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Published on September 26, 2016

Back in the surf after knee replacementBack in the surf after knee replacement

At age 53, Eileen Mann felt too young to be having knee replacements. And statistically she was; the average age for total knee replacement is 70. But Mann, a nurse in the surgical recovery room at Cape Cod Hospital, was in deep pain at this time last year, watching the pleasures in her life diminish day by excruciating day.

“The pain was extreme,” Mann, a Sandwich resident, recalled. “I was on my feet my lot at work; it was difficult to even finish my shift. I was literally dragging my feet and limping.”

So last fall, Mann got an appointment with Timothy J. Kinkead, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Cape Cod Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. Viewing Mann’s X-rays, Dr. Kinkead saw that cartilage in both of Mann’s knees was worn away to bone-on-bone, the situation exacerbated by bone spurs.

“He said I must have a high pain threshold,” Mann said with a light laugh.

In November 2015, Mann checked into Cape Cod Hospital and underwent five-hour bilateral knee replacement surgery, during which Dr. Kinkead pulled the tendons of each knee to the side, cut into her bones, and inserted the prosthetic knees.

Today, though she is still technically in recovery, Mann said she feels great.

“They said it takes about a year to ‘not think about my knees.’ I have a little numbness, but that’s normal.”

Back to Work and Exercising

This summer, she was working her full-time job, plus exercising four to five times a week for at least 30 minutes, with visits to the gym, workout videos with one of her three daughters, and walking her dogs. She also has a Facebook page with friends who help each other build a healthy lifestyle and, as Mann says, “to be accountable.”

“I’m able to do so much more,” Mann said, “It feels wonderful.” By early this month, she had lost 20 pounds and intends to lose more: “My number one goal is to get healthy and get to a normal weight.”

Mann started with steroid injections in summer 2015, hoping that would reduce the pain. “Initially they helped,” she said. But then the pain was back. Dr. Kinkead saw that Mann’s health was being affected in more ways than one.

“One of the main things he said to me was that when your cardiovascular health is affected, that decreases your lifespan. That got me to go forward.”

One of the last straws was Mann realizing she wouldn’t be able to go to the theater with her friends, because she would have to take the stairs. “It got too painful,” she said.

After her surgery, Mann spent three days in Cape Cod Hospital’s Mugar wing. A big part of her good feelings about her surgery is the staff she encountered.

“You’re helpless those first three days,” she said. “They were exceptional: the nurses, technicians, staff, were all so patient and kind.”

Five days of inpatient rehab followed. The day she came home from rehab, she walked on crutches down the road and back.

“I didn’t expect that at all,” she said.

For the next two weeks, visiting nurses and a physical therapist came to her home, which was followed by outpatient rehab until last March.

Now Mann is back to her life with renewed zest. She recalled a wonderful trip to Mexico with her husband, Bob Mann, last February.

“I would never have been able to get myself out of the surf before the surgery. It changed my life profoundly.”