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Home |  Patient Stories |  My Real Life Left Leg Story: Charlie N’s Story

My Real Life Left Leg Story: Charlie N’s Story

Charlie Notarus began treatment for his arthritic left knee with IBJI’s Richard Sherman, MD in 2010. Throughout Charlie’s  life, he had almost five near-death experiences that resulted in emergency surgery. Given the nature of his past experiences, Charlie had some apprehension to surgery and wanted to make sure he was exhausting all other options before it came to surgery. 

Through the course of his care at IBJI, Charlie had chosen a conservative route of treatment. In November of 2018, he continued to see Dr. Sherman for treatments such as steroid injections, viscosupplementation, and physical therapy.

During vacation in Paris, he noticed increased back and knee strain. The pain had become so bad that immediately upon his return, he scheduled an appointment with Dr. Sherman. Dr. Sherman took some scans and learned that Charlie’s vertebrae was out of alignment, resulting in a pinched nerve. He recommended that Charlie see IBJI’s Brooke Vanderby, MD, pain specialist, for cortisone injections, while he continued with his physical therapy at IBJI’s Glenview clinic and debated his next steps.

In July of 2019, Dr. Sherman told Charlie that if he were to continue getting more cortisone shots, the injections would eventually stop being beneficial and in turn cause more strain on his knee. Charlie asked, “if it was time for surgery and Dr. Sherman told him that it was.” A total knee replacement was scheduled.

To help Charlie prepare for his upcoming surgery, he was set up with the OrthoSync program. This program helped to put resources in place to make surgery an easy process. At the physicians assistant desk in Bannockburn, Charlie was able to put together a schedule to see out-of-network general doctors and cardiologists for tests to make sure he was a good candidate for surgery. The ease of the process is what made Charlie’s experience so unique. “IBJI planned this whole thing out; that is what is so amazing to me,” says Charlie. The OrthoSync program also provided him with a folder of options about surgery centers, aftercare, and in-home rehab. He also received scans and got his blood drawn. At IBJI Highland Park, Charlie was asked about his physical health, giving an initial evaluation about the status of his health.  

“From day one to today, the process that I went through with IBJI is so smooth that I never had to worry, they were in control,” said Charlie, “I didn’t have to talk to anybody, IBJI makes the patient feel comfortable and secure.”

In September of 2019, Charlie had a total knee replacement for his left knee. He then started physical therapy and was released for in-home care after just one week. Next, Charlie began his routine physical therapy at IBJI’s Bannockburn facility three times a week. It was at this point in time where he met Bannockburn physical therapists Melissa Romero and Rebecca Ogiela. With a home exercise program, hours of instruction in the clinic, manual massage, and strengthening exercises, Charlie began to notice improvements in his knee that he hadn’t previously seen.

“Every morning they put me through my paces. We joked around, [I would say] ‘When I see you smile, I know I’m going to be in pain, but the pain is good so continue on,’” said Charlie. During his last visits, Charlie bought cookies and a large cake for the staff as a symbol of his appreciation. 

 

After graduating from therapy, Charlie recalls what Rebecca and Melissa would always repeat back to him that motivated his recovery and helped him through the moments of swelling and pain. “One thing we tell everyone is that your body wants to move. So… you need to make that leg walk because that is what it needs to do,” Charlie repeated. Thinking back over his therapy, Charlie said, “recovery is also a mental process, and when a patient can feel comfortable and confident, then they can go through the pain, conquer it and move on.”

Charlie commends Dr. Sherman for going the extra mile in his care. When he had back pain, Dr. Sherman made sure to refer Charlie to Dr. Vanderby for care. Dr. Sherman also noticed that Charlie was pigeon-toed and corrected this issue during surgery so that Charlie could structurally heal.

“These people are not only knowledgeable but they are personable. Dr. Sherman is both the finest surgeon and a man who has compassion and understanding and presents himself that way as he takes you through major surgery. [IBJI] is so tight with their process, that you make the patient feel comfortable and secure. I kept telling Melissa and Rebecca, you guys have a heck of an organization, you’re not only being real and comforting but when it comes down to you have to do this to get to this point, you are firm but palatable. “

Now at 75 years old, Charlie is taking advantage of working full time and getting the most out of his surgery, walking anywhere from 2 to 7.5 miles in a day.

 

Richard Sherman, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating disorders of the knee, hip and shoulder, including sports injuries, trauma and the various forms of arthritis.

Our OrthoSync patients are part of an innovative new program that starts with a total musculoskeletal evaluation before surgery to create a customize care plan specifically for you. Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, OrthoSync strives to take into account all of the factors that can influence your recovery. Ultimately this will allow your physician & their team as well as your physical therapist to provide you with important information about OrthoSync rehabilitation partners to help guide you through your recovery for a great outcome.