When Ronald Arndt wasn't working as a carpenter or a construction worker in the northwest suburbs, he could often be found in his boat fishing at one of his favorite lakes. After work, he often headed to lakes in the Chicago area and southern Wisconsin to reel in northern pike, bass and blue gill.
But his favorite pastime of fishing took a back seat in 2013 when Ronald began feeling pain in his groin area. The discomfort eventually traveled to his knee.
"I was fishing with my partner and I couldn't get out of the boat," Ronald recalls. "The day I can't get in and out of my boat doing something I love meant I had to visit a doctor and do something about the pain."
After his physician took X-rays, Ronald learned there was no cartilage remaining in his hip socket, resulting on bone-on-bone contact in the joint.
"My hip would lock up and it was the worst pain I had ever endured," Ronald says. "I was going to need hip replacement surgery."
Ronald turned to Northwest Community Healthcare's Joint Replacement Program, which offers a Fast Track option for patients who are highly motivated to pursue a quick recovery. The program offers an earlier hospital discharge, accelerated recovery plan and a quick return to pain-free living.
He started the program by attending a Joint Replacement class at NCH where he learned about the process of recovery and how to prepare his home for his arrival after surgery. Ronald also learned how to work with healthcare providers and physical therapists who would be coming to his home for therapy sessions.
"The class I attended at NCH was great," Ronald says. "They told me exactly what I needed to know in advance of the surgery and how I could prepare."
Ronald tapped Thomas Kim, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon on staff at NCH, to replace his right hip last October. The two-hour operation was scheduled on a Thursday. By Saturday, Ronald was back at home and beginning his road to recovery.
"We got Ronald on an accelerated recovery plan and in six weeks he was cleared to work," Dr. Kim says. "He was grateful."
On the day of surgery, a Fast Track patient at NCH is scheduled for one of the first two procedures in the morning. That afternoon, the patient has one physical therapy session in the hospital room.
"I was up walking the hallways of the hospital within hours after the operation," Ronald says. "I was determined to get back to my active lifestyle."
Physical and occupational therapists visit the patient the day after surgery and work on getting out of bed for activities. On the second day after surgery, the patient usually has a physical therapy session in the morning and then is discharged around lunchtime. That afternoon, the home healthcare nurse and physical therapist will come to the patient's home for their first visit. Regular visits from the nurse and physical therapist continue until the patient can transition into outpatient therapy. As part of the Fast Track program, a patient must have a coach or caregiver stay with them 24 hours a day for the first 3 days.
Ronald walked around his house using a walker six times a day for one month following his surgery. After he mastered moving around the home, Ronald started walking outdoors. A few weeks after that milestone, Ronald was driving his car. He was headed to his favorite fishing hole. "Fishing brings peace and serenity for me," Ronald says.