Linda DeBolt & Katherine “Kathy” Tweeton
What are the chances of two sisters undergoing surgery on the same day? Pretty slim. Now, what are the chances of two sisters undergoing the same type of surgery on the same day, at the same hospital, by the same surgeon? It’s hard to imagine, even despite the fact the sisters are two of 11 siblings.
On February 8, 2018, sisters Linda DeBolt, 54, and Katherine “Kathy” Tweeton, 64, underwent single knee replacement surgeries at Texas Orthopedic Hospital. Both surgeries were performed by affiliated orthopedic surgeon Robin Goytia of Fondren Orthopedic Group, who specializes in knee and hip replacement.
“I couldn’t take it anymore.”
While their surgeries were similar, their journeys were different. Four years ago, Linda tore her meniscus (cartilage) in her knee. At the time, she underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the torn cartilage but knew the procedure might not be a permanent fix. She tried acupuncture, chiropractic, massage therapy and various pain medications, but her pain persisted. “I tried to live with it,” says Linda, whose profession as a gourmet chef requires long periods on her feet, “but it was bone on bone. The pain was too much. I couldn’t take it anymore.”
Over lunch with Kathy one day, Linda told her sister she intended to move forward with a total knee replacement. To Linda’s surprise, Kathy responded that she had recently scheduled her own knee replacement surgery, with Dr. Goytia at Texas Orthopedic Hospital. Kathy’s problem stemmed not from an injury but from osteoarthritis of her knee joint. The sisters’ father had also suffered from arthritis, which, Kathy says, runs in the family.
“Just walking became excruciating.”
Kathy, a retired sales executive who lives with her husband on over an acre of land on Lake Conroe, loves to garden and ride bicycles. For two years, however, the pain in her right knee had prevented her from participating in the activities she loves. Recalls Kathy, “I tried two rounds of steroid injections, which provided temporary relief, but the pain kept coming back. Eventually, just walking became excruciating.”
When she was ready for a more permanent solution, she knew just where to turn. Years before, her husband had undergone surgery at Texas Orthopedic Hospital to repair a compound fracture he sustained after falling from a ladder. Kathy had also undergone successful treatment there, for arthritis in her thumb joints. Both had been very pleased with the care and outcomes they had received. “I was already sold on Texas Orthopedic Hospital,” she says.
The sisters took comfort in knowing that over 2,400 joint replacement surgeries are performed every year by Fondren Orthopedic Group surgeons at Texas Orthopedic Hospital, over 600 by Dr. Goytia’s team alone.
The day of the surgery, Kathy went first and says she told the pre-op nurse, “keep an eye out for my sister, Linda. She’ll be along shortly.” Kathy’s husband, Phil, and Linda’s husband, Bruce, sat together in in the waiting room during their wives’ surgeries. Kathy and Linda knew what to expect from the pre-operative patient education class which, the sisters admit, Kathy attended “for the team.” After their surgeries, they were taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) then were transferred to next-door hospital rooms. They took turns visiting each other, to the amusement of the nurses and staff.
“The best hospital out there”
Linda was discharged the next day. After three months of outpatient physical therapy, she is back at work part-time, working four- to five-hour shifts. Her pre-surgery pain is gone, and any residual pain from the surgery is subsiding. About her experience, she remarks, “It was a fabulous experience. Dr. Goytia has a good bedside manner. He was thorough, answering questions I hadn’t even thought about. Throughout the day of my surgery, all of the nurses raved about him. That says a lot. And Texas Orthopedic Hospital is the best hospital I’ve ever been in.”
Kathy also worked with an outpatient physical therapist. Her arthritis pain is gone. She is back in the garden and back on her bike. She says she was especially appreciative of the personalized care she received from Dr. Goytia, the nurses and staff. “All of the people were so nice and accommodating. When I needed them, they were there. I never had to wait. I trusted them. At some hospitals you need an advocate, a family member there with you day and night. But at the end of the day, I told my husband, ‘Go home. I’ll be fine.’ I think it’s the best hospital out there.”
Rapid recovery protocol
Dr. Goytia attributes patients’ shorter hospital stays and expedited recoveries to the hospital’s rapid recovery protocol. “Patients are given more intravenous (IV) anesthesia and less gas. They’re given pre-emptive pain medications, before and during their surgeries. As a result, they wake up faster, experience less nausea and mobilize quicker. This gets them up and moving so they can participate in their own recoveries,” he says. “Ten years ago, patients typically spent four or five nights in the hospital after surgery, now over 80 percent go home after one night.”