I gave up the dream of a miracle cure, and on Dec. 3, orthopedic surgeon Joseph Burkhardt performed the surgery at Bronson Battle Creek.

John Grap, Patient

Justin Niemi, director of physical therapy at Bronson Battle Creek, helps me with an exercise two and a half weeks after surgery.

As a kid I had dreams of playing for the Green Bay Packers. Those nice dreams never materialized.

Instead, over the years I played lots of baseball, softball, basketball, football, and in the late 1970’s I became a runner. Save for a few falls, sprains, bruises and cuts, I never had any serious injuries.

Five years ago a doctor told me, because of osteoarthritis, I would need a knee replacement in each leg. I was shocked and in denial. I started swimming at the YMCA.

Late last year, I gave up the dream of a miracle cure, and on Dec. 3, orthopedic surgeon Joseph Burkhardt performed the surgery at Bronson Battle Creek.

The first days afterward were dreadful.

Physical therapy started on the day after surgery, long before I was ready for it. Standing up, even with braces on my legs and supported by two therapists was excruciatingly painful — even dulled by morphine.

PT at home wasn’t any easier, with my mother-in-law serving as drill sergeant. A physical therapist showed me how to walk again and how to climb stairs — very carefully.

Back at Bronson Battle Creek I began therapy three times a week and found that I could not escape their bending and stretching my legs. I learned to embrace it. With the help and prayers of family and friends, I’ve made slow, painful progress. Now, I’m back working.

While I’m not 100 percent, I can say it’s been worth it.

I want to thank my loving family; Dr. Burkhardt and his staff; Bronson Battle Creek’s doctors, nurses, and aids; LifeSpan’s visiting miracle workers; BBC’s Justin Niemi and his band of prankster therapists; the YMCA and Troy Huggett for getting me in shape before surgery; and United HealthCare for sparing us the adventure’s full costs.

Photo:  Justin Niemi, director of physical therapy at Bronson Battle Creek, helps me with an exercise two and a half weeks after surgery.

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