Rebecca Buckner

After years of unbearable knee pain, a master swimmer with a competitive spirit, Rebecca chose Memorial Hermann | Rockets Orthopedic Hospital or her knee replacement surgery.

From Alaska to Houston's Rockets Orthopedic Hospital

As a Master’s Swimmer for the past 23 years, Rebecca expects top performance from her body. “Swimming is a very important part of my life — I used to compete and I wanted to still be able to do the breaststroke since that’s my preferred stroke,” says Rebecca. When the pain in her right knee became more than she could bear after several years, even with modifications to her activity level, she considered knee replacement surgery with Dr. Ken Mathis, an affiliated orthopedic surgeon with Rockets Orthopedic Hospital.

After scheduling her surgery, Rebecca made the trip to Houston from her home in Alaska. She recalled meeting with the nurse navigator at Rockets Orthopedic Hospital and noted that he “was very personable and made me feel comfortable to know what was going to happen throughout the process.” During her stay at Memorial Hermann, she felt very well cared for by all members of the staff that she encountered.

Working to Get Back to the Pool

“Dr. Mathis explained to me that he wanted me to walk right away after surgery and they want you to get up and walk a certain amount of steps. When I got up and walked, I didn’t have any pain.” In fact, Rebecca ended up doubling her step goal and as proof of her competitive spirit, she wished there was another patient she could have raced around the nurses’ station.

“I’m a pretty good patient so I want to do everything I can to ensure a good outcome and I can get back in the pool,” she says. To support that outcome, Rebecca had physical therapy for approximately twelve weeks after her surgery to assist her recovery. Rebecca actually looked forward to her physical therapy appointments where the staff pushed her to do specific activities such as stationary bikes and lots of squats to add strength and mobility.

Returning to What She Loves

“Dr. Mathis’ skill with the knee replacement surgery allowed me to continue to do what I love and what really defines me in an important way. My favorite swimming event is the individual medley with all four strokes. My goal was to be able to do a 100 or 200 or 400 medley race with a legal breast stroke kick and I’m there as a result of having the surgery to replace my knee.”

Rebecca adds “I’m not the athlete that I used to be 20 years ago or even 10 years ago, but I’m still doing it. I’m still in the water and doing the best that I can with what I have now — I don’t have any pain with my knee with about 90% of flexion. To have the ability to walk without limping, to swim, to garden, to take my dog for a walk — I’m more focused on what I can do these days.”

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