Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations

My name is Terry Wright and #thisismyknee

My wife and I never stop moving. We both live in Las Vegas where we manage our photography business and juggle our five children. I also work with Farmers Insurance and regularly travel to natural disaster zones to deliver insurance information to impacted communities. My latest trip involved driving to Santa Rosa to help families who lost their homes in the devastating California wildfires. The work can be emotionally draining, but it was never physically exhausting until recently.

I experienced mild pain in both my knees for years, but I eventually began to have difficulty standing for long periods of time or getting up from a seated position. Taking time away from work wasn’t an option, so I would grit my teeth and try to draw inspiration from those around me who were moving ahead despite their own struggles. For more than a year I wrestled with serious pain. I underwent eight surgeries to clean out damaged cartilage in my knees, tried cortisone shots and took pain pills. When nothing worked, I took it a step further and stopped taking part in my favorite activities including Aikido, a Japanese form of martial arts. I went from practicing several times a week after work to sitting on my couch with ice packs on my knees. That lack of activity also began seeping into other parts of my life. I stopped walking the dog with my wife and family outings became distant memories. It was like I could no longer participate in my own life and was simply watching it pass me by. It wasn’t until I explained my situation to a friend that I felt a glimmer of hope.

She works for Conformis and explained that the company makes knee replacements specific to the patient anatomy using 3D printing technology. She said a detailed map of my knee would be created using my CAT scan images. A 3D printer would then develop a wax replica of my knee and metal components of my replacement would be created around each replica. At 60 years old, I decided it was time to consult a doctor.

Dr. Robert Tait with Joint Replacement Center at the Orthopaedic Institute of Henderson laid out all my options. He explained that I was a candidate for the Conformis replacement and that both my knees were in bad shape. He knew I wanted to get back to practicing Aikido and I needed to continue handling the responsibilities of my job. He explained that his Conformis patients tended to recover more quickly and get back to their active lives faster and with less pain. That’s because this model was all about creating the proper form, fit and function for each patient. I was sold on the idea and scheduled two knee replacement surgeries for May and September of 2017.

I was only in the hospital overnight after my first surgery. I diligently attended all my physical therapy sessions for about three weeks and couldn’t believe my progress— I already had more energy than before! I felt like a pro when it finally came time for my second surgery. I walked out of the hospital without assistance and four days later even enjoyed a day walking around shops on a cobblestone street with my wife. I had gone through a dark time and felt like I could finally see the light.

I am now back to the living the life I thought I lost. I practice Aikido five times a week and recently competed in a three-day tournament. My opponents couldn’t believe I had both knees replaced and was able to kick, jump and squat without any pain. I also feel more prepared for my next work trip. I can’t imagine how much more enjoyable trips will be once I’m not distracted by pain. This experience has taught me to never give up on myself, and I hope that sharing the story of my difficult journey on a rocky road will lead others to a more beautiful destination.

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