Dr. Dennis Burke: How My Longtime Surgeon Is Making Me a Bionic Man.
A year ago, on June 7, my longtime surgeon, Dr. Dennis Burke, (then of Mass General and now of Beth Israel in Milton, Mass.), gave me a new left hip, shown above. It is the X-ray from my June 15 one-year follow-up appointment with Dr. Burke.
Beautiful, don't you think?
No? What's wrong with you?
Dr. Burke took one look at the X-ray and pronounced my new hip "beautiful." Of course, I think my new metal hip is not only a thing of beauty but a literal lifesaver. A year ago, I had gone to to Dr. Burke in excruciating pain in my left hip and was having trouble walking much less playing tennis.
I hadn't played tennis for months and missed it terribly. I couldn't be me: playing tennis, building stone walls and walking for miles around neighborhoods, snooping, checking out houses and landscaping, and striking up chats with perfect strangers.
Now, thanks to Dr. Burke and my new left hip, I am back doing it all. I'm playing tennis three or four times a week at the Holden Tennis Club. What I find even more remarkable is that I am running flat out after tennis balls, hiking for miles, hauling heavy rocks for stone walls, all on both knees replaced by Dr. Burke 14 years ago and my new left hip!
At this latest appointment, Dr. Burke looked at the X-ray of my knees and pronounced them "perfect, just as good as when I put them in." I was not a bit surprised. They have been so good for so long -- 14 years! -- that I hardly give them a second thought. They're just my knees. Hey, everybody else has knees, right?
Well, thanks to Dr. Burke, so do I. They just happen to be metal.
I joke with Dr. Burke and my friends that my goal is to be "a bionic man looking down on stupid bone-dependent humans." And, wouldn't you know, my joke is becoming less and less far-fetched. Pointing to my right hip on the X-rays, Dr. Burke said, "There's early stage arthritis there, though we don't have to do anything right now."
"In other words," I said, "the right hip will eventually have to be replaced. I really am on my way to being a Bionic Man."
Dr. Burke didn't agree or deny. He just smiled. A surgeon renowned for his outstanding outcomes, he has a demeanor that is easygoing, friendly, and confident but with an utter lack of self-importance. "You're good for now," he said casually even though speaking of my very way of life. "See you in two or three years. However, if you need to see me sooner, just let me know."
Over the past 14 years that I have been seeing him, Dr. Burke and I have gotten to know each other. We're serious when we have to be, such as before and after I go under the knife. In between joint replacements, we joke, laugh, and have a good time.
We are doctor and patient, but also buddies. Above on the computer screen behind us are the X-rays of my two knee replacements and my new left hip replacement. At my request, Dr. Burke put both shots together on the computer screen so they could be in this photo.
Dr. Burke is happy to let me take such a photo even though he is well aware that it will likely be published in this blog, which he says he reads. However, he did say that he does not read all of every blog. Like most of my readers, he finds the stories too long.
Some people talk too much. I write too much. Oh well.
The photo of Dr. Burke and me together was taken by my wife Barbara who, with Dr. Burke's routine approval, was with me during the appointment -- one more example of how caring and how different Dr. Burke is. With Dr. Burke, it's not about him; it's about you and me, the patient.
Finally, below is a photo taken by Dr. Burke in the recovery room immediately after my hip replacement surgery a year ago. I'm giving thumbs up. The surgical staff are all smiles and having a ball. Immediately after major surgery? Yup.
And the surgeon himself taking the photo immediately after performing surgery? Unheard of. But that's my buddy Dr. Burke, a topflight surgeon, a people person, and surely one of a kind.
Well, it's getting late and I have to get to bed. Thanks to Dr. Burke, this three-quarter Bionic Man he has created will be on the tennis court tomorrow morning at 7:30 running full out like a crazy man.
So long and keep moving.
P.S. For more about my hip replacement, click this link.
P.P.S. For info on my ebooks, click here.
3 hip and knee photos
Jun 15 (1 day ago)