I’m a REALTOR of many years. I also am a professional photographer. To do both jobs I need good knees and strong legs. I injured my right knee 16 years ago right before my trip to Peru to hike for 2 weeks and get married at Machu Pichu.  That certainly hindered having a good time hiking with pain at high altitudes as every step was so uncomfortable. 


Once back from that trip I began treatment. Long story short, I had 3 arthroscopic knee surgeries over the years and many types of injections over the years to help me maintain the active lifestyle my wife and I love to live and my jobs demanded. Now in my 60’s and having used my left knee to take the load of the right all these years I sat looking at x-rays of bone on bone in both legs. Just plain walking was agony with every step. I was no longer able to walk land with buyers or make up and down stairs. I needed a more aggressive treatment and fast. 


Dr. Robert Belniak


One of the upsides of being real estate agent is you meet a bunch of people from all walks of life. I met a client and now friend Ray Guasp through one my online marketing campaigns. Ray owns a company that sells surgical prosthetics for knees, shoulders, hips and the like. He could see I limped from time to time and told me if I ever needed replacement surgery that Dr. Robert Belniak was the choice he’d make if it were him undergoing the surgery. After several appointments with Bob over the next few years and getting occasional treatments by injection I finally could take no more and decided to get the surgery that will change my life. No more killing my internal organs from constant intake of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain pills!


After many discussions and much contemplation I chose to do bilateral partial knee replacement surgery using MAKOplasty, a surgical procedure for partial knee or total hip arthroplasty using a RIO Robotic Arm. This Interactive Orthopedic System was developed by MAKO Surgical Corp. According to the latest wikipedia article, RIO is cleared by the FDA for use in surgical knee and hip procedures. What’s cool is that they take a CT scan of the bones they’re to fit the prosthetic to based on reference points made elsewhere on the femur and tibia. The surgeon can create a perfect negative space to receive the prosthetic being installed. The result is less pain and recovery time along with a higher success rate. 


My bone on bone knees that caused me pain with each step


But MAKO is a means, not an end. It takes a highly skilled surgeon to perform this procedure. A wanted a surgeon with experience, finesses, and track record that would give me great comfort to proceed with such an operation. For me that was Dr. Robert Belniak of New Britain Orthopedic Surgeons at the Grove Hill Medical Center located at 1 Lake St., in New Britain, CT. Dr. Belniak’s demeanor, experience, and confidence along with a wonderful bedside manor puts you at ease. He’s patient and takes the time to answer your myriad questions about the surgery, use of robotics, recovery, pain, and the like. 


My implants as they appear from the front. Note the space between the top and bottom



And from the side...Pretty amazing!



A great surgeon surrounds himself with the most competent of staff possible. Xiomara is a fierce patient advocate and schedules your surgery and ancillary preparation appointments. She is adept at punching through the ridiculous insurance company red tape that seeks to keep your from getting well!  In deference to my travel distance she rescheduled 3 appointments over as many days into one single day with a smile so I only had to drive up and back once.


Belniak's staff are all A-list players and at the top of the list is Caitlin Sweeney, PA. Caitlin loves her job as Dr. Belniak’s Physicians Assistant it shows in how she works with patients. Her wide smile and effervescent personality puts you at ease immediately as she puts all your concerns into perspective. You never feel that you're short changed by not seeing "the doctor" as she is well equipped to handle all of your needs when Dr. Belniak is not available. She's also a millennial and I enjoyed the immediate access to here via text when I needed a question answered or my prescription filled. All-in-all The Belniak team could not be a better group and their synergy is apparent as you go through the process. 


My surgery was performed at and I couldn’t have been happier with how everything was handled and the care I received afterwards. It was the polar opposite of my spine surgery experience at the so-call magnet hospital known as Middlesex Hospital which was abysmal at best.


The Hospital of Central Connectciut had me feeling more like a hotel guest than a patient with so much loving and competent care one rarely needed to hit a call button. The well healed staff seemed to anticipate my every need and thus no matter what shift was on I was received absolutely the best care one could possibly hope for. I live just 15 minutes from Middlesex Hospital so driving an extra 30 minutes to get to HOCC speaks volumes about the differences between the two hospitals. Congratulations to The Hospital of Central Connecticut for not only knowing how to choose the right people to work there…but how to motivate them around the clock to a level of excellence anyone would be proud of. 


I am writing this blog 33 days post procedure. I reached full independence nearly a week ago walking without any aids, driving again, and back to an almost full work schedule as my stamina is not yet 100%. I diligently do my physical therapy twice a day and thank everyone from Dr. Belniak to Dr. Jonathan Patrick from Atrinity Home Healthcare, my in-home physical therapist for job well done and helping me get back to living life way ahead of the norm. Dr. Jonathan Patrick is simply THE best physical therapist I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. If you ever need in-home therapy you’ll not be disappointed. By the by, I had originally requested in-home care from another company but when I was told Jonathan Patrick no longer worked for them I found out where he went and called them instead. When Jonathan leaves you you’ll always feel better and your pain will be lessened or gone altogether.  Atrinity was the smart company that grabbed him up and delighted how quickly I progress and how good I feel under his care and guidance. You need a complete team to win this game and I certainly was lucky to have chosen a winning team for my healthcare needs in this case. 


Gladeview is located at 60 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook, right on the water and offers views as nice as the care and staff is...


There’s one more piece to this story I’m saving for last because it was the most important decision I feel I made in this journey: Choosing to do my initial rehabilitation at an in-care rehabilitation facility. For me the choice was easy…Gladeview Health Care Center in old Saybrook, CT owned and operated by Linda Silberstein and run by executive director Paul Knutsen. Coming here continued the feeling I had from The Hospital of Central Connecticut where I felt like more a hotel guest than patient.


I was welcomed to the second floor by a staff so warm, welcoming and loving it seemed not believable but trust me…it was for real. Here too I my needs were mostly anticipated but there were times I needed that call button and boy did I ever use it. The first week was very tough and between the drugs I was on for pain and other symptoms coupled with the unfamiliar surroundings so I needed attention at night especially. I apologized for pressing the call button most times but I was told never to be concerned and that they were here to help when I needed it. They were not merely words as each time they came it was with a smile and attitude that made you feel at ease which creates an atmosphere one can truly heal fast and well in.  


It mattered not whether it was the 1st, 2nd and 3rd shifts, from the nurse assistants to the nurses themselves, I was treated was such care and competence it blew me away. Some services and care in long term and rehabilitation facilities can be empirically measured and tracked, but some can only be felt. Believe me when I tell you that the staff here has also been well chosen and the management model employed keeps this facility the cleanest of all I’ve ever been in. I've not personally been in many as a patient buy I was in many when I shopped for a place for my now deceased mother-in-law. I always knew I was in a nursing home or long term care facility by it’s foul smell and especially the smell human urine which spoke volumes of how the facility was run before you even talked to anyone.


At Gladeview you’ll not find this. It’s super clean and very well managed. From the maintenance folks to it’s management personnel, they are among the happiest people and most competent I’ve seen in any business. Running a facility and keeping it compliant with the myriad regulations is no joke and they are on it 24/7. Most notable was how the entire staff treated those who were truly dependent on staff for everything. These are the folks that are in wheelchairs, extremely old, in a condition we all hope isn’t us one day. The ones that are the most helpless and the ones you read about in some news articles. These are the ones easiest to abuse or leave unattended because they can't truly speak up for themselves. I can say as a fly on the wall and witness that not one of these patients were ever mistreated or forgotten. The staff spoke to these patients often, attended to their every need promptly, and left me with the feeling that I had chosen a place that somehow had found many people from many walks of life and means that truly knew and had compassion in their hearts. This is a staff whom had chosen a field where they could be of service, where they could help others heal with dignity and go home feeling good about themselves.  Thank you to the entire staff and to Linda and Paul for your good work. Lastly this is a special shout out to all of the great staff members in the physical and occupational therapy department as it's your good work that pushed me back to self-sufficiency, that got me on my feet and home in just 2 weeks and in time for Christmas with my family. Much love to you all.