Taking a leap of faith – literally

A permanent fix for knee pain is one woman’s miracle

Lorrie was born with a knee cap defect that has resulted in pain and other issues in both knees her entire life. She is 42 years old, has had five procedures, suffered from various injuries and has seen countless doctors but hadn’t had much luck in achieving a long-term fix for her knee pain. “It’s frustrating to have to put your life on hold to fix something and not be given the reassurance that there will be a good outcome,” says Lorrie.

Lorrie’s mother, Sibyl, has been her sole caretaker and by her side every step of the way. However, a few years ago, Lorrie decided to take a leap of faith (literally) and move 1,500 miles away from her family in Houston, to Boston, Massachusetts to fulfill her vocation to become a Catholic sister. “My goal is to be fit and healthy, so I can fulfill my mission to help other people,” says Lorrie. But Lorrie’s knee pain continued to hold her back. She received her diagnosis for a double knee replacement while residing in Boston and was forced to relocate back to Texas to find a surgeon and receive the support that was required after a major operation.

After some issues and frustration searching for a surgeon that her insurance would accept, she finally found Dr. Karl Koenig, the Medical Director for the Musculoskeletal Institute at UT Health Austin and immediately called to schedule an appointment. “It was wonderful to be able to come into such a nice facility where my insurance would be accepted,” says Lorrie, “my first appointment was very long but Dr. Koenig sat down with me and discussed my goals, what the procedure was, how it would work, and I also talked with other people, like a social worker and dietitian. I was really overwhelmed by how amazing the system was.”

Lorrie’s mother was so happy that the team of providers seemed to be concerned with her daughter as a whole person, instead of just her knee problem. “We didn’t get that in Houston,” says Sibyl, “they have a wonderful medical system but they were missing the personal feature.”

Lorrie was able to schedule her surgery with Dr. Koenig in spring 2018 and has been recovering very well with physical therapy at home. She mentioned it was such a relief to let go of so much stress and pain her condition had been causing her in the past. “It’s a permanent fix, and this whole system has just been such a miracle for me. My roots are here in Texas, and to be able to get it at home and have such great support, it really means a lot,” exclaims Lorrie.

Her number one goal she discussed with her care team was to be mobile again so she can get back to pursuing her sisterhood. As a part of tracking her progress towards achieving her goal, Lorrie is also participating in a FitBit study with the college of engineering here at The University of Texas at Austin. They tracked her steps and mobility before surgery and are tracking her after surgery and so far there’s already been a major improvement.

“Having someone listen to me and who was excited to help me get better was great,” she says, “It’s also neat that it’s not just all on the doctor’s shoulders but that it’s an entire team approach. Who knew it was right here in downtown Austin.”

She plans to move back to Boston after she’s made a full recovery to continue to pursue her sisterhood and she had one piece of advice for patients who may be suffering like she was – “Don’t give up, there is hope, and just know there has to be a way. If you are in pain, there is always a way to get the help you need.”

Make UT Health Austin’s Musculoskeletal integrated care team part of managing or treating your joint pain by scheduling an evaluation at uthealthausting.org. Or you can call 833.UT.CARES (833.882.2737).

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin, the group practice designed and managed by the faculty and staff of the Dell Medical School, focuses the expertise of a team of experienced medical professionals to deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality. Our experienced healthcare professionals treat each patient as an individual, with unique circumstances, priorities and beliefs. Working with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room, and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.