Invited to the Cinque Terre region in Italy for a wedding, Mary Helen Fein and her husband, Stuart Clancy, found themselves resting in a stairwell leading to the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Fein was experiencing a sharp pain in her right knee and had to take a break. She and Clancy rested frequently as they made their way up the eight flights of stairs to see the chapel.
Fein, who loves to travel, suffered constant knee pain throughout her trip, and many of the towns in Italy, like Siena, prohibit cars. Fein and Clancy parked outside each city and walked to the town to see the sights. Using a cane that unfolded into a small chair, she'd walk a few minutes with the cane, unfold it and rest on the chair, then continue the process again and again.
"I wasn't going to miss anything," Fein says.
Back in Auburn her family-medicine physician Gerry Lee, M.D., with Sutter Medical Group, referred Fein to orthopedic surgeon Jeff Bergeson, M.D. Dr. Bergeson recommended a total knee replacement and scheduled the surgery. He outlined the surgical process using a model of a knee to explain the joint replacement procedure.
Fein, a native of New York, was used to large, city hospitals and the technology they provide. So, she read up on Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital in Consumer Reports. It wasn't until she learned that it carries an "A" rating — the very best rating — that she felt confident in moving forward with the knee replacement surgery.
Dr. Bergeson sent Fein to the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital pre-operative, joint-replacement class where she learned about nutrition, pain management, the transition from hospital to home and the importance of rehabilitation services in the recovery process.
Once the surgery was completed, a physical therapist met Fein in her hospital room and helped her out of bed to try her new knee. "I felt so safe with her," Fein says. "When you first get on your feet nothing works the same, and it's a little scary."
Fein walked a few steps with a walker the first day, then walked a little further the next two days she was at the hospital. At home, a home-health nurse and a physical therapist worked with her, too. Fein soon graduated from a walker to a cane to walking on her own. She continued physical therapy at a local outpatient physical therapy office.
Today her knee is 100 percent healed. "I've got the knee of a 12-year old, it's strong and amazing," Fein says. "The new knee has given me my quality of life back." Happily, this means more travel for Fein and Clancy.