Protecting my Family’s Future

My name is Mark Stephens and #ThisIsMyKnee

There is no greater fear for a husband and father than not being able to provide for his family. My wife and I live and raised our three grown children in Illinois. We have been married 29 years, and with the kids out of the house we were finally able to turn our attention back to our own dream— designing and building a new home. We were very excited to begin the process, but we became concerned when my company hit a rough patch and workers were being laid off. I began to spend more time at work, and on my feet, with the hopes of safeguarding my job.

I am an engineering team leader for a global construction equipment manufacturer. My day often includes climbing onto large machines or crawling into small tight spaces. I’m 51 years old and in good shape, but I’ve always had problems with my knees. The extra-long days I was putting in didn’t help, and the pain soon became unbearable.

I had sharp jolts of pain in my knees that would wake me up at night. I’d have to get back up after going to bed to take some Naproxen, in hopes for some relief. Eventually, after losing so much sleep at night due to the pain, I found myself constantly exhausted and easily irritated. Enough was enough as I did not want this to affect my work or my life at home any longer. So, I decided to see a doctor.

My family doctor confirmed that both my knees might need to be replaced and referred me to Dr. Richard Driessnack at OSF HealthCare Great Plains Orthopedics. I explained that my top concerns were being away from work for too long, during the trying times my company was experiencing, and the impact this would have on my family. Dr. Driessnack understood, and told me a Conformis fully customized knee could reduce the risk of pain and help with a faster recovery. I wouldn’t even have to stay in the hospital overnight! The idea of an outpatient knee replacement was enough to get me to agree.

I had surgery to replace my left knee in April 2017. I was up and walking within hours and left the outpatient center that same day. I put all my energy into physical therapy and was back to work in less than a month. I was amazed that I was up and around so quickly. Nine weeks after the first surgery I had my right knee replaced. The recovery was about the same and I was finally feeling so much better.

I am now back to work full time and I think I am moving faster than ever. I’m happy to say that I usually log over 15,000 steps a day on my Fitbit. Something I had a big problem doing before my surgery, due to so much pain. But the greatest feeling is that I can focus on my family and job again without worrying about the pain. My wife and I completed construction of the new home and moved in during August of the same year. I lifted heavy moving boxes and helped move furniture without any pain. This surgery is one of the best things I’ve ever done. My only regret is that I did not do it sooner. I highly recommend the Conformis knee to everyone that I know because, to me, it’s more than just a piece of technology. It’s an opportunity to continue to do my job to the absolute best of my ability, which allows me to focus on my family and be the best dad and husband I can be.

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