America at Its Best: Memorable Moments from Kitch’s Total Knee Replacement Surgery, Part 2.

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2014
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

There is no medication like hope, no incentive so great and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow. Orison Swett Marden

Doctors of Hope

Kitch began her second in the hospital at with a visit from our family doctor, Dr. Sal Lawrence. Dr. LawrenceKitch_4227 has been treating members of Kitch’s family for years. He is available, encouraging and helpful. He maintains a very successful practice which is designed to treat the patient as a member of the family.

On this day he walked into Kitch’s room at 7 a.m. As Kitch recalls it, he began his conversation with a very positive progress report. The surgery went well. The pain is being controlled. Then he asked Kitch how she was feeling.

Before Dr. Lawrence left the room, he offered encouragement and support.

Then it happened. Kitch had breakfast, and she took a variety of pills that are designed to help manage pain. She had a negative reaction to the medications.

Dr. Schmaltz & Kitch_4238

Shortly after this unfortunate episode, Kitch’s surgeon Dr. Harry Schmaltz made the first of two visits to her room.

He reinforced what Dr. Lawrence said about the procedure adding one important detail. The operation enabled him to straighten Kitch’s leg.

He addressed the issue Kitch was having with the medications. He prescribed some alternatives, and he assured her the condition will be carefully monitored.

Kitch remembers two things from this visit:

1. The good news the valgus deformity had been corrected and her leg was straight;

2. The kind and helpful manner of Dr. Harry Schmaltz when he inquired about the problems she was having with nausea and dizziness.

When I arrived at the hospital at 9 a.m., Kitch told me about her situation, and she shared the details of her visit with Dr. Schmaltz:

“He was very solicitous. He offered a concrete solution. He made a point to do everything he could to get me relief.”

Just as she finished that sentence, a nurse arrived with the new medication. For the rest of the morning Kitch rested.

At 9:26 a.m., Dr. Schmaltz returned to Kitch’s room to check on her. He assured Kitch that everything would be OK. He told herDr. Schmaltz & Kitch_4241 about the new medications, and what she could expect.

As I listened and watched Dr. Schmaltz work with Kitch, I thought to myself this is a good man. He genuinely cares about his patient. He is a surgeon with a heart and an ability to effectively connect with his patient.

His parting words to the both of us were very reassuring, “We will watch this situation carefully. There are no absolute deadlines. We will take it one day at a time.” His kind words gave us hope.

News of the Day

Obviously we were worried. We needed something to lift our spirits, and it happened when Betsy Guinan entered the room.

With a pleasant smile of encouragement and understanding, Betsy IMG_4928bgave Kitch the second edition of the NEW STEPS NEWS. The headline read KATHLEEN MUSSARI HAS A NEW KNEE. The six articles addressed the road to recovery, the removal of the bandages, the drain and the IV tubing, the first steps to recovery and the importance of going home.

Unfortunately, all these things had to be delayed until Kitch was able to stabilize her system and process food.

Betsy and the other nurses who visited Kitch throughout the day were very helpful in this regard. They attended to all of her needs in a very professional and effective way.

At about 10 a.m. a physical therapist and an intern arrived. Because of Kitch’s weakened condition, the physical therapy session was postponed.

Special Visitors

At 12:15 p.m., Kitch received her first visitor Dr. Gale Jagger. Gale has been our friend since the day we met almost 20 years ago. SheGale & Kitch_4272 is a delightful person who is blessed with a great mind and a caring heart. Before coming to Marywood, Gale worked in the corporate world. Gale taught in the business division at Marywood until her retirement in 2013.

For about 20 minutes, she shared funny stories about her adventures with her grandson and her mother. Her laughter was infectious, and it was great medicine for Kitch.

At 2:15 p.m. an impressive young man named Cameron visited with Kitch. Cameron is studying to become a physical therapist. He has everything C visitit takes to be a very successful health care professional, the gift of compassion, the art of conversation, the tact of a diplomat along with the desire to become a competent and skilled practitioner.

It was obvious that Kitch would not be able to do any strenuous exercises so Cameron took measurements of the movement of her knee.

When Cameron left, Kitch asked me to turn out the lights so she could get some rest. For the next two hours she slept.

At 5:15 p.m. there was a knock at the door, and much to our delight when the door opened Pete and Joanie Loftus, Kitch’s brother andKitch Brother and Sister-in-Law_4294 sister-in-law, crossed the threshold.
The room filled with the positive energy, laughter, interesting stories and quips that are central to any family reunion.

Kitch is very fond of her brother and his wife. They both have a special place in her heart. Their unexpected visit provided a very happy ending to a long day.

Going Home

Before I left the hospital, I visited with one of Kitch’s night nurses, and I thanked her for her kindness to Kitch.

On my way to the parking garage, I heard a voice call me from a white car. When I turned to see who it was, I looked in disbelief. It was Dr. Schmaltz.

He was returning to the hospital.

For the next 10 minutes or so, we had a great conversation about Kitch’s condition and his hope that she would be released tomorrow.

For my part, I told him that we were very impressed by the quality of his care and the effectiveness of his team.

That comment enabled him to share his idea that healthcare professionals working together as a team is essential for positive patient outcomes. Every member of the team is important.

James Lane Allen, a novelist and short story writer, believed that adversity does not build character. It reveals it. Everything that happened during Kitch’s second day in the hospital reinforced the truth and wisdom of that statement.

Several times while I was driving home, I thought about the events Betsy & Kitch_4258of this day. Every time I reconstructed the sights and scenes in Kitch’s hospital room, I said to myself how fortunate we were to connect with Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists.

Yes, there were inconveniences and a few delicate moments, but during those moments Dr. Schmaltz, Betsy and the nurses who took care of Kitch did everything they could to address the situation in an expeditious way. She was never neglected. On the contrary, everything that happened provided an occasion for these professionals to do the things they were trained to do in a compassionate and effective way.

Every person who entered our room gave us hope that tomorrow would be a better day.

Orison Swett Marden, a man who spent a lifetime writing about success and how to achieve it, was right. Hope is the best medicine.

When I closed my eyes to end the day, I was convinced that tomorrow would be a better day.

Thank you, Betsy

Thank you, Cameron

Thank You, Gale

Thank you, Pete and Joanie

Thank you, Dr. Lawrence

Thank you, Dr. Schmaltz and all the nurses and medical professionals who helped us.

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