Hunting for pain relief
Joseph “Joe” Stuter of Elizabeth City, N.C. has been active most of his life: His younger days were filled with softball, baseball, wrestling, soccer, four wheeling and bull riding. In more recent days, the now 68-year-old slowed down a bit, but still was an active hunter. Pain, though, was making his favorite activity difficult.
“I didn’t know it was my hip,” shares Joe. “For the longest time, I thought it was sciatica. It was really hurting in the small of my back, and there were times when I could hardly walk. I tried chiropractic work that didn’t help. An x-ray ordered by my primary care doctor in 2017 finally showed a lot of arthritis in my left hip.”
Joe sought help from Sentara Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Specialists, a division of Albemarle Physician Services. Dr. Dang-Khoa Vo, an orthopedic surgeon, told Joe he was a candidate for a hip replacement.
“He and I hit it off really well. He has a great sense of humor,” says Joe. “When I signed the forms giving him permission to do the surgery, I asked how many of these procedures he had done, and he said ‘Yesterday I did my first knee surgery and when I do your hip, that’ll be my first one.’ I said, ‘Give me that form back!’” Of course, he’s done hundreds of the surgeries and let me know that.”
Dr. Vo was also accommodating with scheduling the surgery: Joe wanted one more chance to hunt, so Dr. Vo waited a few weeks and scheduled him for late November.
The orthopedic surgeons that provide joint replacement surgery, like Dr. Vo, share a philosophy of ensuring patients are comfortable with the process and have the information needed. They take time with patients to ensure they have their questions answered and are well-informed and remain available to answer questions for patients even after they leave the office.
To further patients’ comfort level, Dr. Vo and his staff coordinate with the Sentara OrthoJoint Center® at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, which provides a class for patients and their loved ones undergoing orthopedic surgery.
“We are dedicated to making the whole experience an exceptional one and achieving the best possible outcome,” shares Lesley Scott, RN, a nurse navigator who works directly with patients at the Sentara OrthoJoint Center® at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. “For Mr. Stuter, that meant working around his hunting schedule and getting him back to his favorite hobby as soon as possible. Making sure he and all of our patients receive the best education possible ensures they can properly care for their new joint.”
The class, held shortly before a surgery, presents information on what to expect the day of surgery, during the hospital stay and during recovery, and helpful exercises and tips on how to make the road back to ideal health smooth.
“I especially liked learning about gadgets to pick up items instead of having to bend down early in recovery,” says Joe. “I ordered a seat to sit on in the shower and a walker for getting around.”
After one last painful hunt, Joe completed his surgery at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. He spent only a day in the hospital.
“God answered my prayers and so many others’ who prayed for me ,” says Joe. “God really saw me through the whole process, and I praise him for it: My operation and recovery were quick. I had hardly any pain; I only took Tylenol. They gave me a prescription for something stronger, but I didn’t need it. I had a nurse and physical therapist come for home visits afterwards. They worked with me only one or two days. I was off the walker in one day. Four days after the operation, I was driving my car. Nine days later, I was driving my stick-shift GEO Tracker.”
At his follow-up visit, Joe challenged Dr. Vo to a wrestling match.
“He laughed,” says Joe, “and said ‘Man, you must be feeling better!’”