Joyce Slayton Mitchell – Hardwick, VT

Shoulder Replacement

 
“We are going to give you two extra hours of free time while you are in Xi’an so you can see the Terra Cotta Soldiers.”

“I’ve already seen the Terra Cotta’s they were at the Guggenheim in NYC… I heard I can ride a bike on top of the ancient city wall in Xi’an?? I want to bike on that wall for my two hours!”

Just two years before that conversation, in the summer of 2008 when playing tennis in my Vermont hometown, my shoulder was too painful to serve. Being the oldest in the group (by ten years), and knowing if I didn’t keep up, I would have to say good-by to my tennis team. My hoped-for solution was to check out HSS because I knew they had Sports Medicine. At the time I was 75, and I knew, too, that many doctors don’t take little old ladies seriously (and this one is 5 feet on her tip-toes)… “keep them comfortable” is the drill. I figured to get around that problem, “Sports Medicine” should be my solution. Checking HSS online I spied a top-educated, competent-looking, shoulder-knee guy, Dr. Robert Marx from Montreal (very close to Northern Vermont) who looked like my kind of doctor. At my first visit I learned that we had played golf on the same Vermont golf course and so I knew I was in luck!

“How old are you?” he asked.

“I’m not going to say… I am not going to fool around with P.T. or a shot of cortisone to make it feel better.”

“I’m your doctor, how old are you?”

“70 something.”

After the tests and conversation and surgery was agreed upon, performed, and my body was back in shape for anything, I left my NYC college advisory job and headed for China, sight-unseen. With my shoulder “better than new” I wanted to search for more adventure in my life. On the first short trip, I sold a newspaper column idea: College Advice USA. The second trip was a little longer trip, I sold The Chinese Guide to American Colleges and was sponsored for a blog and Weibo (Twitter) in China. On that second trip, I knew I was really “back in the game” as I toured 8 cities all over China to promote my book with a very young marketing staff (see photos). Thank you Dr. Marx! Thank you HSS Sports Medicine!

Fast forward to 2015. My right hand had been giving me a lot of pain at night for about three years, but during the day I would forget it, although I had asked two different doctors about it without a diagnosis. At Christmas time in NZ with my tennis-playing daughter and her partner, I got to play tennis in the winter-time. I was playing mixed doubles, we were about to win the Friday’s competition, when my racket slipped in my hand and I lost the point. That’s it!! I Googled “Carpel Tunnel.” Yup, Carpel Tunnel is the problem. I immediately emailed HSS’s Dr. Marx after all these 7 years and told him the story. He emailed back within the next few hours, “Call – do not email – Dr. Fufa.” No discussion necessary. Got an appointment for the day of my return from New Zealand.

“I don’t want P.T. or a Cortisone shot. I need surgery. I am leaving to go back to China for a consulting job in three weeks.”

“Well let’s take a look,” said a very, very young, very, very beautiful doctor Fufa. After she did the necessary tests and I learned that she speaks Mandarin and has a Chinese mother, she said, “we’ll schedule surgery.”

I’m not sure what impressed me the most: her looks, her assurance, her Mandarin, or her style. What I am sure of is that her confident voice in the operating room (I opted for a local anesthesia) was memorable. Two weeks later, bandages off as promised. And one week after that, I was on Air China- flying back to the China Game!! I left the USA to give some workshops and write about US College Admissions. I’ll be 82 in August 2015, and will be playing tennis this summer with my improved right hand.

I’m happy to give HSS all the credit, praise and gratitude in the world for taking their logo seriously of getting people back in the game – even little old ladies! SPECIAL THANKS TO Dr. Marx and Dr. Fufa at HSS with all my heart!

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