Resuming an Active Life With Help, Healing and Compassion
Anne Ruchalsky doesn’t waste a minute. She’s always been that way. A full-time job for the past 23 years, daily gym workouts, childcare for her two young grandchildren—literally and figuratively, her life is full.
So it was distressing when the 58-year-old Parlin, New Jersey resident’s right hip started to bother her during her daily weight-lifting and cardio workout. Doing her yoga ultimately signaled the intensity of the pain. She went to an orthopedist, but the visit did not go well.
“He diagnosed me with arthritis, but said I should be thankful I didn’t have bone cancer. He gave me a prescription for a cane and told me to wear heels to take the pressure off my legs (I should have asked him to be more specific–Louis Vuitton’s?).” Joking aside, she says through tears, “I was devastated.” As often happens when patients receive a physician diagnosis, she says she took it for granted that “he knew what he was talking about.” The pain remained and forced her to curtail her workouts for a year. “With the arthritis pain limiting my activities, I felt ‘this isn’t me’,” she says.
Her husband eventually mentioned that maybe she should explore other options. In a quest to give it another try, she looked up orthopedists who take her insurance. By chance, she found Dr. William Baione of University Orthopaedic Associates.
A Different Kind of Appointment
As Ruchalsky waited in the room for Dr. Baione, she viewed the image of her hip on the X-ray lightbox. Dr. Baione walked in and looked at it as well. “I have bad news and good news,” he told her. “The bad news is you have arthritis, but the good news is that I can give you your life back.” Those words began the process of her relief and resolution.
Appointments as well as surgery with Dr. Baione were an entirely positive experience for her. “Everyone was very professional and so friendly. I never had to wait more than 10 minutes to be seen for my appointments. Once Dr. Baione explained the surgery, I had total confidence in him. Right before the procedure, he came in and told me, ‘Everything is going to be ok.’”
On January 22, 2018, Ruchalsky underwent a direct anterior total hip replacement with Dr. Baione.
This minimally invasive procedure offers the same long term results as other traditional hip replacement surgeries, but with some additional benefits. It is a muscle-sparing procedure in which patients often require less pain medication, and they do not have any restrictions on motion postoperatively. This results in a more rapid recovery in which patients can usually go home the same day or the next day.”
All that’s left is a mere two-inch scar that she says has “healed beautifully.”
According to Dr. Baione, “The combination of muscle sparing surgery and modern joint replacement materials allow us to offer this surgery to younger patients looking to return to a level of activity they are accustomed to.”
Looking back, she says, “I didn’t realize until I met Dr. Baione and had a good result how much the prior bad experience had affected me. Dr. Baione has been the epitome of what defines good bedside manner. His whole persona is amazing.”
Back to Her Life
“Following the surgery, I told Dr. Baione I wanted to get my strength back. He told me I was in great shape and that I could get in even better shape.” Two weeks after the procedure, she started physical therapy. Recovery pain was minimal, and by eight weeks, she was back to her full-time activities.
“I’m out of pain. I’m back at the gym and moving around like I used to. I believe it all works together: mind, body, soul. I feel like I have gotten my life back.”
Her joy at resuming her prior life is palpable, especially for such an active person. She credits her surgeon. “I’m grateful that I met Dr. Baione. He’s a wonderful doctor.”