This "Bionic Woman" is Unstoppable
With three joints replaced over the last 17 years, Arthur Lee Merritt, 72, has dubbed herself the “bionic woman.” The Baltimore retiree had her left knee replaced first. That was followed by her right knee in 2004 and her left hip in 2010. Today, she’s still going strong — driving to church, shopping for groceries, cleaning the house and climbing the basement stairs when doing laundry.
Merritt credits her super recovery after three operations to her orthopaedic surgeon at Harbor Hospital, Dr. Shelton C. Simmons III. She first began seeing Simmons for osteoarthritis pain in her knees 22 years ago. “Over the years,” said Merritt, “I’ve gotten to know Dr. Simmons, and now I can’t say enough good things about him.”
“Dr. Simmons is such a nice, quiet, patient man,” Merritt said. “He’s always very professional, and he takes the time to explain things thoroughly. And when I had X-rays done, he showed me how to read them. Dr. Simmons made sure I had the facts I needed. Then he left the decision about whether to have joint replacement surgery up to me.”
Exercising Her Options
Simmons believes that it’s vital for patients to be well informed. “If you’re thinking about joint replacement, you need to know exactly what will be done. And you also need to understand the expectations for recovery afterward,” Simmons said. “Physical therapy and home exercises after the surgery are probably as important as the operation itself for achieving the best results.”
One reason Merritt has recovered so well is because she worked hard at it. “I still do exercises every night for my hip,” she said. Merritt also takes sensible precautions to protect her high-tech joints. “I had rails put up on the basement stairs,” she said. “And if a grocery bag or the trash is too heavy, I don’t try to lift it. Instead, I call my nephew, and he carries it for me.”
I know we are tight on words but I feel like this needs some sort of a transition word at least….. even if we say-“Though I don’t use a cane at home, I bring one…..
“I don’t use a cane at home. But I bring one with me when I go shopping, just in case,” Merritt said. “The other day, I was in the store, and I had this feeling that something was missing. Then I realized what it was— I had walked away and forgotten my cane in the car. That’s when I knew I must be doing pretty well.”
Finding Joint Solutions
The relationship between this patient and physician spans more than two decades — and Simmons says that isn’t unusual in his practice. “I’m fortunate to have many patients I’ve known for years,” he said. “I’ve been able to spend time with them in the office, get to know them and build solid relationships. This seems to make the journey through surgery and rehabilitation go much more smoothly.”
Simmons says that communication is a cornerstone of his medical practice. “My philosophy is to listen to my patients, answer all their questions and treat them as I would like to be treated,” said Simmons.
Merritt had speedy recoveries after each of her three joint replacements. She has never needed a repeat operation on the same joint, and even the knee replacement that is 17 years old is holding up well.“Thanks to the surgeries, I can do the things that are important to me. My only regret is that I waited so long to get the surgeries done,” said Merritt.
“If anything goes wrong with another joint,” she added, “I’ll be calling Dr. Simmons.”