Getting Healthy Knees and His Smile Back With Joint Replacement Surgery

March 30, 2020
Todd Batchelder talking with St. Mary's healthcare staff member

Coping with knee pain used to be a way of life for Todd Batchelder. The problems started when he was a teenager and hyperextended his knee in a motorcycle crash. Next came years of football, baseball and physical work in his family’s plumbing, heating and air conditioning business.

“You’re on your knees, crawling, carrying around heavy stuff,” says Batchelder, who continues to work as a mechanical contractor in the community. 

After many years spent in hot attics doing physical and demanding jobs, he developed osteoarthritis in both knees. He had trouble taking time away from his life and work to get treatment, so he found ways to cope with the pain as best he could, but it was difficult. 

“I wore out the cartilage, both knees were just bone on bone,” he says. “There were days I couldn’t go to work because it was just too painful.” 

Finally, in spring 2019, he made an appointment with board-certified orthopedic surgeon David Keller, MD, to discuss the possibility of knee replacement surgery at St. Mary’s Joint Replacement Institute.

He also got to know the people at St. Mary’s Joint Replacement Institute, where patients get support preparing for surgery. “Those people are amazing,” he says. 

In meeting with Dr. Keller, he had a chance to see X-ray images of his knees and learn more about what surgery would entail. “He is very personable, just a really nice guy,” Batchelder says. “I would recommend him for knee replacements every single day.” 

Dr. Keller explains that surgery should be the last alternative after trying other methods for relief, which Batchelder did. By the time he’d decided to pursue surgery, he was taking multiple ibuprofen and pain relief pills “just to get through the day,” he says. Eager to feel better, Batchelder decided to have joint replacement surgery on both knees. He started with the right side; about 10 weeks later he had surgery on the left. 

“It was the smoothest, easiest thing medically that I have ever done,” he says.

“My first surgery was at 7:30 a.m. I got there at 6, woke up at 10:30.” By noon he was on his feet. Getting patients walking right away with a walker is one of the best practices in place at St. Mary’s to support the best possible outcomes. 

Batchelder’s recovery from both knee surgeries went smoothly, and within a few weeks he was walking without the walker. Dr. Keller says his swift rebound was likely impacted by his determination, preparation and positive attitude, which can play a role.

The difference Batchelder feels today both physically and in his mood is “night and day,” he says. “I smile a lot more, I enjoy my grandkids now.” 

His advice to others is not to wait to seek help. “Anybody that is experiencing knee pain and knows they have to get something done, go to your doctor, go to the Joint Camp at St. Mary’s. I waited 10 years, way too long. I should have done it a long time ago.”

Are you considering joint replacement?

Dr. David Keller has performed over 1,000 hip and knee replacement surgeries and shared these insights:

  • The surgery typically takes between one and two hours, and you can expect to be up and walking with a walker the same day. Most patients go home the day after surgery. 
  • “Prehab,” to get patients physically prepared for their surgery, as well as exercising after surgery, both play a key role. Studies show that even a few weeks of exercise prior to surgery can make a measurable difference in recovery.
  • It generally takes about six weeks before a person returns to work, but this timing may vary depending on an individual’s health and other factors. Most people will continue to see improvements for an entire year after joint replacement surgery.

Talk with your doctor about whether you may be a candidate for joint replacement, or call 580-249-3741 for a free physician referral.