Lakeland Health Care

Joint Center Testimonials

For ten years, climbing stairs was a way of life for Joyce Yard.

She owned a charming, three-story bed and breakfast establishment in Jonesville, Michigan, and a routine day meant dozens of trips up and down stairs, catering to her guests.

Gradually, Joyce's knees gave out, until she remembers tearfully crawling up the stairs to do her daily chores as an innkeeper.

The 64-year old suffered from osteoarthritis and by the time she sought help for her condition, her knees were literally "bone on bone," she recalls. The simple act of putting her foot on the floor caused severe pain.

That's when she consulted Dr. Robert Schaefer, an orthopedic surgeon who operates a medical practice in Portage, in addition to serving as director of Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet's Center for Joint Replacement Surgery in Watervliet.

"He was so personable," says Joyce, who felt right at home with Schaefer and took his advice to elect knee replacement surgery.

Joyce had both knees replaced five years ago, both at the same time, and the results have been life-changing.

"Having this surgery was the best thing I ever did," she says. "The only regret I have is that I waited so long!"

Following her bi-lateral knee replacement, Joyce resumed an active life, and was so enamored of Dr. Schaefer she now works for him in his Portage office.

"Now, I can get on a ladder, use a snow blower...I can even do this," she says, bending all the way to the floor to show her full range of motion. "I have no pain. Even my grandkids notice the difference in me."

Joyce's surgical experience at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet was excellent, and she says there's no question she'll return there when and if she needs hip replacement.

"When I need my hips done, it's going to be by 'Dr. Bob,'" she says, referring to Dr. Schaefer. "I love my knees - and I mean LOVE!"

Two years ago, Ron, a 54-year old suffering from severe hip pain, got an unexpected Christmas gift.

Forced to use crutches from debilitating pain, he opted to have both hips replaced during the holiday season at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet.

After two successful surgeries, he went home the day before Christmas Eve, with a gift more precious than any he found under the Christmas tree.

"I got my life back," says Ron. "I've been totally restored to health."

Prior to his surgeries, Ron found himself on a downward spiral of pain as his hips degenerated to the point where the car trips he routinely made for work became agony. He was slowly forced to give up favorite activities, such as golf and racquetball.

"The pain took away my day-to-day life completely," says Ron. "I couldn't concentrate by the end of the day. It was so overwhelming."

Ron and his wife met with Dr. Robert Schaefer, an orthopedic surgeon and director of Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet's Center for Joint Replacement Surgery.

"We liked him right away," Ron recalls. "We saw him on a Saturday morning in his office. He explained everything completely and took his time with us."

Ron's first surgery was performed in early November, and his second seven weeks later, which meant he had to spend the holiday season in the hospital.

"We watched Christmas movies!" Ron laughs. "The staff was fabulous. The rooms were very comfortable and my wife stayed there with me."

Thanks to his surgery, Ron has been able to resume his interest in sports. He now bicycles, is involved in a spinning program and is virtually "pain-free."

Ron is grateful for the hospitality and expert care he received at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet. But mostly, he appreciates the irreplaceable gift he took home two years ago.

"One day I was in pain, the next I was out," Ron says. "My life is like night and day. I have a saying, now: It's 'hip' to be me!"

Paul Christy, 68, remembers his days as a professional wrestler in Chicago.

He was named Rookie of the Year in 1960 and was affectionately called "Golden Boy Christy" by the wrestlers who knew him best.

Christy's sports life took him to Brazil, introduced him to professionals such as Hulk Hogan, and led him to write a book about his adventures called "The Many Faces of Paul Christy."

His had an active life: until hip pain set him on the sidelines.

Christy's hip problems took him out of the ring, and led him to a debilitated state "where I couldn't do anything," he recalls. "I had a cane. Then a walker. I was in pain all of the time."

Then, he met Dr. Robert Schaefer, an orthopedic surgeon who is director of Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet's Center for Joint Replacement Surgery. Schaefer told Christy he could benefit from hip replacement, and encouraged him to elect surgery.

"I like Dr. Schaefer. He is someone you can talk to, very personable and someone you just know you can trust," Christy says.

After consulting with Dr. Schaefer, Christy's mind was made up. He opted for surgery.

"I knew it had to be a good idea if 'Doc Schaefer' recommended it," he says.

The former wrestler had one hip replaced in September of 2005 and the second six months later. In between hip procedures, he also underwent open heart surgery.

Christy's fighting spirit carried him through all three surgeries. He now lifts weights and enjoys the active life that has been both passion and vocation for him.

"Now I can run, jump - I can do anything," Christy says enthusiastically.

He is grateful for the professional care he received at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet, and is enjoying a life free from pain. When asked about his experiences at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet, he is quick to say: "On a scale of 1 to 10, my experience was a 20!

Nothing gets in the way of Carolyn Selby's daily three-mile walk.

The 77-year old Portage resident began experiencing hip pain several years ago, after winning a fistful of awards for her race-walking skills, including a 2005 gold medal in the Michigan Senior Olympics.

She opted to have her right hip replaced at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet one year ago. The procedure not only put her back in the race, she earned a first place award in a 5K competition she entered less than a year after her surgery.

Selby, who suffers from severe osteoarthritis, was treated by Dr. Robert Schaefer, an orthopedic surgeon who directs Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet's Center for Joint Replacement Surgery.

Our Joint Replacement Center offers hip and knee replacement, using state-of-the-art techniques, including small incision, minimally invasive and computer guided procedures.

Selby says her stay at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet was "wonderful," and she describes Dr. Schaefer as not only "very gifted," but a "real friend."

This intrepid race-walker spent less than a week using a walker after her surgery and soon resumed her daily tri-mile trek. This summer, she'll participate in the National Senior Olympics in Louisville, Ky.

Selby says her quick recovery time, and the hospitality she experienced at Lakeland Community Hospital Watervliet made her surgery a winning experience.

"At Community Hospital, I wasn't just another number," says Selby. "What's more, I am now pain-free. And that's the best part of all."

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