Sonja Hampton, 71, had a total knee replacement at Virginia Mason in 2014. Her best advice to others considering the surgery? "Don't wait as long as I did! You don't have to live in pain."
Like many people, no matter how much pain she had, Sonja dreaded the thought of surgery. She had already had a successful hip replacement on her left side, but she had convinced herself she should continue to cope with the constant ache in her right knee. Finally the knee worsened to the point where the pain was dictating what she could and couldn't do.
"I used to love going to the movies," says Sonja. "But when friends would ask me to go, I'd wonder how far I would need to walk and whether there would be stairs. Even getting dressed to go out was difficult. It often just didn't seem worth it."
With help from her daughter, who is a surgeon in Washington, DC, Sonja researched knee replacement surgery and the surgeons within her health insurance network who perform it. She was pleased to learn she could have the knee procedure done at Virginia Mason.
In the weeks before her operation, Sonja did exercises from the knee replacement book she received from Virginia Mason. The exercises are designed to build up muscles around the knee and help with recovery from the procedure. Knowing she wouldn't be able to drive for at least three weeks, Sonja also stocked up on groceries and other household supplies. It gave her peace of mind, she says, to know she was doing everything she could to be prepared.
“Don't wait as long as I did! You don't have to live in pain.”
Sonja's daughter flew in for the surgery. "She was really impressed with the way Virginia Mason kept the family informed," says Sonja. "There was a reader board that told her where I was at all times so she knew exactly when the surgery was over, when I was in recovery and when I was back in my room." Sonja went through the surgery with no problems. "And when I came home, I only used a cane for a couple of days."
It wasn't long before Sonja was back to her normal activities and then some. Her surgery was in March and just a few months later she flew to Washington to attend a conference with her daughter. She didn't have any problem keeping up with the busy schedule they had during her visit.
Sonja has resumed volunteer work with her church and is part of the "Peer Partners" program at Virginia Mason. "This is a wonderful service for the patients," she says. "Most of the medical people taking care of them haven't had a joint replacement. I'm someone they can talk to who's been through the same kind of surgery. I can demonstrate how I can bend and straighten my knee and tell them that they're going to be able to do that, too."
Sonja said she's particularly happy to enjoy family events again. In addition to her daughter, she has two sons, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. "Having my knee replaced has made all the difference for me. When I meet a knee replacement patient now, I'm able to tell them that it just keeps getting better."
If you would like more information about Virginia Mason’s joint replacement programs, call us at