NOVEMBER THROUGH JANUARY 2019-2020:
As a professional dancer, I had been aware of osteoarthritis throughout my body for years. In my seventies, after I’d become a devoted Competitive Ballroom dancer, the arthritis progressed to the point where dancing was step-by-step painful; I could walk a maximum of three blocks with a cane. I knew I needed surgical intervention. Dr. Friedrich Boettner was recommended to me through my dancers’ informal network. He saw me within two weeks of my initial call, and after a thorough and clear, sympathetic consultation, scheduled surgery for a total hip replacement within the month.
My time at HSS was beautifully choreographed, from the welcome at the point of intake in an airy space with a stunning view of the East River, to the friendly nurses’ hugs at departure. The operating team was warm and supportive, explaining procedures, efficient and unhurried. Thank you, dear Ashley, Genewoo, Michelle, Amir, Joe, Shakir. The nursing staff provided regular attention, always offering help and information with precision and calm. Thank you, Comfort, Dan, Kyonte, Jessica, Aiyisha, and Khrystina, James, Lana, Michael, Kym, Mia, Tabitha, Edna.
On the first day after the operation, I received physical therapy morning and afternoon, and again on the following morning of my discharge from the hospital. Thank you, Hannah, Danielle and Greg: you had me walking up and down the hallways and special stairs with proficiency if not yet confidence. The food was to my surprise, delicious! Thank you, Norbu Lama!
Major surgery is intimidating and recovery disorienting. I took no pain medication but over the next six weeks needed and received a lot of encouragement and reassurance from Dr. Boettner and his valiant PA Michelle, who invariably and promptly responded to my anxious questions. I came home with a walker and my cane.
Throughout, Dr. Boettner was my guiding star. I followed his post-op instructions to the letter. Week One, my sister was by my side as I learned to go from lying to sitting to standing. She cooked and cared for me while I practiced sit-to-stand, short walks, and the invaluable hospital-prescribed exercises three times a day. Weeks Two and Three, friends took over in scheduled visits to help me dress and walk with me each day as required. Week Four, walking sixteen city blocks a day alone! Week Five, Dr. Boettner added more exercises and stretches. He said, “this operation is a self-healing surgery.” Confidence returning, cane now in my backpack. Last day of week six: first dance lesson! Endless happiness and gratitude.
My total hip replacement operation was November 9, 2019. Three years later almost to the day, November 4, 2022, with my instructor Darius Mosteika, I became the Fred Astaire National Ballroom Dance Champion in the American Smooth Style, Senior Division.
MARCH AND OCTOBER 2022:
I came to Dr. Press following the departure from HSS of my esteemed physiatrist, Dr. Elizabeth Manejias. As a specialist for people with hypermobile dancers’ bodies and injuries, she had seen me beautifully through eight years of knee and hip problems.
In March 2022, I sought out Dr. Press for his expertise in sports medicine. I needed a new assessment of ongoing knee issues due to my long career as a professional dancer, and system-wide arthritis. Importantly, I hoped to find a doctor who would understand and work with an eighty-year-old woman deeply engaged in continuing her dancer’s vocation.
Dr. Press listened intently to what I had to say (long history, many questions!), watched a summary demonstration of my maintenance routines as well as video examples of my daily Competitive Ballroom dancing, and after examination gave me his medical opinion in a clear, kind and succinct manner: “you don’t need an operation.” He also proposed a key adjustment to one of the exercises I had been doing for knee-strengthening. I have incorporated it to great benefit into my daily routine. I left his office informed and reassured.
The prescription from a subsequent visit regarding feet and spine issues was as simple as it was welcome: “just keep doing what you’re doing!”
In Dr. Press, I find a physician who pays attention and responds creatively and with great experience, skill and sympathy to the person/patient before him. He receives me with a blend of pragmatism and respect that sets me at ease. I go to him with confidence and gratitude.
Dr. Press' profile video was an excellent preview to my first visit. He does in the office exactly what he promises on tape.
My dancing has not stopped. On November 4, 2022, with my instructor Darius Mosteika, I became the Fred Astaire National Ballroom Dance Champion in the American Smooth Style, Senior Division.
Photo Credits: RyanKenner Photography; BarrettPhotography; LaHariPhotography.com