NEWPORT, VT - Performing surgeries, including hip surgeries, are nothing new for Dr. Durward Starr of North Troy. Before retiring he performed more surgeries than he can remember, but as a retired veterinarian, all of those surgeries were performed on animals.
Now at 74 years old, Dr. Starr, whose knee joints are beginning to pain him, making it a bit more difficult to get about, can now empathize with some of the animals he operated on to improve their quality of life. Dr. Starr was one of the 24 people who attended a joint replacement school at North Country Hospital in Newport on June 26 to learn more about hip and knee replacement surgery. It was the best attended joint replacement school since North Country Orthopedics began hosting them in 2008.
“We are thrilled and excited at the amazing turn out,” Mary Jane Manfredi. “ Dr. Glen Neale and Dr. Thomas Varney, both orthopedic surgeons, have the expertise and knowledge to perform their craft and provide services anywhere. We are so fortunate that they chose our hospital. The goal of joint school is to be able to provide education and information to patients and their families to help them make an informed decision.” Mary Jane is the practice manager at North Country Orthopedics.
Drs. Neale and Varney were both at the joint school to talk and answer questions about joint replacement surgery. They were joined by a number of other medical professionals who care for the patient before, during, and after the surgery. Although the team talked about the wonders of a successful surgery, they were also bluntly honest about some of the risks, and often the pain, associated with the recovery period. Dr. Neale also brings his own personal experience to the joint replacement school. He has had double hip replacement surgery.
“I was quite impressed with the class,” Dr. Starr said. “They did a good job explaining the surgery.”
Having done countless surgeries on animals, including hip surgeries, he said he walked into the class with a general understanding of the procedure, but the class gave him a far better understanding of it.
Looking back on his life, Dr. Starr attributes his knee pain, which began to ache off and on about a decade ago, to his decades of working as a farmer and a veterinarian who often worked with large farm animals. Then he figures his lifelong love of playing baseball took a toll on his joints. An avid Red Sox fan, he has attended the eight-day Red Sox Fantasy Camp in Florida each year for the past 22 years. At one time Dr. Starr dreamed of playing professional baseball. Although that dream never came true, Fantasy Camp allows him to play ball with some of the biggest legends to play with the Red Sox. However, he said his knee pain makes that a bit more challenging each year.
“I would like to get by with my own body parts,” he said. However, with each passing year he said that is becoming more doubtful as his knees begin to ache more. “I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have had knees and hips replaced and you hear all kinds of stories.” He has yet to decide whether he is ready to undergo the procedure.
Dr. Starr is far from alone when it comes to having joint pain. With so many people of the baby boom generation turning 65, Dr. Neale said many people are feeling those same aches and pains, symptoms that indicate joint replacement surgery might be in their future.
“Every 10 seconds a baby boomer turns 65,” Dr. Neale said. “The expectation is in the next five years we’ll be doing a million joint replacements a year in this country.”
The next joint replacement school at North Country Hospital is on August 14 from 3 to 5 pm. It is a great time to learn about knee and hip surgery. People interested in attending should contact North Country Orthopedics at 802-334-4175.