Like most people, I am not overly fond of hospitals and the thought of surgery sends me into a cold sweat. This summer, I braved my fears and I'm so glad I did. I am so grateful for all the help from my surgeon and all the staff at St. Joe's Howell hospital and follow-up therapy. They are greatly skilled fantastic people.
So how did I get here?
When I was 18, a horse fell on me. To be fair to the horse, it was sort of my fault. I had encouraged her to rear up, lone-ranger style. She complied but we didn't get the balance right and went over. She landed on my leg and tore up my knee. I had surgery but this was 1965 and orthopedic surgery was a bit primitive by today's standards. Well, that knee has been a problem ever since and it became obvious about a decade ago that a replacement was in order. I researched, I talked with doctors about it but always found a reason to put it off. But as the years have gone by and it was more and more painful to get around, I realized I had accepted a curtailed life. I was avoided activities that required walking, including playing golf. I started hearing stories about how happy people were a year after their surgeries so I decided to go for it. (So, if you have missed me at county events this summer, it is because of my new and improved knee. ) Not only that, I surprised myself by having it done here in Howell, at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston, and I could not be happier.
A little background...
Howell hospital was founded in 1928 when the McPherson family donated their home to the city. I was born in that facility in 1947 on a cold April day and yes it was actually snowing. The hospital located next to the railroad tracks on North Michigan Avenue where condos now stand. In 1958, the hospital moved to its new location on Byron Road on land donated by the McPhersons. There was also a small hospital in Brighton where the now Chamber of Commerce is housed. I had my tonsils out in that facility.
The health care in Livingston County was very "small town". Doctors actually made house calls because most of the county was rural, mostly farmers like my dad. By 1965, the year I graduated from high school, the hospital had the reputation of the "band-aid clinic". You could go there for minor injuries or routine checkups but for any serious illness or injury, you would chose University of Michigan or St. Joseph Mercury (separate hospitals at the time). The Hospital has undergone many changes in management, growing and offering more and more services over the years.
The first time I had returned to the Howell Hospital (McPherson Hospital at the time), was to give birth to my son in 1970. It was a short stay and all went well. Over the years since then, I have seen many improvements made to the hospital and to the attending physicians. My son, had a huge cut on his forehead several years ago, from a plate glass mirror cut. The cut went from his hairline to his eyebrow. It was very nasty, however, the ER physician took the time to stitch his forehead back together with such precision that today, there is barely a scar. My faith in the hospital began to change. The hospital is again undergoing changes and they are all very positive. We are very lucky to have maintained the facility and now are developing a first class hospital to treat serious illnesses and performing operations.
I know there was a lot of trepidation when St. Joe's took over the hospital in 1997 and not everyone will agree with the changes that the hospital has made. But I can say that my experience was fantastic. I underwent a total knee replacement at St. Joe's in what used to be the maternity ward. Now it is a fantastic full-service orthopedic ward. The hospital staff was absolutely first class and so was my physician, Dr. Victor Gibson www.linkedin.com/in/gvictorgibsondo. I looked a long time to find a doctor that I felt I could trust to do this operation. I consulted a doctor at St Joe's Ann Arbor and a doctor at University of Michigan. However, neither doctor impressed me despite their many credentials.
Dr. Gibson does just wonderful work. He is personable and knowledgeable in his field and as all the nurses have said, good looking to boot. (We think it is his seven children that keep him humble.) All I know is he is wonderful and I am so thankful that I chose him and if you need any orthopedic work done, by all means, go to him! I plan on my second knee next year.
I was out of the hospital in two or three days, had in home physical therapy by the St. Joseph home care staff, and I was up and walking within ten days of the operation without a cane or other assistance. Pain management was great and I continue to improve every day. Also, I cannot thank my physical therapist, Leahann, enough for all of her encouragement and help in my recovery. I am now into physical therapy at Athletico here in Howell with Kate and Danielle and have had just a wonderful experience there. I will returned to work on August 15 with a whole new appreciation of Livingston County's medical facilities.