Susan Selleck with her husband and two young grandchildren sitting in a restaurant

VIDEO: Two new knees help woman get back on her feet

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Susan Selleck loves being a grandmother, and at age 56, she was determined to be an active one. Her knees weren’t cooperating with her plan.

“We travel a lot to see the grandkids, and I’m usually the one sitting down in the chair, not able to do anything,” Susan says.

In fact, severe arthritis in both of her knees affected just about everything she tried to do.

“I couldn’t even go to the grocery store because I couldn’t walk,” Susan recalls. “I would be in so much pain, it would just be awful.”

What made her pain even more frustrating is that Susan had always lived an active lifestyle. As a girl, her favorite hobby was speed skating. The Arlington woman believes that’s when her knee problems began.

“It was just so much wear and tear. Whenever I broke my falls, it was always on my knees,” Susan says. “I actually had bruises on my knees for a couple of years.”

High-tech help

Armed with a diagnosis of arthritis in both knees, Susan knew surgery was in her future. She turned to Diane Litke, MD, orthopedic surgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Richardson Medical Center.

Dr. Litke explained she planned to do a total knee replacement on Susan using a Mako robotic arm.

“The robot guides my movements as a surgeon,” Dr. Litke says. “I can change it 1 degree here or 1 degree there so I know the new knee is a perfect fit every time.”

Dr. Litke likens the robot to a video game. On a screen in the operating room, she can tell exactly where to cut out the old knee and replace it with a new, precisely balanced titanium one.

Double decision

Having one total knee replacement may sound like a daunting surgery, but Susan had a request for Dr. Litke. She asked if the surgeon would do both of her knees at the same time so she would have a single recovery and miss less time at work.

“I mean, I knew I had two bad knees so I thought why not just do them both at the same time—if she’s willing to do it,” Susan says. “Then I’d have one recovery.”

Dr. Litke agreed, and just a few months after surgery, Susan is walking around her Arlington neighborhood, even pedaling on her exercise bike.

 “I feel like I can do anything, and I can’t wait to see my grandkids,” Susan says. “This surgery gave me two new knees and a whole new life.”

It’s a story her surgeon has heard before, and one that never gets old.

“This can be a game-changer in life. People tell me that all of the time,” Dr. Litke says. “Now, they can walk around without pain, go on vacation, and play with the grandkids.”

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