Patient Story

Lynn's story: Confident in and grateful for her surgeon's expertise

Lynn Richey talks about her journey of hip replacement surgery that took place at Northside Duluth.

I had an emergency total right hip replacement after suffering from an acute break. Unfortunately, I immediately came down with an infection. When it appeared that my infection was not improving—I received a referral to Dr. Robert Wood for a follow-up revision surgery.

I will forever be grateful for the referral to Dr. Wood. I truly believe that his tenacity and work with my infectious disease physician saved my life and my hip.

My story began in December 2018 when I apparently broke my hip. I say apparently because I kept living my busy life while gritting through the worsening pain. I went to several doctors explaining something was wrong and getting worse.

They’d tell me “It’s your back,” and I’d say “No, it’s not my back,” but to no avail. When I displaced my femur and I could not stand, the paramedic angels hauled me into the emergency room. It was there that I received a correct diagnosis of a hip fracture. This was March 25, 2019.

I had my first total hip replacement on March 26, 2019, followed by a debridement surgery on April 12, 2019.

In May 2019 I was referred to Dr. Wood and he immediately conferred with my infectious disease doctor to put together a plan for me.

Dr. Wood built an antibiotic spacer that was customized for me and he performed his first revision later in June of 2019.

As time went by, Dr. Wood learned about me and I grew to trust my gut feelings. Through the many bacteria cultures, weekly bloodwork, and fluid build-up, he somehow kept his sense of humor. I deal with most things through humor and he rolled with it perfectly. Before my fourth procedure, I gave him a card with a zipper in it for him to install. He loved it and he has held on to it since then.

Dr. Wood’s staff became family; they were all emotionally involved and supportive of me. It was a great team. The Northside Hospital Duluth was fantastic. I can remember and name every nurse who assisted me. I truly love them all.

We were between homes and were forced to move from accommodation to accommodation until our new home was ready. I moved in a wheelchair and we quickly met neighbors who wanted to help. That part was amazing and a great welcome to our new neighborhood.

I briefly became discouraged along the way, tearing up at the news of another surgery. Dr. Wood appeared stoic, but he was emotionally invested and supportive. He hated that he wasn’t winning (yet) against my omnipresent and changing seromas and bugs. One super impressive attack he made was to take me into surgery to debride and install an antibiotic spacer in week one. I stayed in the hospital with drains, IVs, blood counts, etc.

As my body reacted to the surgery and the antibiotics in a challenging way in the second week, Dr. Wood too me back to the operating room to see exactly what was going on. 

After having a CAT scan done, it was discovered that the intense pain I had been having for a month in my hip was actually my gallbladder dying and then rotting. The bacteria had shown up in my bloodwork and culture, which was a surprise, and it finally made sense.

After another emergency surgery, we were back on track and I recovered from being very sick and way too close to the edge.

As I went in for what I thought would be my last surgery in August of 2020, I found out that my previous culture scans appeared to have bacterial growth—which could have been the result of testing contamination. As disappointed as I was, I knew that my permanent prosthetic could not be placed. As I faced a derailment for the umpteenth time, I knew that Dr. Wood was making the right call.

The best Christmas gift for me was getting my final hip in December 2020. Moreover, after ten surgeries, countless iv’s and a crew of people rowing this boat, my wound finally closed in June 2021.

To this day, I continue to check in with Dr. Wood and my infectious disease team, and I am now in serious muscle rebuilding mode. This fall, I will once again be a patient of Dr. Wood as he prepares to replace my knee. My husband has already had the same knee surgery from Dr. Wood and the recovery was nothing short of miraculous.

This time, I am not afraid. I know I have this. I have the best surgeon as my partner, Dr Wood.


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