October 25, 2018

Taking steps to be an athlete for life

See how one member is thriving after a life-altering total joint replacement at the Portland, Oregon, Westside Medical Center.

Kevin McManigal’s active lifestyle is measured by many milestones … starting from the time Bill Bowerman, the famed founder of Nike, specially made a pair of shoes for Kevin and his teammates on the South Eugene High School track team. (They won the state championship.)

In the years since, the now 60-year-old Kaiser Permanente nurse has summitted just about every Pacific Northwest peak, cycled and run tens of thousands of miles, and explored wilderness trails on horseback, cross country skis, and foot.

Bump in the road

Then came the proverbial “bump in the road.” He hiked deep into the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, and came out a week later, hobbling in pain.

Over the next several months, he tried ignoring the pain. He ran less and cycled more. He saw an orthopedic surgeon at Kaiser Westside Medical Center, where an X-ray revealed that cartilage — the firm, rubbery material that serves as a “shock absorber” — had deteriorated in his right knee.

“The pain was constant and became more intense over time,” he says. “It felt like my knee would break, and I would collapse.” He thought that he was “too young and active” to be having joint issues, but he has since learned that it can happen to athletes and others at just about any age in their adult lives.

He wore a brace and walked with a cane.

“It was difficult, but you manage and adapt,” says Kevin, who works in the Medical Procedures Unit at Westside. But when it became too much to endure, he consulted with orthopedic specialists and scheduled surgery for last April.

Just do it

“My surgeon (Erik Kroger, MD), thought that I might only need a half-knee replacement, but he wouldn’t be sure until he actually began the operation. I was confident that he would take excellent care of me, so I told him to ‘Just do it.’”

After total joint replacement, Kevin spent one night in the hospital, and continued his recovery at home. He describes the entire experience from pre-op through recovery “as smooth as can be.” He credits the knee surgery, as well as two previous hand surgeries at Kaiser Permanente, with saving his career and ability to thrive: “I would be disabled now, if not for the excellent care I’ve received. I’d be working at a desk, instead of doing what I love – taking care of patients at the bedside,” said the 32-year Kaiser Permanente employee.

Riding high

Five months following surgery, Kevin experienced another milestone. He participated in Cycle Oregon, an ambitious bike ride that climbs 28,000 feet in elevation through northeastern Oregon. On the last day of the weeklong event, Kevin happened to chat with Eric Bosworth, MD, who cycled the course and months earlier, consulted on Kevin’s case.

Kevin’s conversation with the Kaiser Permanente orthopedic surgeon went like this:

Dr. Bosworth: “I saw you limping on the job all last year … and you’re here at Cycle Oregon?”

Kevin: “Yes, I completed all 400 miles!”

Dr. Bosworth: “You did the whole tour after having had knee replacement surgery in April?”

Kevin: “Yes, that’s right.”

Dr. Bosworth: “That’s great – but did you check with your ortho surgeon before you did this?”

Kevin: “No, because my knee was/is feeling great — and I needed the bicycle ride!”

Dr. Bosworth: “I can understand that. I’m an athlete, too.”

The next milestone for Kevin? He’s planning a multi-day canoeing and hiking trip in Canada and a dozen other adventures, thanks to his new knee and lifelong passion for staying active.