Date of Surgery: 4/30/2012
Bilateral Knee Replacements
Update (3/2013): ReCe is currently instructing full-time at Vail Mountain.
I live in Edwards, Colorado and have been teaching skiing at Vail Ski and Snowboard School for 32 years. While I was in college I started to teach skiing for the sole purpose of a free ski pass. I was going to be a Psychologist and I also have a teaching degree. I fell in love with teaching and would rather teach than free ski. (With the exception of an amazing, perfect powder day). I am very blessed to have a job that is not a job but a passion.
During my career I have been an active member with PSIA and have Alpine Cert Level 2 and Child Specialist 2. I was injured badly the day before my Level 3 exam after training for years. That injury resulted in three surgeries including a femoral osteotomy. At that time it was decided that my only option would be two total knee replacements but the problem was I was too young and the replacements would not last my life span. I continued to teach full time the last 14 years with the help of lots of Supartz injections and an extensive workout plan. I have been awarded Premier Service Awards from my guests and the Epic Safety Award from the Ski Patrol/Yellow Jacket program. I have a high guest request/return rate and have helped to train new and advancing instructors. Depending on my recovery I plan to take my Level 3 exam in the future.
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
On April 30, 2012 I had double total knee replacements. I am two months past surgery today and I have total extension and walk without a limp. I have good strength and balance. My challenge is flexion since my knees only flexed to 85 degrees before surgery. I am currently at 110 degrees and have a minimum goal of 125. My recovery time is expected to be about 6
months. I can already do most of my Fit to Ride test and am working on rehabilitation as my full time job. I go to Vail Integrated Medical Group for my rehab and spend about 3 hours there every day. They use massage, stretching, Grafton, ART, strength and balance exercises. I also do a home program and a Pilates and yoga program at Aria fitness center. I expect to ski in early November and start to work when the mountain opens before Thanksgiving.
"It is because of the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation that I have been able to have the best medical care and rehabilitation. I am a single mom and I would have had to find a full time desk job to pay my mortgage and support my daughter. In that scenario my knees would get stuck without flexion again and it would be very difficult for me to return to teaching. Also, I could have possibly lost my home due to medical debt. Putting my recovery first will allow me to recover to the best possible shape. I am looking forward to a life without constant pain with knees that will bend so that I can ride a bike again. (I haven’t been able to pedal a bike in recent years and I love to bike.) I will be able to walk down stairs one foot after another and possibly be able to run a bit. These are gifts without measure and they would not have been possible without the help of the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. I am forever grateful. Thank you!"
- ReCe Chilton