As far as Joan Schwartz is concerned, Gerald Dugan, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon at Lee’s Summit Medical Center is the bee’s knees. That old-fashioned phrase aligns with Schwartz’s sentiments following her left total knee replacement surgery in Nov. 2016—an experience that the 73-year-old retired kindergarten teacher had in Atlanta, under a different surgeon 15 years ago, that yielded much different results.
“I got an infection with my first surgery in 2002 and had some other complications,” Schwartz says. “Overall that procedure didn’t go very well, so I wasn’t looking forward to having my left knee replaced, but knew it needed to be done. I was limping badly and in considerable pain so couldn’t delay it. I made the decision to find a good orthopedic surgeon in Kansas City, which I certainly did in Dr. Dugan.”
Schwartz’s sense of humor and optimistic outlook on life are her personality trademarks, so it was important to her to have a doctor she could relate to and bond with.
“Not only is Dr. Dugan very good at what he does, I appreciate his brand of humor,” Schwartz says. “The surgery went extremely well at Lee’s Summit Medical Center under his direction—in fact, I was walking that night.”
Schwartz’s recovery has been smooth sailing, in part because she did whatever Dr. Dugan and his nurses instructed.
“Really—that’s critical post-surgery,” she says. “Following doctor’s orders is not to be taken lightly. I stayed in the hospital two days and then did outpatient therapy for three months—meeting all the goals Dr. Dugan set, including working on bending my knee back, one of the most difficult things to do after this type of surgery.”
Schwartz and her husband, Fred, lead active lives and, much to her pleasure, she has resumed most of them. That includes accompanying Fred to Wayside Waifs where the couple walk shelter dogs and to WDAF where they bundle adoptable canines in their car and show them to viewers during a weekly Friday noon segment.
“I’m his wingman, of sorts, because Fred goes on air,” Schwartz says. “I also do yoga and attend an exercise program with Silver Sneakers at Legacy Park Community Center in Lee’s Summit.”
As far as advice to others considering total knee replacement surgery, Schwartz has advice that echoes her experience.
“First, get a doctor you like and trust,” she says. “I was lucky because I found Dr. Dugan, my perfect match. Then do what they tell you to do—in the hospital, at home and in physical therapy. That’s the key. You know, if you don’t suck it up and do the work after the surgery, no one will for you.”