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Susan Devine

Monroe, CT
  • Susan Devine in the photo 1
  • Susan Devine in the photo 2
  • Susan Devine in the photo 3

After years of suffering with knee pain, a diagnosis of osteoarthritis of both knees, and receiving Synvisc shots in both knees for six years, the pain in my knees was limiting my daily activities, and I was experiencing pain that appeared to be originating from the knee and now radiating to the hip and groin restricting my movement. Still I put off getting a second opinion from HSS though I had contemplated it for years, and even though HSS was now opening a site in Stamford, CT. At the end of 2016 an injury to my right foot resulted in a ruptured plantar fasciitis and ironically it was that injury that lead me to HSS. After a failure to obtain an appointment for this injury at the practice that had been treating my knees for over six years now, I made an appointment on a referral to a private practice orthopedic doctor and it was his PT that, when she began working with me for the plantar fasciitis, noticed something wrong with my hip and asked me if anyone had ever spoke to me about it. That interaction really gave me pause and made me make the leap to make an appointment at HSS where I began with Dr. Samuel Taylor and have never looked back since and would never go anywhere else for orthopedic care now that I have been treated at HSS.

Dr. Taylor is an important part of my story because of his true consideration and ability to really listen to his patients that lead to my diagnosis and the correct path of treatment. I was his last appointment of the day and they were running behind, which I have since learned is not typical of HSS. The wait was not long, but it gave me a chance as a new patient to see how HSS ran. The facility was spotless, and each worker really took their time with their patients. I received x-rays on this first visit and was seeking advice on my knees, but based on my work with the PT over the summer on my foot circled my right hip on the forms as well. Dr. Taylor listened carefully and then examined my range of motion, something that hadn't been done to that level in years in my other orthopedic appointments despite receiving yearly shots. My knees did in fact have issues, but it was my hip that he flagged when he kept telling me to relax and then finally said, "You are relaxed - that hip isn’t moving anymore is it?" From there, he asked me if I had the time would I be willing to do more x-rays for the hip. Imagine that asking me if I had the time!

They were making time for me as it was clearly the end of the day, people were wrapping things up, I had been the last x-ray of the day for my knees as it was, and the imaging technician had to come back and set things up to do this x-ray now and did so with pleasure. I apologized for keeping everyone and they insisted no apologies was necessary that that is what they were there for. I am not a doctor person, I am the more typical person that would avoid going at all costs, and yet I felt myself relaxing and happy to have such attentive health care professionals taking care of me. After the x-ray Dr. Taylor saw what was suspect for synovial chondromatosis, or loose bodies in my right hip joint. And it is the interaction when viewing that x-ray that made all the difference in how I proceeded. He reviewed the x-ray with my husband and I and I could tell it wasn't the norm, but didn't know anything about this condition yet. He said he would like me to see a hip specialist and asked me if I would do that. I replied sure and he said that he would have his office set it up on my exiting and we started down the very long hall to his office suite when about halfway down the hall he said, "It means a trip into the city." I turned and made a face and he said, "Oh come on do it for me." It was just his kind, but determined tone, not know-it-all, but just a sense that he knew this was something for HSS and the doctor he had in mind for referral, that sat with me and told me I had better listen. Dr. Taylor referred me to Dr. Danyal H. Nawabi at the HSS Hip Preservation Center at the Hospital's main campus in Manhattan and if it weren't for the extra time Dr. Taylor took that night and going the extra mile I really can't guess where I might be in my health today. Dr. Taylor is an important part of my story and I am thankful that he recognized my symptoms and that the x-rays showed something more serious than I had initially come in for and picking the best doctor for me to continue with.

Dr. Nawabi began treating me shortly after that visit in October at the HSS Stamford Outpatient Center and my surgery took place on May 25, 2017 at the Hospital's main campus in Manhattan. Dr. Nawabi was also extremely thorough, knowledgeable, and compassionate as he walked me through each step of my diagnosis and possible treatments. After reviewing my case, my history, and the x-rays, he did an exam and ordered an MRI which I was able to do in Stamford. Then at my follow-up we discussed my options and surgery wasn't the first option. Instead we tried an injection with Dr. Theodore Miller to rule out any other possibility that the right bursa, which was inflamed, was causing the pain. This was a conservative choice which I was thankful for because it allowed me to understand my diagnosis and be cautious about the path we chose to treat my condition. It also made me an active part of the decision making. Dr. Miller was again extremely professional in his treatment and I was impressed at the level of professional interaction between himself and the technician assisting him that day as there was again a genuine respect for what was being done and a dialogue of teaching. There is just such a level of professional courtesy and communication and teaching with every step of your care that is simply quite astounding. Again, I was in good hands as Dr. Miller reviewed my x-rays and MRI and took note of the synovial chondromatosis and we talked about what my understanding was for the reason for the injection. This again allowed me to understand why everything was being done and educated me on my options, possible outcomes, and possible next steps. The shot numbed the area for a short period, but the pain returned, and the range of motion was becoming more limiting.

Dr. Nawabi explained the surgery that could be done to treat my condition, answered all my questions, and let me take time to decide what I wanted to do. It took a minute, two weeks to be exact as no one really wants surgery, but it became obvious that surgery was the only way to use HSS' tag line, that I was "getting Back in the Game." Dr. Nawabi taught me enough about my condition and gave me the time I needed to get in the right frame of mind for surgery. I can't thank Dr. Nawabi, HSS, and their entire team enough for the care I received pre-op, operatively, and post-op. It was like nothing I have ever experienced in healthcare. All my needs were met, nothing was left to chance, and my husband and I were never made to worry about anything in the process from start to finish. I am extremely thankful to have had Dr. Nawabi as my surgeon as his skill set is unquestionably excellent. In another doctor visit shortly after surgery and unrelated to my surgery, the attending doctor asked if I would like her to check my surgical site just to make sure it was okay since I was there so soon after surgery, and when she did she looked up amazed and asked who had done my surgery and when I answered Dr. Nawabi at HSS she responded, “Well you were very lucky. He did an amazing job from the looks of your surgical site!” I don't feel lucky, I feel grateful, as I don't think there is any luck involved as it is my experience that HSS is thorough and does their job right and with excellence, nothing is left to chance or luck. Dr. Nawabi, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. Miller were all extremely talented and professional and everyone involved in my case worked as a team.

Once discharged I did my rehab in Stamford at HSS Sports Rehab at Chelsea Piers CT with Tracey Llewellyn and I can't say enough about what an important part of my recovery she was as well. It seemed that with each person I worked with at HSS they were all in, all genuinely concerned about my outcome and well-being, for real. I was, and still am amazed. Tracey worked with me from May until November. She was like a coach, a mom and cheerleader. When she needed to be firm she was and when she needed to be soft and compassionate, she was, and it kept me on track and focused in my rehab. When I returned to my job as a teacher I returned to PT one day limping and she made the move to talk to me before we began our appointment that day. A move that made a huge difference in my outcome. She talked to me like a coach and asked me what was I doing, was I going to throw away all my hard work for what? Every day from that point on whenever the hip started to hurt at work I heard her pep talk in my head and I took a break and slowed it down and I continued to do my PT exercises to build my strength. I really had worked hard and so did everyone who treated me, and I just couldn’t let them down after all they had done for me. You become a part of the HSS team. It can't be understated that when I say the entire team at HSS was attentive I mean everyone, orderlies, staff that saw me in and out of the hospital, office staff, parking attendants, and the nurses were amazing. Everyone was amazing to my husband and I every step of the way. When I made the decision to go through with surgery I was at a point in life where I had just learned to live with the pain. I had gone from walking, hiking, cycling, skiing and working out to not being able to get my shoes and clothes on by myself or walk a block. I was clearly leaving the game. I was amazed at my recovery and how I felt each day, week, and month post-operatively. Dr. Nawabi and his team gave me my life back and I am able to do all the things I love again. My maiden bike ride post-operatively found me staying in the saddle going up hills for the first time in over 30 years of cycling and when I reported this to my trainer she said that is because your hip joint is stronger and healthier. When I went cross country skiing the first time this winter I skied as I never had before. Prior to surgery I just thought I wasn’t that great of a skier as I would slip out of the tracks repeatedly, now I know it was my hip. While hiking, I would lose my balance and it kept me from going places I wanted to go. Now, I am in control when I hike. Thank you doesn’t seem quite sufficient to cover all that Dr. Nawabi and his team have done for me. I am so very grateful to be better than back in the game!