A Very Hip Grandmother

Barbara Dubow, a registered professional nurse, worked in the health-care field for 41 years. She is well known in the Ithaca community as the former school nurse at Boynton Middle School and as a skilled caregiver at both Cayuga Medical Center and Surgicare. Dubow, now 63 and recently retired from nursing for the second time, is busier than ever in her role as “Granna” to three active young grandchildren. When her precious young charges visit, Dubow’s time is taken up with rousing rounds of kickball in the backyard, climbing up and down steps at the lake for fishing with the boys, and playing on the floor with her ten-month-old granddaughter. Nine months ago, however, this kind of activity would simply not have been feasible.

The pain in Dubow’s hip started in 2006. At first she thought the pain might be related to her Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain. But even after she saw her doctor and treated the pain with both medication and physical therapy, the problem persisted. A subsequent MRI showed arthritis in her hip joint, and over the years the pain grew steadily worse. If she bent down to pick something up off the floor, she had trouble getting back up. Just walking out to the mailbox and back had become very painful.

“My primary-care physician is Dr. Tim Cardina and I have the utmost confidence in him; he’s taken excellent care of me over the years. He recommended that I see Dr. Deidre Blake because other patients of his had very good experiences with her. She’s been great!” says Dubow. “She took a lot of time with us and answered all of our questions.” Blake, who is in practice with Orthopedic Services of Cayuga Medical Associates, has special expertise in joint replacement and joint revision surgery. After an appointment with Blake in December 2014, Dubow was scheduled for total hip replacement surgery on January 6, 2015. During the intervening month, Dubow and her husband attended the Joint Solutions program at Cayuga Medical Center. The program gave the Dubows an overview of the surgery, the pre and post-operative experience, and the recovery process. They went home with a packet of helpful information, including exercises for Barbara to do to prepare for the surgery. “It was a wonderful program,” she says.

Dubow also checked in with her cardiologist, Dr. Lynn Swisher. “I went into atrial flutter [abnormal heartbeat] about a month before my hip surgery, and I was concerned about anesthesia,” says Dubow. “Dr. Swisher cleared me for surgery, and I was fortunate to have Dr. Christina Klufas as my anesthesiologist. She was an intensivist before becoming an anesthesiologist, and she was great about taking my various medical problems into consideration. I had no problems with nausea after surgery,” adds Dubow, “and my husband was the best nurse I could have asked for once I got home.” After six weeks of physical therapy Dubow grew stronger, and by March she was confidently walking without a cane.

“I’ve had a number of surgeries over the years. With the exception of heart valve surgery, which I had performed at the Cleveland Clinic, all of my surgeries have been done at Cayuga Medical Center. I wouldn’t think of going anywhere else,” says Dubow. “I have a lot of confidence in my doctors and in this hospital. I’ve had lithotripsy here, major kidney surgery, and an exploratory abdominal laparotomy. I delivered both of my children here, as well.

“I did my registered nurse training in a major teaching hospital; it was a big place,” Dubow continues. “I feel the care I get at Cayuga Medical Center is much more personal. Whenever I have been a patient here, people try very hard to make sure that all of my needs are met. We have a very fine group of doctors—I think good physicians flock here because it’s such a beautiful place to live.

“I’m doing great. I have no more pain in my hip at all and I’m riding my bicycle again. My goal for this hip surgery was to be able to play with my grandchildren,” Dubow says as she prepares for a visit from them. “Now I can do that!”

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