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Dr. Mike Cobb with Kathy Pannell, who is ready to go home after her outpatient,
knee-replacement procedure.

Patient says 'Thank you, Dr. Cobb'

My name is Kathy Pannell, and I am a patient of Dr. Michael Cobb. On August 20, 2014, I was the first person to undergo Oxford partial knee replacement surgery on an outpatient basis. The surgery was performed at the Physicians Surgery Center in Jackson.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, it is all too easy to complain. We complain about everything. I know that doctors must have a difficult time with this, as no one sees a doctor when they are well and happy. I wanted to take a few moments to tell you about my experience.

First of all, I am certainly not an ideal candidate for this surgery. I am 61 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighed 247 pounds at the time of the surgery. I had been dragging my leg along behind me for about a year and a half before going to see Dr. Cobb. Two years earlier I’d lost 72 pounds with Weight Watchers, but as luck would have it, I began to have trouble with the knee.

Because the deductible on our company insurance was so high, I refused to go to the doctor. I hit the Internet and self-diagnosed. I was certain I had a torn meniscus, or a problem with my ACL, or maybe it was just old people’s arthritis kicking in.
I was the poster child for what not to do. The more I tried to exercise, the worse the pain got … the more depressed I became, the more I ate. As for the knee, I tried everything: exercising, icing, propping the thing over my head.

Regardless of my weight, I have always been extremely active. I am the manager for a small automobile dealership here in Jackson.
In addition to my job, my husband and I own a small farm. The work is never done. It was definitely time to see the doctor.

A visit with Dr. Cobb

Dr. Cobb had done my husband’s knee replacement 10 years earlier with good results, and I had been to see him several years ago with plantar fasciitis. After X-rays, he came in, asked me about my problem and listened patiently while I attempted to impress him with my extensive knowledge of the knee and its inner workings (via the Internet). You know doctors have got to love that.

After listening to me ramble, he calmly explained to me what the real problem was and we got down to business.

We did the cortisone shots over several months, but they weren’t much help. After more X-rays, he determined that I was indeed a viable candidate for surgery. Shane, his assistant, who had worked with me through the whole process, brought in a model, answered my many questions and gave me a packet to take home explaining the knee and the surgery.

The pamphlet said to be sure to select a surgeon who has performed at least 23 of these procedures. I questioned Dr. Cobb, but I think he and Shane had stopped counting after 200. Shane informed me that the number was closer to 300. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s website had rated Dr. Cobb with five stars, and at that point, I knew I had my man.

After several phone calls, he asked me if I would consider doing the surgery outpatient. I told him that I would be delighted. I had complete and utter confidence in his abilities and in the device itself. This would cut the overall costs, and if I am to be truthful, that certainly played a part in my decision.

The outpatient procedure

The procedure was scheduled at the Physician’s Surgery Center. First let me say, I knew no one. I arrived at 6:30 a.m. on the big day, along with my family. I had no time bid farewell, as they ushered me back as quickly as I arrived.

As soon as I donned a lovely hospital gown, Dr. Seabrook, the anesthesiologist, came in to greet me. He was personable, funny and did everything possible to make me feel comfortable about his part in the procedure. Administering anesthesia and a pain block for the knee is a bit tricky on an overweight person, but Dr. Cobb let me know, in no uncertain terms, that Dr. Seabrook and his staff were the very best.

Shane came next, with a big happy smile and a little blue cap on his head. I was happy to see someone I knew. He told me not to worry, and I began to relax.

Finally, Dr. Cobb made his entrance, stood by the bed trying to be reassuring in that way that doctors have. I asked him if he had slept well, and he told me with a chuckle that he had. The last words I remember saying before they rolled me away: “Pretend I’m your mother.”

I think that must have worked because, before I knew it, I was waking up and still had both legs.

Now let’s talk about the surgery center. I want everyone to know how absolutely thrilled I was with the care I received. Keep in mind, I was only there for a day, but by the end of that day, I felt I had gained a family.

When I woke up after surgery, my whole left leg was dead, down to the very toes. The nurses put me first, and instead of insisting I use a bedpan, helped me to and from the bathroom. This was no easy feat. I was on a walker and had an entourage of nurses, male and female, following me like a chorus line. It was embarrassing, but certainly necessary.

These people are wonderful. They genuinely care about their work. In addition to taking my vitals about 100 times that day, Kendra and others checked on me again and again. Even Beth, the nurse who did my blood work, came back to see me. This was amazing.

Since I have been home, I have had no less than three phone calls from surgery center personnel. One of the calls came five days after the surgery.

The short recovery

I want the world to know that I walked out of the surgery center about 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon with a walker and one dead leg. And by Saturday, I was managing the stairs with the help of the banister. The pain block that Dr. Seabrook administered did not wear off completely until Friday afternoon.

I am very serious when I tell you that I took a total of two pain pills over my entire recovery period, not really for pain, but because I was uncomfortable, and I was having trouble sleeping.

Dr. Cobb and his team have been a godsend. No matter how full the waiting room, I always felt like I was his only patient. Do you know how very rare that is? He checked on me several times at home after the surgery. Please know how very much I appreciate your concern and attention. You are a credit to your profession and West Tennessee Bone and Joint is so very lucky to have you.

I know many people in and around Jackson are just like me, living with knee pain, hoping things will get better, trying to tough it out, maybe afraid of doctors, hospitals, surgery or all of it. I want you to know, it’s not what you think!

Within a week, I was back at work, talking with customers and taking care of business. Every day my life gets better and better.

I do the exercises and follow my doctor’s instructions. I don’t expect perfection or some type of bionic knee. I would just like to be able to walk in the sand, climb stairs, mow the yard, take care of my family and live my life. Thanks to these dedicated physicians and nurses, not in Memphis, not in Nashville, but right here at home in Jackson, I am able to do just that. I am so very, very grateful. Thank you.

Read more about outpatient knee surgery.