Jim's Story: Back On the Course After Knee Surgery

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

Jim Wendel knew he needed knee replacement surgery. The knee injections he’d been receiving for the last six or seven years to reduce his pain were no longer effective. Surgery was the next step if he wanted to maintain his active lifestyle. 

The 59-year-old thoughtfully calculated a good time for surgery – after golf season. What he didn’t count on was an unexpected injury that led to additional surgeries.

Jim’s surgery saga began in July 2017 when he slipped and tore his ACL playing golf. “I was about 180 yards to the hole and took an aggressive swing with a five wood,” he describes. “I tried not to fall but should have just fallen.”

After a visit to his sports medicine physician of 10 years, Scott Albright, MD, with Premier Orthopedics, part of Premier Physician Network, the two decided to move forward with knee replacement surgery a little sooner than planned due to the ACL injury. 

“Dr. Albright got me in right away,” he says. As vice president of Union Savings Bank in Franklin and a self-described “man of action,” Jim appreciated Dr. Albright’s responsiveness.

“That kind of relationship with a doctor is just priceless,” he says.

Jim chose an orthopedic surgeon from a hospital system unaffiliated with Premier Health. Jim decided to have bilateral knee replacement surgery, which repairs both knees at the same time. However, his recovery did not go as planned.

A Search for Answers

His left knee developed an infection. “About six to eight weeks into my physical therapy, I started backsliding,” he explains, recalling how therapy almost left him in tears from the pain.

In early November, he underwent revision surgery where his surgeon replaced a suspected infected piece of his artificial joint. But Jim’s knee continued to give him trouble. In mid-January, the discomfort grew worse. After a few days, he called Dr. Albright. 

“Once again, he dropped everything and got me in at 7:30 the next morning,” Jim says. Dr. Albright aspirated Jim’s knee and by the next day, called him with news of an infection. They both agreed it was time to move on to another surgeon. Dr. Albright recommended his colleague at Premier Orthopedics, Richard Davis II, MD.

Finally, Relief on the Way

“Once I met him, I felt an immediate connection that he was the man to do the job,” Jim notes. Dr. Davis performed surgery on January 31, 2018, at Atrium Medical Center to remove the entire infected knee joint and replace it with a temporary joint.

Dr. Davis impressed Jim and his wife from the initial consult through follow-up visits to a final surgery on April 25 that gave Jim his permanent knee joint. Recovery from the January surgery went so well that his final surgery was moved up a month. Still, it was Dr. Davis’ bedside manner that meant the most.

“What impressed me most was we prayed before the surgery,” Jim says. 

Pausing and sinking into a whisper, he continued, “I thought, wow, not only is he a good surgeon, but he’s a man of God. I was touched by that.”

Rock Star Doctors

“Here it is one year later,” Jim says. “I’m pain free and moving around better than ever.” 

This summer, he built up to walking nine holes at Wildwood Golf Club, something he hadn’t done for five years. He also frequently walks his dog, Barry, for two miles. 

Jim’s thankful and complimentary of all Premier Orthopedics Middletown office staff involved in his care.

“I’d been there so many times, it was like I was becoming family,” he chuckles. “They’re all caring and courteous. They’re just a great group.”

He calls Drs. Albright and Davis rock stars, commenting on their “marvelous” work. 

“I just wouldn’t think of going anywhere else.”