A New Way to Walk: Carol’s Story
Six hours a day, 180 days a year, Carol Nesti is alternately standing, sitting, crouching, bending, and otherwise corralling and lovingly educating 18 energetic, inquisitive Dorchester kindergarteners—a challenge to any, (to Carol, “an honor,”) and without a properly functioning hip, all but impossible.
“I have issues with my joints,” admits Carol, 58. Though she’s not one to complain, chronic achiness in her hip prompted her PCP, Dr. Daniel Driscoll of Quincy Primary Care, to recommend visiting Dr. Michael Baratz, Tufts Medical Center Orthopedic Surgeon, in the fall of 2014.
“Carol’s physical exam demonstrated a very painful hip with poor mobility, and her x-rays showed severe degeneration of her hip joint,” recalls Dr. Baratz. “While hip replacement surgery is never a requirement, I recommended it for her, as I felt it was the best treatment option to alleviate her pain and restore her quality of life.”
One of the Most Successful Procedures Available
“Hip replacement is a very common surgery,” continues Baratz, citing “approximately 400,000 total hip replacements performed in the US in 2014.” Dr. Baratz conducted 100 such hip replacements in 2015 and anticipates 150 on his docket in 2016. It is among the most successful procedures in existence, with up to 99% of patients satisfied with the results, he says.
“The lifespan of the prosthesis is variable, but over 90% make it 10 years, and about 80% make it to 20 years,” he continues. “I have high hopes that Carol will get at least 20 years out of hers.” Dr. Baratz worked around Carol’s schedule, performing her 2-hour hip replacement during February 2015’s school vacation.
A knee replacement at another facility a decade ago never felt quite right, causing Carol undue stress before visiting Tufts. “You’re not supposed to be in pain when you have your knee replaced,” she says. In stark contrast, “from the day I had my hip replaced at Tufts MC, I’ve never had any bit of pain. It completely changed my perception of orthopedic surgery.”
The day after surgery, Carol recalls sharing her trepidation about walking with her Tufts MC physical therapist, Colleen. “She just said, ‘Try it, and if you’re not comfortable, we’ll stop.’ She didn’t minimize my anxiety about being in pain—she acknowledged and validated it, and made me comfortable enough to push myself.”
Despite her fears, “the first day I got up—really anxiously—I was able to walk right away,” Carol marvels. “By the second day, I was walking down the hall. They had me do stairs at the hospital, too. I had medication to keep me comfortable.”
Neither Snow Nor Rain Prevented Exceptional Care…
Just a few days post-op, Carol was discharged to complete her recovery at home in Quincy. “I had visiting nurses come in once or twice a week, and PTs came several times a week.” Though early 2015’s famed ‘Snowpocalypse’ dumped 108.6 record-breaking inches of snowfall over greater Boston and blocked Carol’s three-car driveway, her home care team never let her down. “One of them had to park over by Marshalls and walk—a good 15-minute walk on a good day. Can you imagine in three feet of snow?”
Three weeks post-op, Carol returned to the rigors of a half-dozen hours a day on her feet, teaching a roomful of feisty kindergarteners. She credits her quick return to Baratz’s team at Tufts MC and her “really strong support system at home”—five frequently visiting adult children, five young grandsons, and especially, Dave, her husband of 35 years. “He has my back completely,” she says. “I couldn’t have recovered without him here.”
Tufts MC's Specialty Center in Quincy - In Your Backyard
Carol elected to see Dr. Baratz for her two post-op visits at Tufts MC’s Quincy Specialty Center, which she found “really convenient because it’s 10 minutes from where I work and where I live,” doesn’t require driving into Boston, and offers easy, free parking. In addition to orthopedics, Quincy’s Specialty Center offers appointments with top physicians in sports medicine, physiatry, endocrinology, cardiology, and primary care.
“Within a few months, you would never have known I had a hip replaced,” Carol says, adding that she was limp-free 8 weeks out, despite always having limped pre-surgery.
The Best Show-and-Tell
Based on how great she felt, Carol was not surprised that Baratz gave her an “excellent prognosis.” She was surprised, however, to emerge from one of those visits with what quickly became one of her most prized possessions: an artificial hip.
“From time to time, I am able to get my hands on an implant, which for one reason or another was not used in the operating room,” Baratz explains. “I typically keep these in my office for educational purposes for my residents or patients. Carol had touched my heart with her stories about her kindergarten students, so I decided to give Carol an unused implant to bring to her class.”
Carol was beyond excited. “I was able to tell them and show them, ‘This is why I was out.’ And they took it home and showed it to their parents. I had parents come up to me asking to see it—their parents had had the surgery too. Dr. Baratz is awesome. He says someday he’s going to come in and visit the kids—and I know he will.”
Though orthopedic patients should not expect a bonus artificial hip following surgery, according to Carol, all Tufts MC patients should expect five-star treatment. “I’ve had a lot of experience with physicians and hospitals. Tufts is just amazing,” she says. “Everybody from when I was admitted to the phlebotomist, the CNAs, the nurses—everybody was just respectful; everybody seemed like they didn’t mind being there.”
“Dr. Baratz and his team are tremendously busy, but everyone they deal with is a person first, and then a patient. That, to me, makes a huge difference. His whole practice was so accessible,” she says, particularly highlighting Physician Assistant Sarah Rice. “Right through the whole process, she was just the go-to person,” addressing any concern, big or small. Sarah is “a crucial part of my team,” concurs Dr. Baratz. “I would not be able to do this surgery without every member of this team.”
“I know the other hip will have to be replaced” eventually, Carol says. “That’s ok now—before it wasn’t. I know I’m in great hands. I know Dr. Baratz is the best. I know I’ll be treated with respect. I know I’ll be more than just a number.”