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Joni's Story

Joni's Story

I feel as if I have my life back

To say Joni Mastronardi has a history of being physically active may be an understatement. In addition to a busy and active family life as a mother of two daughters and her work as a fifth-grade teacher, Joni played rigorous competitive tennis, walked the golf course (no golf cart for Joni), took aerobics classes and skied during the winter. Being active and involved was an integral part of her life.

Several years back, things started changing for Joni. Although she still had the vigor for the physical activities she loved, her knees ached and physical exercise was becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Visits to her Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene (CMC/DHK) orthopaedic surgeon, Cherie Holmes, M.D., confirmed Joni’s concern. The years of intense physical activity had adversely affected her knees and she had deterioration in both knee joints. Medication and injections into her knee joints were helpful, but as time passed, even these remedies weren’t enough to allow her to keep up with the things she loved to do. Friends and family members told her she was “walking differently.” Her husband, Anthony, would tell her it pained him to watch her walk. As time went on, it became obvious to Joni that something needed to be done. Walking up stairs, moving in her classroom, shopping and even short walks from the parking lot to the school building became painful and difficult. “I was hurting,” says Joni. “It used to be I could ice my knees, wait a few days and things would improve enough so I could function. Those things didn’t work anymore.”

The point of no return

At Dr. Holmes’ recommendation, Joni decided she would speak with DHK orthopaedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist, Anthony Presutti, M.D. “Things had gotten pretty bad,” recalls Joni. “I found I needed to hold onto the edge of the counter to walk in my kitchen and I worried how I’d get to the living room. I had to strategically place chairs in my classroom to hold onto or sit in because of the pain. I couldn’t live like this.” Dr. Presutti explained knee replacement surgery and agreed he could replace both knees at the same time. “Dr. Presutti was very reassuring and understood what I was going through. He told me my desire to have both knees replaced at the same time made sense and that there were even certain benefits of doing this. In my mind, I had reached the point of no return. In addition to Dr. Presutti, I spoke to other people who had both knees replaced,” recalls Joni. “I wanted to know how soon I would be able to walk. Would I be able to play golf? How soon after surgery could I drive? How limited would I be?” Joni also attended the CMC/DHK “Joint Replacement Camp,” an informational session during which joint replacement candidates meet with orthopaedic nurses, physical therapists and other clinicians to learn more about the procedure and have questions and concerns addressed. “It was great. It was reassuring and comforting for me to know what was going to happen.” Joni’s surgery took place at Cheshire Medical Center in March. “It was a fantastic experience. Many of the people taking care of me were people I knew. My fears and other concerns were put to rest and I felt my physical and emotional needs were well taken care of. I was surrounded by a team of competent and supportive people who were like friends (several actually were). Dr. Presutti’s nurse, Mark, was wonderful. He was always there for me before and after the procedure. The hospital nurses and aides, the night team in particular, were wonderful, as were the operating room nurses, the housekeeper and the physical therapists. Even the food was good.”

A quick recovery

Joni’s rehabilitation went without a hitch. She was navigating stairs the first day home and was driving and doing short errands in about six weeks. “My physical therapist, Penny Curran, was excellent. She was key to my being able to realize my goals of returning to the things I wanted to do. I had therapy three times a week for about two months. It wasn’t too long after the surgery before I was walking on my own—and without the horrible pain.

Now, five months later, I can walk anywhere. My husband and I walked two hours the other day. I can take my dog for long walks again and I walk the golf course. I play nine holes of golf without any difficulty—or any pain.” Joni notes she’s very pleased she was able to have both knee joints replaced at the same time. “I wouldn’t want to do it any other way. I got up and stood on both feet the first day after surgery. I felt balanced and I had no more pain in my knees. You have no idea how incredible it is after so many years of pain. I feel as if I have my life back.”