiotics for the next two months and a nurse came in every day to administer it, to make sure it was getting to me correctly.
“By May I was off the antibiotics. It took a long time to get a replacement knee because of a discrepancy with my insurance – I had to wait until the end of July. But this time I got a Stryker ceramic knee, which was apparently more flexible and no metal. I since found out about these metal-on-metal knee and hip replacements. Why didn’t I get a ceramic one in the first place?”
Nanette says she is slowly getting better but she has to use a walker to get around. Her doctor said her recovery will take longer because of so much trauma after three knee surgeries. She adds that this last surgery took four hours due to so much scar tissue caused by the Zimmer knee.
READ MORE ZIMMER NEXGEN LEGAL NEWS
“An attorney from LawyersandSettlements called me last week and asked if the Zimmer knee was broken when my surgeon took it out, so now I have to get my medical records. If it was broken I have a Zimmer NexGen lawsuit. I have an appointment with my surgeon next week and at that time I will inquire about getting my medical records. My attorney also told me to call the hospital for my surgical records, and if they won’t give them to me, he can help.”