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Shoulder Replacement

Kay’s Story


Kay Caviness recently returned from an amazing vacation to South Dakota with family and friends – just four weeks after having her right shoulder replaced in an outpatient procedure at OrthoIllinois.

“We had a wonderful time,” said Kay. “I’m so glad I was able to go and enjoy it.”

Suffering from Pain

For years, Kay had been dealing with pain in her shoulder from arthritis, bone spurs and no cartilage. She also had knee pain. At age 60, Kay is in great shape and overall very healthy, but she admits that her joints are “falling apart.” Working as a cook at the Illinois Veterans Home in LaSalle was taking its toll, and she was eager to live life without constant pain.

“The pain impacted me the most when I was sleeping,” she said. “I could never get a good rest because the pain would always wake me up.” This was extremely frustrating because often she would have to work 12 or 14 hours days on very little rest.

When insurance denied her first attempt for a consultation with another provider, a friend recommended Kay go to OrthoIllinois, and she’s glad she made the call. Within three weeks of Kay’s first visit with Geoffrey Van Thiel, MD, she was headed to surgery for a complete shoulder reconstruction, despite her initial hesitation to have surgery.

“A shoulder replacement is major surgery and I thought, ‘Do I really need this?’” she said. “But Dr. Van Thiel was very thorough in explaining the pros and cons.” Once the decision was made, Kay had her surgery at OrthoIllinois’ Surgery Center as an outpatient experience. “It was a beautiful facility and everyone was so nice and kind,” Kay said. “I felt very confident because everyone did their job so well and it all went so smoothly.”

And while many people may not want to take a vacation that involved hiking, horseback riding and a lot of sightseeing only four weeks after having a shoulder replaced, Kay was ready for it and Dr. Van Thiel was confident she would do just fine.

“Dr. Van Thiel wanted me to go on vacation, but of course he said to stay off the trails,” Kay said. “So, I did my ‘hikes’ to the quilt shops!”

Kay also wanted to make sure her trip didn’t derail her physical therapy progress, so she made sure she kept up with her recommended PT exercises every day on vacation, which she said is one of the reasons she is progressing so well.

As she continues her physical therapy and awaits her knee surgery, Kay is glad that the other provider would not accept her insurance.

“I am so thankful I came to OrthoIllinois,” Kay said. “I was scared to have surgery, but OrthoIllinois took that fear away,” Kay said. “And Dr. Van Thiel is just great. He called me three times after my surgery to check on me. I will always appreciate the care they gave me, everyone was wonderful to work with.”

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