They led me into pain-free, capable lifestyle once again

Diane Delach, Patient

Dr. James Smith Gave Me My Life Back!

As I type this testimonial, I think of the wonderful orthopedic surgeon who made it possible for me to use both of my hands once again – Dr. James Smith, MD at Bronson Hand & Elbow Surgery Specialists in Kalamazoo, MI.  My health crisis journey began several years ago when I started having bad cramps, then pain in the base of my thumbs on both hands.  It got so uncomfortable that I was referred to Dr. Smith, who diagnosed me with basal joint arthritis and helped me get some relief with a series of cortisone shots in my hands.  This helped keep me going for a few years, but eventually the shots were less effective, and the pain and disability got much worse.  I couldn’t do basic things like: button, zip, pull-up, unfasten, tie my shoes, unlock doors, start my car, open or close jar lids, squeeze stuff, press things, or lift any amount of weight.  The worst was when I was losing sleep because of the pain.

Dr. Smith encouraged me to consider CMC arthroplasty surgery, an operation where he would remove the trapezium bone at the base of my thumb, divide a tendon in my forearm and use half of it to pull up and stabilize my thumb and fill the void where the bone had been removed.  It sounded very scary to me and I procrastinated for a couple of months, but then decided to put my trust in Dr. Smith. I researched the procedure, talked to others who had undergone the surgery, and listened to Dr. Smith’s staff who assured me that: “He is the best!”  I chose to do my left hand first as a trial and had the operation in October 2017. Everyone in Dr. Smith’s office was very supportive, especially his nurse Norma, and the hand therapist technician, Julie.  My recovery went well, and with the help of my husband, family and friends, I was able to get through it successfully and had no more pain!

I followed up surgery with hand therapy with Julie Daniels who guided me through progressive exercises to strengthen my thumb and get my hand back to a normal function and I was delighted because by Christmas, my left hand was amazingly healed.  In fact, I was so impressed that I requested to have a surgery date set up right away in January 2018 for my right hand.  Dr. Smith cautioned me that people didn’t usually do both hands in the same year, and I said… “why wait when I can have it turn out so well?”  Then Dr. Smith cautioned me further that every surgery is unique, and results can vary, but then I said to him, “Well, maybe… but you’re the best… so let’s do it!”

I had CMC arthroplasty surgery on my right hand in January 2018, and incredibly, it went even better than the first surgery. Perhaps it was because I knew what to expect, but I mostly believe it was the skill and talent of Dr. Smith who worked his magic again.  It has been well over a year now since my hand surgeries, and I am extremely happy to say that both of my hands are pain-free and functioning beautifully. I am a grandma, so being able to hold my grand babies and play with my grandchildren is such a gift.  I am forever grateful to Dr. Smith and his team of professionals for giving me my life back.  Their expertise, enthusiasm and compassion helped me through a difficult time and led me into a pain-free, capable lifestyle once again.