Gina (not her real name) is hesitant because the Zimmer Knee Replacement surgery she had back in 2007 was so painful, and unsuccessful. And her surgeon is hesitant.
“I am still under my doctor’s care from the Zimmer knee surgery,” Gina says. “He is afraid to do revision surgery because he thinks it could worsen rather than stabilize. I have been living with a deep pain that goes from the top of my knee to mid-calf and it is always swollen. When my doctor presses on my knee, there are pockets of pain worse than others. He says there is more fluid there (he took it out once) but is reluctant to do it again. As for range of motion, I can hardly bend my leg. I am not supposed to lift, pull, push, climb or crawl. But I cry, sometimes a lot.”
Gina, age 62, had an injury at work back in 1991, when she was much too young to have a knee replacement. In hindsight, she was better off with physical therapy and pain management than living with a Zimmer Knee implant.
“After my accident, my doctor and therapist thought that over time the healing process would cause my knee to stabilize, but instead it got worse,” says Gina. “I had to stay at work to save my home but my job involved a lot of walking on hard surfaces.” For the first six months after her accident, Gina was able to get around on a cart: she worked as a prison administrator and each day she had to walk more than a mile, but the cart agreement with Workers Comp ended and after that she was on crutches. “Every day I came home from work with a knee that had ballooned with so much wear and tear; it was getting worse because I wasn’t supposed to put that much stress on it.”
Gina’s doctor finally said there was no other recourse than surgery. He got the Zimmer NexGen approved by Workers’ Comp. “I came out of surgery, had a few weeks of therapy and went back to work,” Gina explains. “But I wasn’t supposed to walk that far so I was forced to retire and file for social security disability.
“My life changed severely after this surgery. I try not to take painkillers; instead I prefer to stay home and bear it out. I see a lot more of my recliner chair and TV; most of my shoes will never be worn again. And I am afraid of going out: right after the knee surgery I fell and it really spooked me - I am afraid of falling again.
“As for revision surgery, my surgeon is not sure if this Zimmer knee is defective. Other than going back inside and looking, he said that it seems to be in the right position - I had an x-ray last month. Last year I had a procedure to test for arthritis: another doctor took out a small part of my vein behind my ear. They did find arthritis but cannot determine if it is throughout my body. So is this knee pain a result of arthritis or is it because there is something wrong with the device?
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“Next up, I contacted a few personal injury attorneys. Apparently, determining whether you are eligible for a Zimmer NexGen claim has to do with doctor reports; most claimants have had revision surgery and some people have had several revisions!
“I don’t want to have another surgery because it is so painful, but I am not happy with my life the way it is. I was always outgoing, but now I don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. When I woke up this morning, I just knew that today I won’t be able to drive; sometimes my leg goes into a spasm and I have to pull over. So I am caught between a rock and a hard place - whether or not to have another surgery.
I don’t know where to turn. I just pray.