Feeling Good, Inside and Out

July 19, 2021

Bill Donelan almost forgot how good his hips could feel. Twenty years of managing chronic pain could do that to anyone. Over the years, the 65-year-old Andover, Massachusetts, resident was slowly losing the enjoyment of his favorite physical activities like golfing and skiing. Even simple tasks, such as walking or picking up items off the ground, eventually became almost too difficult to muster.

"I had been soldiering on, and people would see me limp a little bit,” Bill says. “It came to a point where I was in constant pain with my hips. Aches in the morning, aches in the afternoon, aches when I walked. I just had to get it done, you know?"

Enter Adam Harder, MD, orthopedic surgeon at Lawrence General Hospital’s state-of-the-art Santagati Center for surgery. Dr. Harder, who specializes in hip and knee replacements for Orthopaedics Northeast, met with Bill at his office at Lawrence General’s Community Medical Associates in Andover to discuss options. After careful review of Bill’s hip X-rays, Dr. Harder confirmed that Bill needed not just one hip surgery, but two. Bill was on board with a plan to first replace the left hip in September 2019, followed by the right hip in September 2020.

As with most joint replacement patients at Lawrence General, Bill was enrolled in the popular Joints in Motion class before his first surgery. The class is a plan of care that educates patients on required steps to prepare for surgery, what to expect during the hospital stay, and what to expect for the return home. He also met regularly with  Dr. Harder during this pre-operative phase.

"I felt really comfortable with Dr. Harder,” Bill says. “He knew what he was doing. He has a busy schedule, but always made time to answer the questions I had. I was also very happy with each of the physician assistants before and after surgery."

The first hip replacement was a success, and Bill was pleasantly surprised to be back on his feet within days. In the weeks that followed, Bill worked closely with Katy, a physical therapist at Lawrence General’s outpatient rehabilitation clinic located at Andover/North Andover YMCA. The location was convenient for Bill, as he lives nearby. He spoke highly of the rehab sessions, which were specifically tailored to his pain tolerance and joint flexibility. Bill stuck to his plan and was even back to work a week ahead of his initial post-surgery goal.

“The difference is night and day, really,” Bill says. “I usually walk two or three miles a day at my job, so that is much easier now. It’s embarrassing in some ways to appear frail. I guess you could  say the surgeries had a positive impact on my self-esteem, too.” 

Bill’s second surgery in September 2020 included the added factor of the pandemic. Thankfully, Lawrence General had strong COVID-19 infection control processes in place. Bill was impressed with the hospital’s safety measures to ensure a safe and clean environment for patients and staff. 

“I always had a good feeling about Lawrence General,” he says. “One of my children was born there, and I feel it is a real fine hospital.”

Most importantly, Bill is glad to have two successful hip surgeries quite literally under his belt. Now, he has a good feeling in both hips and  is getting back to doing the physical activities he enjoys with the people he loves.

“My wife and kids are very glad I got the surgeries, too. It was stressful for them to see someone they love in such pain. Now that I’m pretty much recovered from both surgeries, I’m able to be myself again.”