Carolyn: Right Place, Right Time

Carolyn Throckmorton

Carolyn T.’s positive experience with Mercy Medical Center was truly a case of being in the right place at the right time, and meeting the right people who knew the right doctors.

As a result of degenerative issues, Carolyn, who lives in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, suffered with terrible pains in both knees that had gradually limited her activities for a number of years.

A retired X-ray and CT Scan Technician at a North Carolina Hospital, she had retired and continued an active life that including daily bike rides, yard work, jamming rhythm and blues on the alto sax with friends, and occasionally doing some fishing. But there was always those nagging knees. “I knew for 15 years that I needed to have something done,” she said. “I had an MRI and I knew it wasn’t good, but I just wasn’t sure what the next step was.”

A Step in the Right Direction

In 2012, Carolyn was visiting her daughter and granddaughter who lived in Aberdeen, MD, not far from Baltimore. They went on a shopping trip to a local mall and when her granddaughter wanted to go into a pet shop to look at the animals, Carolyn chose instead to sit on a nearby bench to relive her aching knees. “I had to sit down,” she said. “I just couldn’t walk that far.” 

As she sat down a woman, a complete stranger, who had noticed Carolyn’s laboring walk to the bench, approached her.  “I’ve never seen the woman before in my life and she came up to me and said she’d just had hip replacement surgery done at Mercy Medical Center and that it was a wonderful experience and I might want to look into it. She gave me her doctor’s name and left.” 

Right place, right time, right doctor.

The doctor’s name was Dr. Kamala Littleton, an orthopedic surgeon in Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy. Dr. Littleton happens to specialize in knee replacement.


A Long-Distance Leap of Faith

Carolyn called and made an appointment to see Dr. Littleton. It didn’t matter that she was nearly 300 miles away. She said she felt like something was pointing her knees due north. “Things like that are just meant to be,” she said. “I couldn’t ignore it.”

So she headed north to visit her daughter, and met with Dr. Littleton who Carolyn describes as “an angel.” Dr. Littleton initially tried a series of cortisone injections in Carolyn’s left knee, the most troublesome one. “After the injections Dr. Littleton said to me, ‘no more injections. You need to think about having your knees replaced.’”

So Carolyn went home to her farm in North Carolina and thought about it, but not for long. “I trusted Dr. Littleton,” she said. “She didn’t sugarcoat things. I knew what I had to do.”

Marching Toward Full Recovery

In March 2012, Carolyn headed north again where Dr. Littleton performed a total knee replacement on her left knee. Her  recovery from the surgery was faster than a chance meeting with a stranger at a mall. She had the surgery on a Monday and was up and walking on Tuesday and later released from the hospital on Thursday. 

She lived with her daughter during her rehabilitation and had a friend from New Jersey come to stay to support her, but she said it all went so well she didn’t need much help. “The recovery was very quick, she said. I was even driving myself a short time after the surgery.”

Carolyn called the first knee replacement “the best thing I ever did.” In fact, the experience was so good that once she was fully recovered, Carolyn contacted Dr. Littleton and scheduled replacement surgery for the right knee. That surgery was completed in October of the same year and the experience, she said, was equal to the first replacement. 

“Really Dr. Littleton was fantastic, and the result of the first knee replacement was so life-changing that I didn’t hesitate to get the second knee done,” she said. “Dr. Littleton is very personable and really spends time with you. I felt like she really cared about my surgery and me.  I wish she could be my primary doctor and take care of all my medical needs. She’s that good.”

As for her experience with Mercy, she said she could not have asked for anything better.  “I worked in hospitals for many years, so I know them, and Mercy was perfect,” she noted.  “It was clean and efficient and the nurses were prompt and professional. I was very impressed all around.”

Strides Made Because of a Caring Stranger

With her new knees in place, Carolyn is now back at the farm in North Carolina where she bikes 10 miles a day, keeps up on her yard work and even goes out dancing sometimes and likes to do the Electric Slide. “I’m not limited at all,” she says. “I can do anything that I could do before and now I do it without pain.”

Through the whole bi-lateral knee replacement experience, Carolyn says she has only one regret – that she never got the name of the stranger who gave her the advice in the mall that day that changed her life and her knees forever. “I wish now I knew how to contact her,” she said. “I’d like to thank her. She gave me excellent advice.”

Orthopedics and Joint Replacement at Mercy includes top rated orthopedic surgeons offering innovative joint, hip and knee preservation, replacement and treatment options.