Kathy Schmit is a wife, mother, an executive director of a non-profit
organization, a runner – and a recent Columbia St. Mary’s patient for an
innovative hip resurfacing procedure.
On most days, her role as a surgical patient slips her mind, particularly when
she’s out enjoying a three-mile run. "It’s amazing. I’ve had no pain since the
surgery. I feel wonderful," she said of the active lifestyle that she has
regained since her surgery last fall.
Kathy credits Columbia
St. Mary’s surgeons and staff, the hospital’s Joint Camp program and her own
determination for the positive outcome from her orthopaedic procedure – a
procedure that offers patients an alternative to traditional total hip
Kathy, 56, had been a dedicated runner for nearly three decades. Through years
of training and running, and completing four marathons including the famed
Boston Marathon, she had a runner’s mindset when it came to injuries. "They say
runners are either tough, stubborn or in denial. I think I was all three," she
said of her reluctance to back off on running when she began to feel pain in her
left hip during her workouts. That was five years ago.
As time went on, the pain worsened. "Toughing it out," as Kathy put it, wasn’t
working for her anymore. She went to see Dr. Richard Karr at Columbia St. Mary’s
Hospital Ozaukee Campus, who diagnosed arthritis in her left hip. He prescribed
an anti-inflammatory and told her to back off of running. Admittedly, she backed
off "a bit."
Convinced that a total hip replacement would finish her running life, Kathy
resisted that type of surgery. "Running was a big part of my life. It was my
exercise — my meditation. I wasn’t prepared to give that up," she said. But
after four years of doing an end-run around her hip problem, Kathy was open to
any solution. "By last summer the pain was so bad I couldn’t stand it. I walked
with a noticeable limp and couldn’t sleep at night," she said. "I told Dr. Karr
I’d do anything."
Understanding her passion for running, Dr. Karr recommended that she see Dr.
Mike Anderson — an orthopaedic surgeon at Columbia St. Mary’s who was specially
trained in the latest technique of hip resurfacing. This technique gave Kathy
the greatest chance to realize her goal to run again – pain free.
Dr. Anderson evaluated Kathy. He said she was a good candidate for the surgery
because she was young, active, very motivated and had good bone density.
Kathy had done her research on the resurfacing technique and felt confident that
the procedure was a good option. Although it still was surgery, the end of the
femur bone would not be removed but reshaped and fitted with a metal cap, which
fits into a metal lining in the pelvic bone. "It’s the metal-on-metal joint that
gives you an advantage with fit and wear," she said.
Her surgery was scheduled for October 17, 2006. But first, Kathy went to
Columbia St. Mary’s Joint Camp. "Columbia St. Mary’s does a great job preparing
you and managing your expectations about surgery, recovery and rehab," she said.
Joint Camp specifically addresses the needs and issues of joint replacement
Kathy had surgery on Tuesday and went home on Thursday – a day ahead of
schedule. Her pain was well managed and she was very motivated about her
rehabilitation. "I can’t say enough about the Columbia St. Mary’s orthopaedic
floor – incredible nursing care. They know exactly what to do," she said.
In less than a week after surgery, with the aid of crutches, she was walking to
the end of her driveway. By the end of the third week, she didn’t use them at
all. "I healed really well and progressed exactly the way Dr. Anderson said I
would," she said.
Kathy started weight training in December to regain strength and balance. And
around the first of the year she began a power-walking regimen. With a plan of a
mid-April Arizona vacation with her husband Tom, Kathy adjusted her goal. The
thought of running in the warm desert air was a powerful draw. "I went to see
Dr. Anderson and he told me I could start jogging every other day," she said.
Kathy power walks and gets out on her usual five-mile route three times a week,
although now she walks the first and last miles while jogging the three miles in
between – all without pain. Although she prefers to be outside, Kathy also works
out on her elliptical machine.
Kathy is grateful that the doctors and staff at Columbia St. Mary’s understood
how important it was for her to run again and to regain the level of activity
she once enjoyed. She also understands the importance of listening to your body.
"Scheduling days off from your workout routine is an important part of
maintaining your physical fitness," she said.