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Debbie Clark: Knee Surgery

Debbie Clark, orthopaedics patient at UPMC in north central Pa.

For many Coloradoans, skiing, rock climbing, biking, or hiking are the perfect ways to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.

For Debbie Clark, it was camping with her family. As a teenager in the late 1970s, she recalls it to be more of a primitive or dedicated style of mountain life.

There weren’t any bathrooms when we went camping. We wouldn’t even take water with us, we got it right out of the creek."

Debbie still loves to go camping, but with a few major equipment upgrades such as a tent and blow-up mattress. However, even with these new enhancements, Debbie started to face a new challenge when camping. The gear she now needed wasn’t available at sporting goods stores; it was a new knee.

'Knee’ding More

After moving to Williamsport with her husband, Ronnie, a Lewisburg native, about five years ago, Debbie quickly became connected to UPMC. Unfortunately, she has not been a stranger to health care systems.

“I don’t look unhealthy, but I have been through a lot.”

Not only is she a breast cancer survivor, but she has also had parts of her colon and kidney removed. Of all the surgeries that Debbie has endured, she said the prospect of knee surgery was the “scariest one” in terms of the process and recovery.

For two years, Debbie received injections in her knees to help ease her pain and simultaneously avoided her active lifestyle. She couldn’t go to the grocery store or even walk up and down the stairs in her home without assistance, let alone go camping. When her pain went from manageable to unbearable overnight, she knew she needed something more.

Debbie made an appointment to see the doctor who had been giving her the injections for her knees to discuss moving forward with a replacement. She knew he was on the edge of retirement, but she still wanted the consultation before making the decision of surgery final. That’s when Debbie was introduced to Kyle Hubler, DO, orthopaedic surgeon, at UPMC Williamsport.

“Dr. Hubler spent approximately a half hour or 45 minutes with me, even without a scheduled appointment,” says Debbie. “He explained the surgery, how it would be done, how long it would take, and what the recovery would be like. I was really impressed.”

That same day, Debbie scheduled her surgery with Dr. Hubler.

Preparing for Surgery

Debbie had less than a month to emotionally prepare for this life-changing surgery. She fell victim to looking up other people’s experiences with knee replacements online, which left her feeling even more uneasy.

According to Debbie, one of the biggest things that Dr. Hubler helped her through was telling her to avoid “Doctor Google.”

“Debbie had some concerns and hesitation related to surgery,” said Dr. Hubler. “While the internet can be a useful tool, nothing is better than consulting with your doctor. With her active lifestyle, I knew she’d be a great candidate for surgery. It came down to listening to her concerns, acknowledging any risks, and helping her fully understand her case and how the surgery could impact her life.”

Dr. Hubler and Crystal Loose, PA-C, continued to support Debbie by explaining what to expect for her time of recovery. They told Debbie she would likely go home the day after surgery. They advised her to sleep in her own bed, change out of her hospital clothes as soon as possible, and try to remain in her regular routine of normal life. Debbie’s uneasiness crept back in with the expectation to stay one night at the hospital, but Dr. Hubler and Crystal listened to Debbie and put her at ease by allowing her to have a say in her post-surgery care.

New Knee, New Me

Of the entire knee replacement surgery process, Debbie was the most apprehensive about her period of recovery. Within a few hours after her surgery, she was up and walking to the bathroom when needed, and started physical therapy right away.

“It was easier than I expected,” says Debbie. With the help of her support system, Debbie was even working from home within a week.

About eight months after her surgery, Debbie is feeling better than ever. Now, she’s excited to go camping again this summer. Debbie is also excited that she will be able to travel to Colorado to visit her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

We'll Help You Stay Active

Our orthopaedic team offers the latest therapies and the most advanced treatments to care for a wide array of conditions to help you heal. Learn more about UPMC Orthopaedic Care in north central Pa. or call 570-321-2020.