Healthy NEPA Makeover
I’ve been in more doctors’ offices in the past five weeks than I have been in the previous 50 years. And I’m very happy that I was in Scranton when I needed all this medical attention. Arthritic knees predicted I’d have to get knee replacements. I put it off for as long as I could with medication, exercise and grit, but by last Thanksgiving it was time to schedule surgery. But a little growth would get infected on and off. Dr. John Doherty told me I had to get that taken care of before work on my knees. So, for only the second time in my life, I went into a hospital as a patient. As a young man, I had spent a year working as an orderly at a hospital in Philadelphia. And as a priest, I’ve spent many hours and days in hospitals. So, I know hospitals. From the moment I walked into Geisinger Community Medical Center in December for the outpatient surgery, I realized I was in good hands. Dr. Joseph P. Bannon, M.D., the other doctors and nurses were all precise, professional and proficient, with a good measure of Scranton friendliness to make me feel comfortable. Soon, it was over. Less hassle than the DMV. After Christmas, a tooth started bothering me. Off to Dr. Timothy McGurrin, DMD. “You need a root canal.” Off to Dr. Gary Wadsworth, DMD. “Look, Father. I could do a root canal, but I’m not sure it will really work. Looks like you really need to get it pulled.” Here’s a guy who could make some money, and he declines. He cared more about me than the buck. The tooth retires after 63 years of service. A week later, I notice a weird bar of light off to the left of my eye. I call Dr. Peter Cognetti. The receptionist says, “Come on in. The PA will look at it.” “When?” I ask. She says, “Come now.” Cognetti’s PA and Cognetti look at my eye. “We’re gonna send you over to Northeast Eye.” “Doc, I’ve got Mass this afternoon.” “Cancel. You only have two eyes. Let’s not take any chances.” Twenty minutes later my eyes are dilated. The first eye doc looks. More dilation. More looking. Then they take me to Dr. Randall Peairs. “There it is ... A tear in the retina. Tough place to see. Tough place to get to. You’re not gonna like me too much.” He’s gonna do laser surgery on my eye? One of the nurses tells me, “You really want this. The tear can allow fluid to get in there and you could suffer a detached retina.” From the time I called Cognetti until I was home: four hours. In Philly, I can’t imagine getting all that done that fast. A couple of weeks later, it’s 5:45 a.m. and they’re getting me ready for bilateral knee replacement. Doherty’s team has this cool website that explains everything. Any time I have a question, I message the team and get a prompt response from patient navigator Marjorie Ecker. And, a week before the operation, a nurse explains everything again. Everyone who has had knee replacement has told me it’s horrible, but you’ll be happy when it’s over. The big day. GCMC again. Great nurses and anesthesia docs. Next thing I know I’m in the recovery room. Big bandages on both legs. I was warned that the stuff they put in the knees numbs things for 24 hours. There’s a board on the wall with my nurse’s name. It also says I can ask for oxcycodone or dilaudid. I ready myself for the pain to come. Miracle of miracles, it never does. I’m on my feet that evening and the day after. The therapists get me walking and even in and out of a “car.” My knee bends 90 degrees and lays out 180 degrees straight. Doherty is an excellent surgeon. The nurses, Danielle Haas, Maria Brogna and Rose Graumann are superb. The floor runs like a well-prepared team. Then it’s off for a few days at Allied Health Services. Carmine Ambrosino, Christine Marley and Gary Gifford put me through the paces. Exercises and workouts. Day five post-op, I’m motoring with the walker and pushing pedals on a bike-type machine. Day six, I go up and down stairs. I can’t believe it. I have had no pain. No heavy drugs. And the food is good at Allied. The people, even better. What I thought was going to be hell on earth became kind of like a restful week on retreat. So many medical professionals in this town gave me the ultimate Scranton makeover. Friends from Philly couldn’t believe I’d get this done here. I’m glad I did. So many great advantages in Scranton don’t get hyped enough. We should let the world know what a great place this is. And, can you believe it? Parking is free at GCMC!