Looking over their retirement checklist, David and Sharron Knisely had all of their ducks in a row except one: David's left knee. "I'd hurt my knee back in the '70s and had had surgery done on it then," David says. "It had been an issue for a long time."
An issue because, although the surgery had repaired the tear, David's knee was never quite the same. "It had just become more and more of a problem," he tells us. "I could walk fine, but doing stairs or any kind of lateral movement had become increasingly difficult."
Sharron, who was working in Mayo Clinic's Department of Orthopedic Surgery in Florida at the time, urged David to make an appointment with her colleagues. "They told me I really needed to see a surgeon because by that point I had very little cartilage left in my knee," David tells us.
While initially hesitant to explore another knee surgery, David ultimately agreed. "There was one surgeon in particular — Dr. Cedric Ortiguera," David says. "Sharron not only liked him as a surgeon, but also as a person and so she said, 'He's the surgeon you need to see.' He examined me, took some X-rays, looked at them and then said, 'You have one option and that's a total knee replacement.'"
For David, the diagnosis was sobering. But as he considered the retirement plans he and Sharron had worked so hard to put into place, he knew Dr. Ortiguera was right. "We decided we were going to buy a motorhome and spend our retirement years just driving around the country. Like some movie you'd see where people just get rid of all of their stuff and go," David tells us. "I couldn't do any of that with my knee the way it was. So we went ahead and scheduled the knee replacement surgery."
Now almost three years later, David says life has never been better. "Everything with the surgery and recovery went as advertised, so we bought our motorhome and hit the road in January 2017," he says.
Currently it's parked in Waterton Lakes National Park, in Alberta, Canada. David and Sharron have been keeping Dr. Ortiguera up-to-date on their retirement travels through yearly emails and photos, including one recently that relayed a pretty impressive milestone.
"Our daughter gave me a Fitbit before we hit the road, so we've been tracking our miles during our hikes. I got to looking back at it and wondering just how far I've gone on my new knee during these past three years," David says. "That's when I saw that I've taken more than 10 million steps, and walked more than 5,000 miles since my knee replacement surgery." David noted in that email to Dr. Ortiguera he's discovered his new knee "works in Canada, too."
All jokes aside, Dr. Ortiguera tells us it's been great for him to be able to keep tabs on David and his new knee from afar. "His yearly updates have been really inspiring," Dr. Ortiguera says. "The procedure he had done is all about quality of life, and clearly he is making the most of it."
After spending some more time in Canada, David says he, Sharron, and his new knee will "drop down into Montana" before "cutting across" to Sequim, Washington, for the winter. You can follow along with that adventure and more on their Instagram page. Then be sure to leave a comment below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.
Tags: Dr. Cedric Ortiguera, knee replacement, Mayo Clinic in Florida, Orthopedic Surgery, Patient Stories