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Susan Mensch (right) recovered from same-day total knee replacement with care from her sister, Karen Senne.
Two months after her total knee replacement surgery, Susan Mensch went shopping with her sister, Karen Senne. "She didn't have to drop me off at the door, and I didn't have to look for places to sit and rest my knee," Susan says. "It was a such a relief to be able to walk without knee pain."
Susan, who is an aide at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Fairmont, Minnesota, knew she was ready for another total knee replacement when walking and standing became more difficult, and going up and down steps brought her to tears.
"I wasn't able to monitor the kids at recess like I used to," she says.
When Susan had her first total knee replacement in 2017, she spent three nights in the hospital and then went home to an empty apartment. This time, she had a new option: same-day surgery at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont, where she was the first patient to qualify and take advantage of it.
"Same-day surgery eliminates the chance of picking up an infection or illness during your hospital stay, and COVID-19 really heightened that concern," says Mark Wikenheiser, M.D., Susan's orthopedic surgeon. "Plus, everyone is more comfortable at home, and if they meet certain criteria, they really don't need to stay in the hospital."
That criteria includes having someone at home with you for five to seven days after surgery. "That doesn't mean someone just dropping in to check on you, but someone who can be there all the time to make sure you're safe," says Dr. Wikenheiser.
Other criteria range from overall general health, the ability to tolerate spinal or local anesthesia, and taking part in "pre-hab."
This consultation takes place before surgery with physical and occupational therapists who will:
- Ensure you know how to use a walker or crutches, and a cane.
- Teach the exercises you'll need for strengthening your leg and gaining range of motion.
- Introduce you to aids and equipment that would be useful at home.
On the day of her surgery, Karen drove Susan to the hospital, picked her up when she was out of recovery and brought Susan to her home in Welcome, Minnesota, where she spent just over two weeks.
"Having someone to take care of you after surgery is so important," Susan says. "That's a big reason why I was able to qualify for the same-day option. Karen and her husband, Aldo, were so sweet and supportive, and made sure I had everything I needed. Karen even gave me a bell to ring if I needed something." That support included preparing meals, walking with her as she got used to the walker, helping lift her leg into bed, guiding her at-home physical therapy exercises and bathing.
Even after she returned to her apartment, Karen drove Susan to her regular outpatient physical therapy sessions with therapists Melissa Sanvig and Jay Schmidt. "Pretty quickly, I was able to do a lot on my own. After about six weeks, I was given the OK to drive," says Susan.
When Susan had completed her last physical therapy session, she brought cupcakes to her Same-Day Surgery and Physical Therapy teams to celebrate her recovery.
"This really was the way to go, especially if you have someone who's willing to give their time to take care of you," Susan says.