Joint replacement gets couple back to what they love
As lifelong Monroe County residents, it seemed inevitable that Tom and Jeanette Thompson would one day meet. They attended the same elementary school, but didn’t know each other then. It wasn’t until they were in high school and that one of Jeanette’s friends introduced the two.
“I met her while I was working at Jolly’s Root Beer Stand, that’s the corner of 15th and Walnut in Bloomington. I was, what, how old? 16 years old?,” remembers Tom.
“Yeah, you had a new car,” adds Jeanette.
And the rest is history. They married and began a family. Both went to work with the Monroe County Community School Corporation – Tom as a teacher and later a principal and Jeanette as a school secretary. Through the years, they worked hard to provide for their family and now enjoy retirement.
They keep in close touch with their two children and five grandchildren and love having the kids around the house.
“They really like coming down here. It’s like camp where they can fish and ride the golf cart and do the things kids like to do and we have time to do with them,” says Tom.
As a couple who wants to be able to play with their grandkids and not just watch, being physically active and able to easily move around is important to the Thompsons. When joint pain started affecting both Jeanette and Tom at the same time, their ability to play with their grandkids and be active was put into question.
“I first noticed my when we were on a cruise,” Jeanette remembers. “We were getting off of a bus to go to a land tour, and my knee gave out.”
For Tom, the process was more gradual. Accomplishing everyday tasks wasn’t as easy it used to be.
“It’s hard to get on the tractor and mow if you can’t get on the tractor, you know. It’s no fun to hoe in the garden if you can’t get down on your hands and knees,” he says.
The couple met with their primary care physician and then chose Orthopedic Surgeon Jonathan Surdam, MD at IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians to talk about joint replacement surgery.
“I heard nothing but good things about Dr. Surdam, and I know he does it often,” says Tom. “I want somebody who does it every week. I don’t want someone who does it twice a year, I want him doing that constantly because if a problem comes up, he’s going to be able to handle it. And I kind of liked the guy.”
For Dr. Surdam, having two patients from the same family both suffering from nearly debilitating joint pain at the same time posed a unique set of challenges.
“I think that in their unique situation where they both needed a joint replacement, it was important that we figured out who was going to help who,” says Dr. Surdam. “Tom was very worried about Jeanette so we decided that she would be the one to get her knee fixed first.”
In February 2011, Tom and Jeanette arrived at IU Health Bloomington Hospital for Jeanette’s knee replacement. Their first step toward getting back to the life they love.
“They get you right up, you know, and get you walking, you know, that day. And you think ‘oh my goodness, I don’t think I can do this,’ but you know you’re not in any pain,” says Jeanette. “It was all very positive.”
At IU Health Bloomington Hospital, the joint replacement program is all focused on the patient’s success.
“We have a group of nurses who are dedicated to joint replacements and private rooms at the hospital so you don’t have to worry about what your neighbor is experiencing, and a team that has been doing this for a long time now that is very well versed on the care and recovery of the total joint replacement patient,”
As Jeanette recovered, Dr. Surdam and the couple planned for Tom’s hip replacement surgery. In April, the Thompsons were back at IU Health Bloomington Hospital for Tom’s turn at surgery.
“They’re good people, caring people. They know what they’re doing, they’ll take care of me and give it their best shot and that’s what I feel like I got,” says Tom. “I’ll probably have to have my other hip done and if I have it done, I will go back and Dr. Surdam will do it.”
Today, the Thompsons’ have fully recovered and are enjoying their life together with their family, including their grandkids. And, remembering to appreciate each and every improvement.
“Aidan, our 9-year-old grandson, says, ‘well you’re doing better Nana, you can get up now. Before you couldn’t even get down,’” Jeanette says.
For Tom, it’s the small things that are adding up to a big win.
“I can get in my boat off of the dock. Rather than getting down on my hands and knees and then trying to get in the boat, I can actually stand up now and get back in the boat. That’s victory for me,” he says.
In the end, it all comes back to family for the Thompsons and creating a great life and experience for their children and grandkids.
“Jeanette and I are not going to leave a legacy on this Earth of some great magnitude. We’re not great scholars, and we’re not great inventors, so forth and so on. We’re going to leave a family,” Tom says. “Our grandson was in the boat yesterday in the pond to catch a three-pound fish and it dragged the boat around. He will remember that. Those are the kind of things that the kids will remember. That’s the kind of legacy that we’re going to leave on this Earth.”