Olympia Orthopaedic Associates All-Star Program
Rosemary Walsh Dr. Zechmann Double Knee Replacement
“You should have seen their faces, it’s like this moment was built for TV but it was real life.” Rosemary remarked after a follow up visit at Olympia Orthopedic Associates. Dr. Jerome Zechmann and his team have been continuously shocked with the progress of their 78 year old patient, Rosemary Walsh who had both her knees replaced about 20 years ago. She will tell you that her favorite part of her journey has been the look on the doctor’s faces when she tells them how well she’s been doing.
Born in Lakewood, Ohio to the parents of Czechoslovakian immigrants who came to the U.S. fleeing the effects of WW2, Walsh had always been around persistence and determination. Growing up surrounded by farms, she was always outside helping her parents with yard work and taking care of her pet rabbits. She always found a connection with being in tune with natural energy and looked to help others by working as a Psychology Nurse for most of her professional life. Running around with work and her love for dancing was what eventually took a toll on her knees as she found pain sneaking around the corner in her 50’s. “I was born a bit bowlegged, I would definitely attribute that to the going of my knees too.” Her goal post-surgery was to get back to her favorite Rock n’ Roll dancing routines as well as her Polka step.
After she had moved to Washington State in 1994, she luckily came across OOA to hopefully find long term relief. She soon found Dr. Zechmann and his team, who were happy to help and listen. “I always came with questions about my limitations and they always responded positively. They assured me that they can fix my knee and that it was up to me to work hard to rebuild my body after.” As Rosemary was living an active lifestyle before her knee pain, her mindset was to find a solution with the team at OOA. They decided the final step was to proceed with a knee replacement. After her surgery on her left knee, she pushed hard to get back to where she had left off. Dr. Zechmann and his team were ecstatic to hear that a few months after the replacement, that she had ran the bases at a Minnesota Twins Major League baseball game!
Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse. Only a couple years after her left knee was replaced, it became apparent that Rosemary needed to do the same to her right one. Luckily she had become familiar with the process from her first knee and looked once again for her team at OOA. This time they thought that surely Walsh would slow up, patients who have multiple life changing surgeries usually take some time adjusting to their new life. But, like a well-oiled machine, Rosemary came out on top crushing physical therapy and making all the younger trainers stop in their tracks at the sight of her progress. “I really thank my amazing mother and father for imprinting a hard working mentality on me…” Walsh said. “…I also was never a big fan of taking tons of pain pills, I wanted to use my positive attitude as a crutch.”
As you might have guessed, soon after her second knee replacement she had the desire to explore Europe. Her warmth and curiosity lead her to new places, meeting some fantastic people along the way. She was able to tackle long stretches of stairs, keep up with younger tourists, and even back to her passion of dancing! “I went back into Dr. Zechmann’s office and mentioned to him that I was just dancing with the Portuguese Dance Troop in Europe. You should have seen their faces!” It’s not every day that you hear a patient who has had double knee replacements back dancing a few months after surgery with the top dancers in the world. Rosemary’s advice to those who might be awaiting surgery would be; “to really understand or know your body’s limitations. Do not call it pain (post-op.) but to call it discomfort and know that things will get better as you rebuild your body. Just focus on maintaining a positive attitude.”
Walsh is now spending her time following a consistent workout regimen and hopes to add yoga into the mix in the near future. She is looking forward to traveling to Minnesota and Maryland with her husband to visit her children. “I’m not done yet, I usually tell people I am 3, 25’s (talking about her age as a number) and it makes me feel young!”