Mike’s Aspirus Story: ‘It was all about me – anything and everything I needed was taken care of.’

Mike Karinen has struggled with knee pain for most of his life. But in recent years, the pain turned constant and so severe it limited his movement and health issues snowballed quickly. Mike knew it was time to take action and scheduled an appointment with Aspirus Keweenaw Orthopedic Surgeon Mark Kelley, MD.

After a series of x-rays, Dr. Kelley discovered Mike’s right knee was bone on bone, and his left knee wasn’t far behind. But before he could have a total knee replacement, he needed to lose weight. Mike asked Dr. Kelley what he could do for him in the meantime.

As a temporary fix, Dr. Kelley administered a couple of injections, a shot of Cortisone during his appointment, and the following week, a Synvisc shot. Together, the treatments offered pain relief for 10 months. He was back to enjoying rounds of golf, walking and light exercise.

On track to a healthier life

Shedding more than 100 pounds was a long haul for Mike, but surgery and a healthier life were finally in sight. Dr. Kelley asked when he’d like his knee replaced, as four to six weeks of pre-op preparation had to be factored in. Mike chose October because he “didn’t want to give up a season of golfing.”

Five days before the procedure, Mike had an Iovera injection to help make surgery and recovery more comfortable. One of his biggest concerns, being that he lived alone in the country outside of Houghton, was his after care.

“My living quarters are pretty small so I didn’t have a lot of room to do the exercises I needed to,” he explained. “I told Dr. Kelley I was thinking of getting my surgery and post-op care in Detroit where most of my family is so they could help me.”

Dr. Kelley immediately went to bat for Mike, helping him make the arrangements to transfer from the hospital to an assisted living facility while he healed. Everything went so smoothly, Mike scheduled an appointment for his left knee replacement surgery and had it done December 17, 2018.

They calmed my fears

Looking back at both procedures, Mike said “everyone who works at Aspirus was so nice and wonderful, professional and caring.”

“I was a bundle of nerves, but the pre-op people took away a lot of my angst. They answered my worrisome questions and calmed my fears,” he said. “The staff kept it light, reassured me, asked if I had any other questions, sensed my mood, and even joked with me. Next thing I knew I woke up in recovery.”

What Mike really appreciated about his care experience was receiving a patient care binder with his health information tucked inside.

“It had all kinds of details from all of my visits and explained everything I needed to know. If I had any questions they answered them right away,” he said. “I have never seen anything like this in my life.”

And he won’t forget the nurses who cared for him after surgery.

“They were absolutely wonderful. It was all about me – anything and everything I needed was taken care of,” he said. “I liked that the on-duty nurses put their names on the white board when they came on shift and introduced themselves to me. They constantly changed out my water, asked if I needed coffee or juice. They informed me when the different therapists were due in as well as the doctors who were on the floor. I was very impressed.”

Getting stronger by the day

Mike, who turned 66 on February 22, is feeling great and back to walking “with no pain for the first time in many years.” He even strapped on a pair of snowshoes for a quarter mile hike after the recent blizzard.

“I can’t say enough about Dr. Kelley and what he has done for me,” said Mike. “He knows exactly what he’s doing, and he has a great sense of humor. I couldn’t be happier.”

When Mike talks about Dr. Kelley and his rehab care team at Aspirus Outpatient Therapies, he smiles from ear to ear, mentioning Jeff Baril, Wendy Chynoweth, and Jill Moyryla.

“It is just fascinating knowing all of the things that Aspirus can do for me right here, from the surgery to rehab,” he said. “There are a lot of smiling people at Aspirus. I think I met everyone but the janitor.”


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