Make the Decision

Our common humanity is often best expressed through the struggle to maintain or regain our health. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Rock and Patricia, as well as an audio recording of our full conversation. Click here to submit your own healing story.

 

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Dr. Tuckson: 

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Dr. Tuckson: 

I’m talking to my friends Rock and Patricia from New Orleans. We were just talking about the idea of the Doctor in the Mirror as a way of giving power to you as an individual.

The idea behind the Doctor in the Mirror is interesting. You see your regular doctor twice a year, if you’re lucky, but you see yourself every single morning. It’s up to you to make that decision. Gee, is my lip drooping? Could that be a stroke coming on? Are my eyes yellow? Could I be jaundiced? Are my cheeks getting puffy? Am I putting on weight? Make the decision to change your life.

That makes me feel so great. I know, Rock, that you’ve always inspired me because I know you had some physical challenges, but despite them, you got great medical care and you are every day working out and being active. Your problem is with your knees, right?

Absolutely. I had problems with my knees for years. I went through every process available: arthroscopic surgery, injections, all the different medications. I kept hearing, “Wait till you’re 70. Wait till you’re 70. You’ll need a knee replacement.” Finally the pain just got so bad. Again, I looked in the mirror and my wife, Pat, said, “You got to get it done.” I did a lot of research, talked to a number of different physicians. Finally I found a guy that I could really do well with, Dr. Eric Boyden at Reno Orthopedic Center. He took some X-rays. “I’m amazed that you’re still walking,” he said, “You are so bone on bone. You have absolutely nothing left in your knees.”

Tell me, Rock, a little more about your research and finding a doctor. First of all, a lot of people are shy about investigating, finding the best doctor. You weren’t intimidated by the process?

I’m a pharmacist, so I know how to talk to doctors. I know what questions to ask. I also asked people who had had knee surgery. When I first started to research it, maybe 15 years ago, I talked to 12 people. Six would say, “Best thing that ever happened.” Six would say, “I wish I had my old knees back.” A few years later, it became 8 and 4, then 10 and 2, then all 12 said, “Get it done.”

Patricia, were you involved in the decision process?

Absolutely. I’ve been pushing him for years to get it done because our activities became less and less. We enjoy skiing. He could not do that as well. We’d come home and he’d be crippled.

You’ve been active a lot. What else do you do?

I’ve had diabetes for 37 years. I’ve been insulin-dependent. I knew right off the bat that either I accepted the diagnosis, went with it, lived a healthy life, or ignore it. I decided to go ahead and push myself and learn all I could about diabetes. I’m a pharmacist also. I realized that I needed to work at it constantly. By monitoring my blood sugar regularly, with exercise I could not only help joints move, but I could bring my blood sugar down to a more normal level.

That’s some great advice. Rock, you’re exercising, what are you doing now?

I started with the physical therapy for my knees. After a month or so, I stepped out of the shower and Pat said, “You look like you’re losing some weight.” I stepped on the scale and I was down 10 pounds. I just kept doing the physical therapy and Pat really pushed me. She said, “You get a health club membership with your insurance. Come join. They’ve got a water aerobics class, start with that.” I started with the water aerobics class. A couple more pounds came off. I said, “You know, they’ve got all these nice machines here, let me start.” I asked for some instruction, started doing some upper body exercises. A few more pounds came off. I wound up losing 40 pounds.

The best thing is, he’s kept it off.

I have not gained one ounce back.

Is going to the gym fun for you?

Absolutely. When I don’t go, I feel bad. I work out about an hour-and-a-half three days a week. I do a cardio. I do balance. I do strength, upper body. Flexibility. I do it all.

It’s something you share as a couple?

Absolutely.

Yeah. The days that I don’t go to the club, I walk.

What’s your frame of mind when you walk?

Invigorated. Reno is a beautiful town. With the mountains, the scenery, that in itself invigorates me. I put on my music, my headphones. I sing along. Probably the neighbors don’t appreciate it, because I can’t sing, but …

But you sing along.

But I sing along and I enjoy that.

That’s been a huge help with my recovery from my knee surgery and the fact that I’m exercising, I’m feeling much better. I really appreciate what she’s done for me.

If there’s one last message that you would have for other seniors about taking control over their own health, their own lives, their own well-being, what would that be?

No one’s going to do it for you. You have to do it yourself and you have to commit to it. But you have to make that decision. Then you have to stick with it.

Just get out there and do something. Nobody can do it for you. They can motivate you, but you have to do it. You have to make up your mind: This is the way I want to live the rest of my life. I don’t want to sit here in a chair watching TV. I want to get out. I want to live it.

I tell you, you both are a real inspiration for me. Thank you so much for taking the time.