“I just love Dr. FitzGibbons because he opened doors for me that I thought were closing or closed. I never thought that at 72, I’d be the guy running the bases for my teammates, but I can, and I do! “
Don Carpenter was an athlete in high school and college. As a freshman, he made the basketball team at Culver-Stockton College, a 4-year Liberal Arts Christian College located in northeast Missouri and part of the NAIA Organization. That team has since been inducted into Culver-Stockton’s Hall of Fame. “Not because of me,” says Don.
Don was married shortly after college and quickly started a family. Like many people, Don found that establishing a career and raising children left little time for playing sports. But when his kids became teenagers, and as all teenagers had little time for parents, he started playing basketball again in a recreational league.
In the early 1990s, while playing basketball, he went up for a rebound, was undercut, and popped his leg. His ACL was torn. Don’s first encounter with Dr. FitzGibbons was to repair his ACL. “I was just so impressed with Dr. FitzGibbons. He gave me a nerve block which allowed me to be awake during the surgery and watch the procedure. I watched images from the small camera, the endoscope, on the monitor in the operating room as he cleaned up the cartilage. I was able to participate in sports again, and I was so happy.”
In his early 50s, Don started playing senior competitive softball. Blessed with a natural ability to hit the ball really far, Don started at the bottom of the league and quickly made it to the top. For years he played, and everything felt good: but then he started to experience pain in his knee. The pain became so intense that one of his teammates would have to run the bases for him after a hit. In 2013 Don got his 1st Cortisone shot, and it worked wonders! It lasted longer than expected -about a year. The second shot was a completely different story; it didn’t provide any relief at all. “When Dr. FitzGibbons examined me, he asked, “Can you hear it?” And I could! It was the sound of bone on bone arthritis, and it was time to get the joint replaced. I immediately set up a total knee replacement surgery in November 2014.”
Don was realistic about his ability to play softball after his surgery and thought it was a 50-50 chance. Dr. FitzGibbons knew Don was an athlete and ensured that the implant he used was the best choice for Don. Upon waking from surgery, Don walked immediately. In fact, he wouldn’t quit. He walked around the hospital floor 3 times until the nurse demanded, “stop!” He was diligent about his physical therapy and was recovering quickly. “Do what they say! No more and no less. Obey and work hard at rehabilitation.” Don was told to wait 4-6 months to play ball again. He got back on the field just over 4 months after surgery with the permission of Dr. FitzGibbons. “I never thought that at 72, I’d be the guy running the bases for my teammates, but I can, and I do! I run like a teenager now! I haven’t had an ounce of pain in that knee since.”
“I have total trust in Dr. FitzGibbons. I have no pain – zero, nothing for 4 years and counting– and I don’t have to take any ibuprofen. The knee replacement has kept me actively participating in sports and allowed me to travel internationally with my beautiful wife. I have my life and activity level back. I was afraid they were gone forever. But NO! Didn’t happen! I am so grateful I went to such a GREAT surgeon!”
You’re not ready to climb Mount Everest. But like Don, you are ready to get back to the life you lived before your injury. OCR is here to support you on the road to recovery. From our outpatient surgery and recovery center to our physical therapy department and imaging, our entire team will care for you from head to toe to help you become the champion of your lifestyle.