29 Mar For Jim Cheney, knee replacement at OMC “completely turned my life around”
Severe arthritis in his knee and an accident left Jim Cheney in pain for over a year. “I was dragging my leg around for a year and a half,” said Jim. “And one of my legs was smaller than the other because of muscle loss.”
For the active athlete and local baseball coach, living with knee pain and missing out on his favorite pastimes was frustrating. “I couldn’t run or bike and after-dinner walks with my wife just stopped,” he shared. “I couldn’t keep up with my yard work or even stand up for more than 25 minutes. It was hard.”
In early 2020, Jim knew he couldn’t put the pain off anymore. He asked around to friends and family and started his research for a doctor. When he came across Olympic Medical Physicians orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dirk Gouge, he was surprised to learn an experienced and respected surgeon was so close to home. “Dr. Gouge’s reputation was as good or better as any surgeon I could get out of town,” said Jim.
In fact, Dr. Gouge, who grew up in Port Angeles, draws on the experience gained over 23 years as an orthopedic surgeon at OMC. Dr. Thomas Herschmiller joined OMC in 2016 following education and training at distinguished institutions, such as Princeton University, Duke University Medical Center and the Columbia Center for Hip and Knee Replacement. Together, Dr. Gouge and Dr. Herschmiller – two of OMC’s 13 orthopedic providers – are outstanding surgeons who perform knee replacements locally in Clallam County.
With this information and after talking with friends who’d had knee replacements in town and out of town, the conclusion was unanimous: Jim was getting his knee replacement surgery right here at home.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic put his surgery on hold, Jim was ready to go once Dr. Gouge called him to schedule his procedure. “I was one of the first people Dr. Gouge called when (COVID) restrictions lifted for surgeries,” shared Jim. “He knew I was in a lot of pain.”
In June 2020, Jim had full knee replacement surgery at Olympic Medical Center, where Dr. Gouge used robotic-assisted technology that provides better results and quicker healing time.
“All the providers were great, and everything was very professional,” said Jim. “They all said, ‘If you need anything, call day or night.’” Jim said Dr. Gouge checked in on him throughout the days and weeks after surgery, and his Olympic Medical Center physical therapist came to his house to make sure he was strengthening his knee at the right pace. “Everything was fantastic.”
“I knew Jim’s knee arthritis was really affecting his life,” said Dr. Gouge. “Jim is young and active for this surgery, so he needs his knee to last a long time.”
Dr. Gouge explained that robotic-assistance helps achieve the perfect fit, alignment and balance so surgeons like him can assure the knee lasts 30 years or more. “We’ve used minimally invasive techniques for many years, and the robotic-assistance optimizes those techniques,” explained Dr. Gouge.
Now, Jim feels like he has his life back.
He’s hiking three to five miles, biking up to ten miles, and can be up on his feet for three to four hours with no pain. He’s hopeful baseball season starts up again this year so he can get back to coaching his grandson’s team.
Overall, Jim is thankful to Dr. Gouge and his care team for getting him back on his feet.
“I can spend time with my wife again on walks and bike rides. I can do all my yard work and climb up ladders and stairs,” said Jim. “Before, I was in severe pain all the time, but my knee replacement completely turned my life around.”
Do you think you might be a candidate for full or partial knee surgery because of arthritis or an injury? Learn the signs you may need knee replacement surgery here, then explore more about full and partial knee replacement at Olympic Medical Center.