Many treatments are available for patients with knee pain and discomfort from arthritis or injuries. While injections and therapies may provide short term relief, some patients exhaust their options and have a knee replacement.

Jeanie Deleo was no stranger to surgical recovery and pain management. She and her husband, Jim, ran a physical therapy practice in Dover, Milford and Smyrna. While Jim treated patients, Jeanie managed the office. Throughout their 48-year marriage and 30 years in the business, the couple fostered countless recoveries. They know that good recuperation is hard work.

For many years, Jeanie played sports, rode horses and became an avid tennis player. “I wasn’t particularly good to my knees,” said Jeanie. “I was thrown more than a few times.” Over time, she wore away nearly all of the cartilage in her knees, which led to meniscus issues, pain and reduced flexibility.

Jeanie visited Orthopaedic Surgeon Steven Tooze to get relief. Tooze took a conservative approach at first, recommending arthroscopic procedures and injections. “They bought me time,” she said, “But they were only temporary solutions.” Tooze encouraged Jeanie to think about a total knee replacement, but until she retired, Jeanie wouldn’t entertain the idea. She knew how much work recovery would be.

Jeanie’s knee replacement was scheduled for January 2015, and she began to prepare immediately. In the months leading up to the surgery, Tooze put Jeanie on a vitamin regimen to strengthen her immune system and reduce the chance of blood clots. She spent time in the warm water pool at the YMCA and did exercises to build the muscles above and below her knee. “I can’t emphasize enough how important this preparation was to ensure a good outcome,” she said.

Just before surgery, Jeanie attended the Total Joint Class at Bayhealth. It is coordinated by Orthopaedic Nurse Navigator Janelle Hobbs and taught by orthopaedic nurses.

“The class was excellent,” said Jeanie. “They didn’t just hand us a packet of information; they took time to explain the instructions.” The class provides patients with a forum to discuss upcoming surgeries and ask questions about pre- and post-operative care. “The more that’s spelled out for you as a patient, the less frightening it is,” said Jeanie.

Jeanie’s surgery went very well. After the operation she was surrounded by nurses she called professional and compassionate. “They were really on top of my pain management.” She began physical therapy the same day with Bayhealth’s physical therapists. “I had a very positive experience with them. They were focused.”

Just 48 hours after surgery, Jeanie met her physical therapy goals and was ready to go home. Among other things, she left the hospital with a wedge pillow that she found crucial to her recovery. “The hospital staff made sure I had everything I needed when I went home,” she said.

With Tooze, his team and their protocols she felt she was an active participant in her care. Jeanie continued her at-home therapy with her husband, Jim, who ensured that her home activity aligned with Tooze’s goals.

One full year later, Jeanie was prepared to have her left knee replaced at Bayhealth and Jeanie hit her goals even earlier. Just 24 hours after her surgery, she was cleared to go home.

When friends asked why Jeanie didn’t go to a joint center in Philadelphia or Baltimore, Jeanie said, “Why would I do that? I can get what I need right here. We’re lucky to have the healthcare we have here in Delaware.”

A knee replacement can be painful, but Jeanie has advice for those who are on the fence about the decision. “Yes, it will hurt for a few weeks afterward, but having a better quality of life far outweighed the pain of recovery,” said Jeanie.

Visit bayhealth.org/ortho for more information about the Division of Orthopaedics at Bayhealth.