In 2013, my then 76-year old grandmother underwent a procedure at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for two Total Knee Replacements (TKR). Her condition prior to surgery was not optimistic, she could barely bend both knees, walking was painful and arduous, and she required the use of a walking stick everywhere we went – she adamantly refuses a wheelchair. Immediately post operation, she was still feeling a lot of stiffness and was very afraid to bend her knees, anxious about the stitches opening up or over-exercising which may lead to inflammation.
Rehabilitation appointments at SGH were few and far in-between, so my parents sought out Joan from Steps and Providence. Joan had previously gotten me up and running from an Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction performed by Dr Leslie Leong at Mt Elizabeth, who had recommended her to us.
Initially skeptical of rehabilitative therapy and the use of machines, my techno-phobic grandmother reluctantly got set up and helped onto the machine. It was like walking on air, her words, not mine. My grandmother described it as feeling young again, no longer bound by the weight of her body and able to walk again. She even told our whole family – myself, my parents to try it. It felt like I was walking on the moon. Even if it didn’t help her leg immediately, the exuberance at being able to walk faster than she has in a decade was so exhilarating. The previously troubled thought that she might not walk again really put her in a depressive mood, which was an issue as SGH had prescribed her antidepressants.
With the Alter G and Joan’s encouragement and supervision, she could move again.
Three months of rehabilitation and my grandmother was back to her old self but better. My grandmother could sit, with her legs bent at 90 degrees – no longer afraid of people tripping over her leg in the bus or telling her to keep her legs in, while she, in utter embarrassment, had to say she physically could not do it. The little things that this machine managed to achieve for her may seem small and insignificant to us but to her – it was a godsend. The initial months were the months that rehabilitation hurt the most but the Alter G managed to provide her with a pain-free – according to her, way of getting the daily recommended amount of exercise without the post-surgical pain.
As of now, two years post-op, my grandmother is in Europe as I am drafting this testimonial. She’s in England – her second leg of the trip after spending a week and a half in Germany. She is happily proclaiming that she can walk everywhere thanks to Joan and Alter G. She hopes that by sharing her testimonial with others, more can benefit from such innovation. From her standpoint, at that point in time, any progress was good. At 76, it was a very real fear that post-op, if rehabilitation was bungled, she would remain wheelchair-bound. Doctors, all of them accomplished and amazing, still are unable to fully understand the anxiety and pain such surgeries cause. Now, my grandmother brings her walking stick around more as a reminder to people to just be a bit more patient with her, but her biggest problem is also that. She never remembers to take it along when she leaves from one place to the other.
Granddaughter to Mdm Irene Ong,
Note: Testimonials from patients are not or only slightly edited for originality purposes.