Nutrition and Fitness, Women's Health, Your Health Tamar Raucher | 6 years ago

Dancer Finds Right Steps with Knee Replacement Surgery

If Mollie Taylor could choreograph her own life like a dance routine, she certainly wouldn’t have her knees develop osteoarthritis at age 57.

“Dancing was probably the singular most important thing in my life,” said Taylor. “Dancing, that was just it.” With her first doctor’s visit, she learned the cause of her pain: osteoarthritis. While this condition can affect any joint in the body, it occurs commonly in knees and hips. Since Taylor had danced most of her life, semi-professionally and as a teacher, this made sense. For 18 years, Taylor lived with the pain. Arthroscopic surgery helped a little as did cortisone shots in her knees. The knee pain became unrelenting and her ability to dance slowly diminished. The gaps between shots were getting shorter and shorter, and handling errands or maintaining her yard and home became daily struggles. She became frustrated. Her lack of mobility contributed to her weight gain. Her weight gain contributed to a minor bout of depression. Ultimately, her overall declining quality of life caused serious anxiety. Taylor consulted with her orthopedic surgeon again and attended an “enlightening” Carolinas HealthCare System Joint Camp where most of her questions and concerns were answered. By this time she had grown more comfortable with the idea of joint surgery, but she still asked her orthopedic surgeon when she should actually have it done. “He said, ‘I think you’ll know,’” Taylor said. “Sure enough, about a week later a security guard had to wheel me to my car because I couldn’t walk. So the next morning I was in his office scheduling that surgery.” Her first knee-joint replacement took place in 2013. The other knee joint was replaced in February 2015. Though the post-surgery pain caused obvious discomfort, and she had to push through tough rehab sessions, Taylor steadily experienced improvement. She also started integrating ballet into her exercise routine, which made all the difference physically, mentally and emotionally. Almost 13 weeks after her surgery, Taylor had found her new normal. She was walking a couple of miles every day. “There was no pain,” she said. “I had the physical ability to take care of my house, my yard, and my errands, and join my family on outings and events.” At 75, Taylor had gone from barely able to walk to contemplating a hike with her family this fall. Taylor attributes the stunning turnaround to her orthopedic surgeon. But for those who know Taylor, they say her indomitable spirit is the main reason her quality of life dramatically improved. Though she can’t dance as much as she used to, the fact that she can, just a little, makes all the difference in the world. “In my heart and mind I am still a ballerina,” she said. “I think I’m a young 75 years old. Now there isn’t anything I can’t do.”