Being there for My Patients

My name is Rosemarie Morris and #thisismyknee

Sometimes in life, even if you know what’s coming you might not be prepared for how it feels. In my time as a hospice chaplain in Fort Worth, Texas, I’ve watched families crumble as their terminally ill loved ones slip away. Some of my patients faced late stage cancer with little hope, while others battled a devastating illness for years and eventually lost the will to keep fighting. For all of them, I do my best to offer spiritual guidance in their time of need and help families face many difficult decisions involved in making funeral arrangements and planning for many other challenges. It is never an easy process, and it is impossible to not be affected myself. But I never doubted my ability to help until my own health problems forced me to take a step back.

At 57 years old, my arthritis was getting worse and the pain became unbearable in my knees. I was walking crooked and could barely make it down a hall to get to patients who so desperately needed me. My job became more taxing and it showed. I feared the families I was trying to help could see the strain on my face. In this job I needed to focus my energy on their pain – not my own – but it was increasingly difficult. I wondered whether they could sense that I was struggling. The uncertainty drove me to seek help, and I decided to consider a knee replacement.

I knew if my pain progressed any further I might be wheelchair bound. I needed to act fast. A friend referred me to Dr. Bruce Bollinger at Custom Joint Center. I was nervous going into the appointment. I had friends with knee replacements who were dependent on pain medication to function, and I didn’t want that for myself. Dr. Bollinger understood my fears and said a Conformis knee might be my best option. The replacement would be created using 3D models of my own knee, ensuring a custom-made fit.
I had surgery in December 2016, and was up and walking down the hospital halls soon after. I knew I made the right choice during outpatient physical therapy. I looked around the room and saw many people with off-the-shelf implants struggling to complete the exercises I was breezing through. Of course, I encouraged the others to keep pushing on. It made me feel good to think my words might have helped them, and it also reminded me how much I enjoyed my work helping others. I was eager to return and start making an impact again.
I came back to my old role feeling like a new person – with a new level of dedication to helping people who really need me. It is wonderful to be able to drive to my patient’s homes without any pain. I have no trouble climbing the stairs or walking on gravel driveways to get to them. Once again, I can spend my time thinking about their needs rather than my own pain.

I have since referred three friends to Dr. Bollinger and told them about my Conformis knee, and I tell them that they cannot prepare for how good it will feel to take steps to end their pain. And I see it every day in the families I work with. My job is more satisfying than ever because I am back to giving 100% – and my patients can see it!

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