There is no denying that Erwin Freemire is passionate about being active and enjoying the outdoors. From Heron Lake, Erwin is a retired farmer from previously raising beef, pork and grain. Erwin looks forward to each day and living an active life. Whether swimming in the pool, biking or walking Erwin is an advocate for exercising outdoors.

Over the last decade, however, health concerns have made his outdoor exercise activities more challenging. In 2007, Erwin survived a heart attack and underwent a double stint replacement, finding two blood vessels that were 90-95% plugged. With a routine of walking over 7-miles per day previous to his heart attack, Dr. Tom Stys, MD from Sanford Cardiovascular Institute in Sioux Falls advice was to, “Just keep doing what you are doing.” “So I did,” stated Erwin, “I just kept walking.”

<strong>Results Are In</strong>

During his next yearly checkup with Dr. Stys, results revealed problems on the rise again. “I was told in essence, you are going to have to get busy or start digging,” stated Erwin. “One stint was clean and the other had junk starting to build.” Erwin knew what he had to do. Becoming more proactive, he increased his 7-mile a day walk to 12 miles a day and started going to the pool. Finding himself at the pool for 2-hours a day minimum, he discovered he could tread water for hours. “With a torn right rotator cuff I was not able to swim laps, but I could tread water for an hour without taking a break.”

<strong>The Good and the Bad</strong>

As another year passed, Erwin’s next yearly follow up appointment presented him with great news. “Both stints were nice and clean,” stated Dr. Stys. His daily exercise workout of walking 12-miles and swimming kept him healthy and fit.  But a new problem was on the rise, Erwin had started experiencing some knee pain. As time passed, approximately 3-4 years later, Erwin found himself with excruciating pain causing him to discontinue his walking routine.

“I could tell at times something was really wrong in that knee. I could feel the bone slide around on the knee, it was a painful grinding bone-on-bone feeling, not pleasant.” Along with knee pain, Erwin also was dealing with arthritis in both feet. Erwin opted to have foot surgery in hopes surgery would help subside some of his pain. With no relief much to his dismay, Erwin continued to struggle with knee pain. “I was at the point I knew I had to quit walking, but not exercising. I had been able to be off my heart medication for two years (because of my exercise routine), so I knew I couldn’t stop exercising,” stated Erwin.

Still needing to make sure to continue to exercise Erwin looked for other ways for physical activity.  “I got a bike and continued to go to the pool.”

Still dreaming about the good old days of his time spent walking. “I had heard late last summer the Windom Hospital was going to start offering total joint replacements. I thought well let’s see what the winter brings me.” Being a snowbird, Erwin headed down to Texas hoping to find a little relief before his decision. “I stayed active when I am down in Texas with biking and swimming, but the knee pain was worse, much worse. When I got home, I waited about a week and then called Dr. Taber.”(Dr. Jeffery Taber, MD of Windom Family Medical Center) “I knew he would send me down the right road and get me where I needed to be.”

<strong>WAH’s First Total Knee Replacement</strong>

Erwin was selected to become Windom Area Hospitals’ first total knee replacement recipient. On June 6, 2017,  Erwin’s right knee was replaced at the Windom Area Hospital by Dr. Jesse Botker, MD from The Orthopaedic &amp; Fracture Clinic. Prior to surgery, Erwin participated in the Windom Area Hospital’s Total Joint Replacement Camp.

“Our Total Joint Replacement Camp is strongly encouraged for all individuals seeking joint replacements at WAH, states Kari Witt, RN/CNO. “Having each candidate go through our program helps prepare and educate them on what will happen before and after their surgery. The program also teaches exercises to strengthen muscles before surgery which helps our patients recover quicker. It also educates patients on home preparation for when they return home.”

The day after surgery Erwin found himself up and moving with the care of staff. “The nurses wouldn’t let me do anything,” laughs Erwin, “very caring.” Along with a watchful eye from our nursing staff, Erwin was visited 2-3 times a day by Windom Area Hospital Rehabilitation Department. After a four-day hospital stay, Erwin was discharged on June 9, 2017 and due back to the Windom Area Hospital on June 12 for his personalized rehabilitation program.

“Erv was extremely self-motivated and fun to work with,” States Erwin’s rehabilitation therapist, Mitchel Boeck, DPT. “He pushed hard through his rehab and progressed very well. He had clear-cut goals and was determined to achieve them.” Erwin completed this Rehab on July 26, 2017.

<strong>How Things are Today</strong>

“At this time, I am not trying to rush anything.” Erwin states. “I did a lot of swimming in the month of July, a lot of time spent at the pool. In August I started biking again. I do have to stretch my knee before activity to make sure I don’t hurt it, but I am up to 9 miles a day biking. I am working my way up to 15-20 miles at least, that is my goal. Life improved, and we are pushing in the right direction, right where I want to be. ”

<strong>Convenience Made for Easy Healing</strong>

Receiving care close to home helps minimize the stress and worry factor patients and family members have before sending their loved ones into surgery. “I had less stress knowing I can go where I am used to going. It was so nice that my wife and kids came to see me and didn’t have to take 3-4 hours of driving to do so. Staff at the Windom Area Hospital were unbelievable! From my experience with staying in hospitals, I wouldn’t go elsewhere. I have never had one that gave me the care I had here! Unbelievable, all the nurses, they were just angels watching over me. One was just as good as the other!,” Erwin chuckled, “There just wasn’t anymore they could do. The care was great and I was close to home.”

Erwin is a Windom Area Hospitals first total joint, total success story of the quarter! He has been off all medications June 2017 and continues to work hard at this health goals.

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