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Susan Vidal

Bedford Hills, NY
  • Susan Vidal in the photo 1

As an avid hiker with the goal of hiking all the High Peaks in the Northeast, I was faced with a daunting decision in the Fall of 2022. The deterioration of my right knee due to years of strenuous activities had reached a critical point. I was bone-on-bone in my right knee and in a lot of pain. The prospect of undergoing a total knee replacement filled me with trepidation, as I feared I would never be able to hike the High Peaks again.

Despite my concerns, I pressed on to complete my hiking goals and finished summiting all the High Peaks in New York State and several in New Hampshire. With every hike however, I was plagued by the fear that I would not be able to make it back to the trailhead without help.

The condition of my knee was gradually deteriorating and despite cortisone shots and two rounds of gel injections that gave short term relief, my knee was getting worse. After a particularly arduous hike in the White mountains, I watched a short video of myself walking and was shocked by seeing how badly I was limping. I realized that continuing on this path could cause additional damage to my hip, back or my other knee.

I sought the expertise of Dr. John MacGillivray and after discussing the options we agreed that a total knee replacement was inevitable. With the assistance of Dr. MacGillivray's efficient and helpful staff, Veronica and Pam, the paperwork and scheduling process was made effortless.

Surgery day came and I was discharged on the same day. I began physical therapy at home the following day. Within two days I no longer needed a walker or cane. Lots of walking around the house, bending exercises and ice, ice and more ice. Within 10 days of the operation I was walking 2-3 miles outdoors on flat terrain. At two weeks, I started physical therapy at HSS Westchester. My physical therapist was Alison Brown. During our first session, Allison asked me what my goals were from therapy. I expressed my desire to hike a mountain on my next birthday, even if it was a small mountain. I had four weeks to prepare and a physical therapist to help me reach my goal.

I worked hard and followed the exercise routine that Alison designed. She knew my goals and every session we worked on exercises to increase my range of motion. At the same time I was increasing my walking distances and started walking at nature preserves. By my birthday, which was six weeks after the operation, I felt I was mountain ready. That day I hiked six miles with an elevation gain of 1200 feet accompanied by my three children. Goal complete! By two month I had resumed hiking every other day slow and steady. By three months, I was back in the High Peaks snowshoeing my way to the summits of Cascade and Porter in the Adirondacks with my hiking buddies.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Dr MacGillivray, Veronica, Pam and Alison Brown who were instrumental in making my surgery and recovery journey as seamless as possible. I worked tirelessly to regain my strength and flexibility, and I can confidently say that undergoing a total knee replacement was the best decision I have ever made. My new knee and I are a perfect match.

As a 61 year old who is fit and active, I enjoy hiking, biking, tennis and rock climbing. I am looking forward to continuing all my activities for many years to come.