May 29, 2018
My name is Teck-Seng Kwa and I am a 58-year-old systems engineer contractor at NASA Langley Research Center. I have lived on the Peninsula for almost 30 years.
I was mowing my lawn back in 2012, and afterward, I noticed my knees started hurting. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. However, the pain persisted on a vacation to the theme parks in Orlando where we were walking a lot. It became so intense that I eventually just let my group go on without me because I was slowing everyone down. When I got home from that trip, I went to a doctor, and he told me the cartilage in both of my knees was almost completely gone and I had the start of arthritis. He suggested I get dual knee replacements, but I was 52 at the time and did not like that option. We tried injection therapy as a conservative treatment, but for me and my condition, they did not help very much.
I am very analytical, so making a decision to have my knees replaced involved quite a bit of research and seminars over the course of a couple years. Still, nothing convinced me it was worth the risk. Looking back, it may have been that I didn’t have total trust and confidence in the surgeon I was seeing at that time.
As my arthritis continued to advance, the pain did as well. It got to a point where just standing or walking became quite an issue, and the pain would keep me up at night. As a result of overcompensating for the pain, I started becoming bowlegged. At that point, my neighbor recommended I see Dr. Colin Kingston, a knee and sports medicine specialist at Tidewater Orthopaedics.
When I had my appointment with Dr. Kingston, he took some X-rays and showed me that my knees were completely shot and the only solution was knee replacements. The difference with Dr. Kingston was that he took time to show me a sample of the artificial knee joint, explaining that it had a working life of 30+ years, and he also fully described the entire surgical process. I was extremely impressed with the specialized computer navigation system he uses, which is one of the best in the country.
He then told me that because of my good physical health, he thought I would make a great candidate to get this procedure done in the outpatient setting, but I would be the first patient to do it this way, as they were just rolling out the program. I trusted him, so I agreed to it.
On November 17, I arrived at CarePlex Orthopaedic Ambulatory Surgery Center (COASC) for the procedure on my right knee. I arrived at 5:30 a.m., and they took me back right away to get started. I remember being woken up and not even realizing the surgery had been done! Within the first hour, I was walking up and down the hallway with my walker, and by noon, I was released to go home! I felt extremely well prepared going home from the surgery center, and the staff made sure to coordinate a program, so I never felt like being at home was a disadvantage to being in a hospital setting. I received personal phone calls from Brandon, the surgery center administrator, and Dr. Kingston to check on my progress.
The next two weeks were spent recovering and doing in-home physical therapy to make sure my knee didn’t stiffen up. Then, on December 1, I went in for the same procedure on my left knee. By that time, my right knee had recovered enough to be slightly advanced so both knees weren’t healing at the same time, which is what Dr. Kingston recommended.
My at-home recovery was a very positive experience overall. I was very impressed that when I had some questions and concerns come up, Brandon called me and arranged for me to see Dr. Kingston the next day to address them. I started going to a physical therapist in January twice a week for three months and my knees began to feel stronger and gain more range of motion. Now, I am about seven months out from surgery, and I am able to walk straight without any pain. I have regained most of my range of motion, and Dr. Kingston said that by the twelve-month mark, I should have full range of motion.
I am so thankful my neighbor recommended that I go see Dr. Kingston. The entire staff at Tidewater Orthopaedics and COASC was professional, courteous, and well trained. Their focus on teamwork is apparent, and it makes the patient experience and quality of care top notch. I would refer any of my friends and family to Dr. Kingston with 100% confidence—and for someone who took five years to debate if getting my knees replaced was worth the risk, that says a lot.