At Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance, our number one priority is our patients. We all take great pride in hearing that our patients are happy with the care we provide. Discover what our patients have to say regarding their office visit, surgical experience or recovery process.
Swimming Through Recovery
Meet avid hiker, skillful canoeist, and competitive swimmer, Peter Fechheimer. Obviously, this energetic 72-year-old is quite the athlete. Along with spending time with his wife, granddaughter, and flat coat retriever, Winnie, Peter loves to train and compete in swim meets, like the U.S. Masters Swimming Events and the Senior Olympics. But after decades of defying pain, one thing eventually pried Peter away from his passions – his left knee.
Peter had been a candidate for knee replacement surgery for about ten years, but was advised to first try using a knee brace to manage pain. Luckily, wearing the brace allowed Peter to temporarily table his knee pain and to uphold his active lifestyle. For ten years, his brace kept hurt away during long-distance hikes, challenging canoe trips, and competitive swimming. But the time came when Peter’s pain outgrew the knee brace. “When it became painful to get around the house or go on walks with my wife, I realized that it was time for surgery.”
On May 14, 2013, Peter underwent knee replacement surgery from Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance’s Dr. Philip Karpos, who Peter deems “An excellent surgeon with a wonderful bedside manner.” With Peter’s athletic lifestyle, Dr. Karpos knew a successful knee replacement surgery meant more than ensuring Peter could walk without pain again. Peter needed to participate in a very physically demanding sport at a competitive level. Dr. Karpos prevailed, and within weeks of surgery, Peter sprung into action once again.
“What was most satisfying was the speed of my recovery and the fact that I could get back to swimming so quickly.” Before his knee replacement, Peter asked Dr. Karpos if he could be ready to compete in a swim meet on June 25, six weeks after his operation. Dr. Karpos told Peter it was possible if he committed to his physical therapy.
As instructed, Peter tore through his physical therapy exercises, and his hard work showed. Four weeks after surgery, Dr. Karpos said Peter could get back in the pool for walking exercises. After a few days of these exercises, Peter started to swim, and was soon able to ease into his normal training routine.
On June 25, just six weeks to the day after his knee replacement, Peter competed in the Tennessee Senior Olympics. “I feel very fortunate to have recovered so quickly. I didn’t have all of my speed or endurance back, but the fact that I could even compete that soon was a big thrill.”
Nashville Artist Has Her Life Back
Lisa Aronow describes herself as a metalsmith, a jewelry designer, a biker (vintage Raleighs) and a wannabe bon vivant. She is filled with spirit and passion, and many of her customers say her jewelry represents that spirit. Lisa has been designing jewelry in Nashville for more than 12 years. She says her high-karat gold and sterling silver pieces are wearable, every day pieces, with a vintage or estate look.
"Women wear my pieces with everything from shorts and t-shirts to formal gowns; you shouldn't need a special occasion to enjoy your jewelry."
Lisa says she comes by her talent naturally; she spent much of her childhood working at her father's jewelry store and learning about antiques and estate jewelry from her mother. Her parents still live in Augusta, Georgia, where Lisa grew up.
Today, Lisa is running from appointment to appointment, and getting ready for a new collection to launch. She is busy, but says she feels like a "freakin' rock star."
That wasn't the case a few years ago. Lisa's active lifestyle caught up with her after three years of debilitating back pain. "I used to snow ski a lot, and I had a bad fall. I also fell down steps moving into my first place in Nashville." It was a series of accidents like these that led the 43-year-old to Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance.
"I suffered constant back and leg pain for more than two years. I couldn't even get up. When you have that kind of severe pain, it can become very debilitating both mentally and physically, especially if you are used to going and doing lots of things. It was the most unbearable thing I ever experienced in my life."
Lisa says she waited too long to address her back issues. "I had so much damage; it took me a while to come around to the fact of what I really needed. I had other surgeries, I did acupuncture, massage therapy, but nothing ever worked."
That's when Lisa's quest to find a surgeon began. "It didn't matter to me if he was local, or in New York. I just wanted to find the best spine surgeon I could find. I had so much nerve damage. I had crushed vertebrae in my back, and it was pressing against the nerve in my spinal column, creating problems from my back down to my toes. I knew that if I waited any longer to correct the damage, I could be dragging my right foot one day. I knew I needed minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery."
Lisa didn't have to look very far to find the best surgeon for her spine issues. "Dr. Juris Shibayama in Murfreesboro is very highly regarded. I chose to see him based on the recommendations from his colleagues. He has an incredible talent.
I spent five hours on the operating table while Dr. Shibayama untangled my nerve. I was actually walking that same afternoon, without the usual pain. It was pretty significant. Shortly after my surgery I remember getting on the treadmill for 45 minutes. It was a huge deal."
Lisa and Dr. Shibayama are still friends. "He is one of the sweetest people you can imagine.
He is so intelligent, warm and compassionate, and has a wonderful sense of humor. I'm crazy about him, he saved my life, in a way. And he's so smart and fun; he even texted me a year after my surgery to say happy anniversary!"
"I gladly share my experience with others. I tell them not to give up. You don't have to live with pain and physical limitations. I thought that for so long, and accepted that. Today, I feel like I have my life back because of the work he did. It's been divine intervention."
My Husband Has His Wife Back
Juanita Cook is an active, healthy, 59 year-old Columbia resident, who just started a new walking program, loves her family, and is grateful for being pain-free.
She spends most days being a caregiver to her 90-year-old blind mother, 83-old-year mother and father-in-law, and Sadie, her precious 7-month old granddaughter.
Not to mention, she’s been happily married to Johnny Cook for the past 41 years.
But three years ago she started feeling pain in her lower back. “This pain didn’t allow me to rest at night, it was hard to sit, walk, and stand. Running was out of the question, going up and down steps painful, getting up and down in a chair, or on the couch were painful and daily activitieswere very limited. Eventually even personal hygiene was difficult,” said Cook.
“I tried pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapyand quarterlysteroid injections.” Unfortunately, these measures only provided Juanita temporary relief. Her sacroiliac joint needed repair.
Hope came for Juanita when she discovered apromising new minimally invasive procedure offered by Tennessee Orthopaedic Alliance’s Dr. Gray Stahlman.
“I was so grateful to find this new option; my face read ‘pain’ with most movements before this surgery.I thank my Lord for leading me to the only specialist in this area, Dr. Gray Stahlman, who God has gifted with the ability to do this precise procedure that has given me my life back. I also thank Dr. Stahlman for doing this procedure for the first time at Williamson Medical Center (WMC), which is where my husband works. I cannot praise both Dr. Stahlman and WMC for the excellent care I received during my surgery and subsequent recovery.”
Today, Juanita exclaims, “Since the surgery, my life has radically changed for the better. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I have my normal life back. My husband has his wife back and my goal was to be able to enjoy my family again. Three months following my ‘miracle surgery’ my first grandchild was born. I have been able to pick her up, move to care for her, and play with her. This would not have been possible without this amazing surgical procedure. Now, my face radiates with joy instead of pain. I truly believe without this surgery, I would be unable to care for myself or anyone else.”
Marla Mabin’s career as a pre-school teacher requires a considerable amount of bending, working on the floor, and moving around to interact with little ones ─ an often difficult task for even the healthiest of adults. But with monstrous back pain looming, these tasks became impossible.
Marla’s severe pain began at work, when she moved a sleeping four-year-old out of the way from several children who were playing nearby. All of a sudden, she heard a loud “pop” from her lower back. Over the next few days, the extent of her injury began to make itself known, as Marla experienced swelling and numbness in her legs, feet, toes, and lower back. The pain grew to be so terrible that she was unable to walk without a cane or some sort of support. She could not even get out of bed or take a shower without assistance. “I was in pain constantly and immobile more often than not.” Ceaseless pain and complete dependency upon others led Marla into a depression, which in combination with her lack of mobility, resulted in her gaining more than 75 pounds.
When Marla decided “enough was enough,” she turned to Dr. Gray Stahlman of Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance to reclaim the life she deserved. Dr. Stahlman removed half the disc that was causing a bilateral impingement, and the results were immediate. With her mobility and balance back, Marla says she finally was able to regain her independence. The effects went beyond allowing her to move again; Marla could do all the things she enjoyed, like camping, hiking, and working out. After her operation, Marla lost more than 90 pounds, and at 40 years old, is now in the best shape of her life. Today, she is training for her first women’s figure skating competition, a feat that would have been unthinkable before her procedure.
Marla describes her experience with Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance as amazing, and she appreciates the warm care she received from Dr. Stahlman. “From the moment we met, he immediately set me and my husband at ease with his comforting smile and his smooth, educational approach. The actual surgery and recovery were much easier than I’d anticipated, and he was there each step of the way.” Before her operation, incessant back pain forced Marla to surrender control of her life, but Dr. Stahlman showed Marla and her family hope ─ that pain could be lifted, that mobility could be restored, and that life could continue in its fullest form.
Dear Dr. Rungee
Just one year after being released to run after an ACL reconstruction and recovery, here I am crossing the finish line of a full, 26.2 mile marathon.
Here's to another successful surgery in your medical records! Thanks so much!!!