WASHINGTON, Missouri - Connie Pado has been coaching Special Olympics for more than 20 years but got sidelined because of a bum knee. She postponed knee surgery for as long as she could, but knowing what she knows now, she would have had a knee replacement long ago. To see if surgery is the best option, download Mercy’s guide to a knee replacement.
“Getting one of my knees replaced has changed my life,” said Pado, who lives in Union, Missouri. “I was barely able to walk, and I was in a lot of pain. I didn’t even want to go to the grocery store. I just wanted to stay home and move from my bed to the couch.”
A year after surgery, she is no longer lagging behind all of her Olympians as they walk from field to field. She’s leading the way. Even two weeks after surgery, she said, she was in better shape than before.
“I thought I would have to be in a wheelchair for a couple of weeks,” she said. “But they had me up walking and moving as soon as the anesthesia wore off.”
Pado, who coaches bocce ball, volleyball, golf, swimming, bowling and more, loves to coach and loves her team. The feeling is mutual. “If it weren’t for Connie, none of us would be here,” said Debbie Koch, who works with the team.
For people like Pado who are experiencing trouble with mobility, pain while walking or climbing stairs, or even getting restful sleep, knee replacement surgery might be a treatment option.
The knee is a large, complex joint comprised of three bones. For people with healthy knees, a layer of slippery tissue called cartilage covers the ends of the bones, so they painlessly glide against each other. For bad knees, replacement surgery “resurfaces” one or more of the bones that make up the knee joint. Damaged cartilage is removed, and the bones are capped with metal or plastic parts. For total knee replacement, all three bones in the knee joint are resurfaced.
“I was really afraid to have surgery, but I knew I couldn’t live without it. Looking back, it’s the best thing I could have done,” said Pado.