Protecting My Community at Any Cost

My name is Walter Hawkins and #ThisISMyKnee

My job is physically demanding, so it was not too surprising when I injured my left knee while responding to a house fire in January 2017. I have worked with the Oklahoma City Fire department for more than 22 years, climbing onto fire trucks, unloading hoses, and steering our engines quickly through traffic. My injury was a common one – I slipped off a platform while trying to load a hose for the men on the ground. I hit the pavement hard with my legs straight and felt a shooting pain up my left side. Now I am no stranger to knee pain, but I knew instantly that I needed to see a doctor ASAP.

Since my high school football days, I have known knee pain. I have had surgeries to repair torn cartilage on both knees, endured countless cortisone shots, and even had several scopes in each knee. After each injury, I did my best to bounce back and get active again. Even after my fall from the truck, I went to the doctor’s office expecting that another scope would help clear away the damage. Surprise! This time the doctors told me it was time to consider a full knee replacement.

That news is never easy for anyone, and as the doctor went over several options with me, I had trouble focusing. I had heard of other people having painful knee replacements where they did not feel back to normal even months later. And I didn’t want to be forced to retire from the fire department before I was ready. How could I be sure that a replacement could get me back to normal? Could it do more harm than good? What if I still had trouble climbing into the fire truck or racing into a building to save people trapped inside? After my appointment, I went home to research my options. That’s when I learned about Conformis. From the web site I watched the video testimonials from other Conformis patients and heard from doctors across the country. The selling point for me was that they would be making the implant fit the natural curves of my bone. This meant that my surgeon could remove less of my own natural bone. I thought this might give me a better shot at being able to handle my job responsibilities without pain. I was so convinced that I decided to get both knees replaced at the same time with Conformis technology.

I went in for surgery the morning of June 6, 2017 and was shocked when I was able to walk the hospital halls later that night. I stayed in the hospital for a week so that I could participate in a more aggressive physical therapy program, but right from the beginning the pain was manageable and my recovery went well. Even then, I could feel that I made the right decision.

Just five months after my surgery I was back to working full-time and feeling better than ever! I am confident that my knees can handle any situation. It’s also a relief not to have the constant pain distracting me from getting the job done. And I can be there for my community for many years to come. I have recommended the Conformis knee replacement to three of my fellow firefighters. For me, this operation was the decision that will allow me to continue to protect and serve the people in my community for years to come. There is no better feeling than that.

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