New Knees, New Outlook: Surgery Restores Arkley's Quality of Life

November 30, 2016 Raymond Koch, MD

Whether she’s walking on the beach with her three dogs, horseback riding, or hiking with her husband on their family property, Cherie Arkley has always been active.

“I have a Fitbit® and I love to work out,” explains the mother of two, who recently welcomed her second grandchild.

But several years ago, the registered nurse began experiencing recurring pain in both knees that wouldn’t go away. In fact, it was so bad that just 30 minutes of physical activity would leave her with intense knee pain and swelling.

Combine a lifetime of physical activity with a family history of knee problems, and the outlook was not good for the active Eureka resident. “The hardest part was feeling restricted with what I could and couldn’t do,” she says.

Initially, Arkley tried a variety of non-invasive treatments — like reducing her activity level and staying off her feet — to lessen the pain. But when none of those measures worked, she began to consider a surgical option.

“Prolonged knee pain of any kind becomes depressing after a while,” Arkley says. “It really affects your quality of life. If you can, you have to do something.”

Arkley eventually decided that total knee replacement — or arthroplasty — in which the entire knee is replaced with an artificial joint, was her best option.

“It was a serious procedure with a lot of downtime, but I knew it was the only way I would be able to enjoy my life fully into my later years,” she says.

When it came to choosing a surgeon, Arkley was selective, considering physicians both in and out of the area. At one point, she visited a clinic in Baton Rouge, La., but could immediately tell from the size and feel of the waiting room that it wasn’t a match.

“There were a lot of patients there and I knew I was going to be another number,” she says.

For Arkley, a long-time resident of Humboldt County, finding care close to home was a priority. Ultimately, she found the right fit in Raymond Koch, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with St. Joseph Hospital, Eureka/St. Joseph Health Medical Group who has more than 30 years of experience.

His location in Eureka and his positive reputation in the community made it an easy decision. “Dr. Koch has a great reputation, and so does St. Joseph Hospital. Being close to home was just an added bonus,” she says.

On New Year’s Eve of 2014, Arkley underwent total knee replacement surgery on her left knee. Five months later, she had the same procedure completed on her right knee.

Total knee replacement, or arthroplasty, is a major surgery, requiring hospitalization and at least six weeks of recovery. During the procedure, surgeons completely replace parts of the damaged knee joint with artificial parts to relieve pain and help restore normal knee function. The procedure lasts 4 1/2 hours.

As an RN, Arkley believes that having a positive attitude and being close to home are key factors in ensuring a speedy recovery. “For me, it made it so much easier and nicer to be cared for in my community,” she says. “It absolutely helped me heal more quickly.”

Now, almost two years after her first surgery, Arkley is walking, jogging, and has resumed almost
all of her previous activities.

“I call my new knees my new wheels because they feel so strong,” she says. She credits Dr. Koch and his orthopedic team at St. Joseph Hospital for restoring her quality of life.

“The ease of the pre-op was wonderful, Dr. Koch’s office made everything so seamless and I drove 4 miles to my home after I was done,” Arkley recalls. “Being a RN myself, I know what to look for and I can say that I got superior care from St. Joseph Hospital and Dr. Koch. I couldn’t be happier.”

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