Quick repairs save the day for Roscommon couple when it came to needed hip surgery
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 10:23am caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic put plenty of hurdles in front of a Roscommon couple when it came to getting a much needed medical procedure, but due to the swift work from local repair technicians, getting to the hospital with precious time to spare was not one of them.
Joan and John Waterman live just outside of the Village of Roscommon.
Around the holidays, Joan started experiencing pain in her left hip.
An x-ray and two Magnetic resonance imaging scans completed at the Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital confirmed that Joan’s hip joint had went bad and she needed a hip replacement.
Dr. Joseph M. McGraw, from the Great Lakes Orthopedic Center, was slated to do the hip replacement surgery, but elective surgeries were stopped on March 14 so hospital staff and doctors could address the coronavirus, a highly contagious and sometimes deadly respiratory disease.
The couple had faith in Dr. McGraw because he completed a hip replacement for Joan’s mother, Leota, 30 years ago. Leota, age 97, lives in Waterford with family.
“I remember when she was hopping around after her surgery,” John said, regarding Leota.
Joan remained at home, but the nagging hip pain continued despite the medications she was given to try to cope.
“It gets to the point where you can’t stand it,” she said.
The Watermans returned to the emergency room at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital on May 14 in hopes of getting some relief for Joan to alleviate the pain.
The offer of more powerful painkillers was not something Joan wanted to hear.
“I was miserable,” she said. “It was terrible. I was already on enough narcotics to take care of the pain, supposedly, and I just didn’t want any more, so I just had to cope with it.”
Any tasks, including sleeping, were uncomfortable for Joan if she had to put weight on her hip joint.
“She couldn’t put any weight on it to speak of,” John said.
Elective surgeries resumed at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City on May 29. Joan went for preoperative tests on June 12 with her surgery scheduled for June 15.
The Watersmans left their home around 8 a.m. for an 10:15 a.m. appointment for the hip surgery. They could have traveled back roads to get to Traverse City, but John was concerned that they would lose cellular phone signals.
They traveled up on northbound I-75 and got off on Four Mile Road. They were right behind a semi-truck when they started to smell radiator steam. They then noticed the steam was coming out from under the hood of their 2010 Dodge Caravan.
John coasted the vehicle in front of one of the big bays at the Fick & Sons Diesel Garage located at Charlie’s Country Corner.
“We probably wouldn’t have gone 10 miles and we would have had to stop the car,” John said.
The culprit for the steam coming from out from under the van’s hood was a small hose that ruptured used to run the vehicle’s heating system.
Service Technician Jered Laws came out to see what was going on, and John explained the need to get Joan to the hospital to have the surgery on time.
Bill Patterson, who works as the service writer at the repair facility, ordered a set of radiator hoses. They were quickly delivered to the repair facility, where they normally work on big rigs, trucks, and busses.
Patterson said he appreciates that the repair facility has employees that are willing to assess a situation during an emergency. He said some jobs are quick while others can take several hours.
“We had to get him in and we had to get it fixed right,” Patterson said.
Meanwhile, John called his neighbor, Tom Kaske, who came to the repair shop with his van.
John said a pick-up truck or passenger car could not be used because Joan needed a comfortable ride to the hospital.
“She just couldn’t take it,” he said. “It would have beat her to death.”
The new parts were delivered to the repair facility, Laws removed the damaged hose, and put the new one on the van. The delivery and work was completed within 30 minutes.
Laws said he could tell the Watermans were pretty distraught because they thought they were going to be late for the surgery. He said he was glad that his experience and talents came through to help the couple in their time of need.
“It is one of the main reasons I do what I do, being able to help people,” Laws said. “A lot of people can’t work on vehicles or don’t have any knowledge of them. It’s one of those gratifying factors that comes with the job.”
The repairs were completed before they had to transfer Joan into the other van. John even contemplated calling 911 to arrange for an ambulance. He called the hospital, and personnel gave the more time before their anticipated arrival.
“We didn’t have a choice, because she couldn’t wait for another surgery date,” John said. “There was just no way possible.”
Joan remained patiently in the van during the whole ordeal.
“I was just there hoping to God that somebody would do something, because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I couldn’t put it off another day or another week,” she said. “I was so looking forward to getting up there. That was the first time I could remember that I couldn’t wait to get to the doctor or the hospital to have an operation.”
John said that the service provided by Laws and Patterson was nothing short than a gift from God in their critical time of need.
“It was incredible to see those guys do that,” he said. “I remember when I was young, people used to do that all the time. If you had a problem, they just get going on it, but you don’t expect that too much anymore. Those guys performed a miracle.”
Joan is now able to walk around her home without a cane, but still needs help going up and down steps. She uses a cane when she is out in the community, especially in areas where there are uneven surfaces.
“Until I’m sure of myself, I still take the cane with me,” she said.