December 18, 2023

Stories That Move Us: Jean Thayer

Jean Thayer lived with pain from various health conditions for more than 30 years. More recently, severe arthritis, specifically bone-on-bone in both knees and hips, was contributing to her daily pain and caused her to become more and more immobile. And while Jean had a lot of concerns about surgery, from her weight to being on blood thinners, she knew the state of life she was in was simply existing, no longer living a quality life, and something needed to be done.

Jean said she had never been to an orthopedic doctor before her primary care physician referred her to Dr. Jamie Kay in 2017. “When I first came to Central Indiana Orthopedics, I remember Dr. Kay’s office was down the hallway, and I wasn’t even sure if I could make it that far due to the pain,” Jean said. “Dr. Kay and his staff were so compassionate and didn’t judge me because of my weight. They gave me hope that surgery was possible.”

Dr. Kay and Jean discussed weight loss in detail during that first visit, and she left feeling hopeful and determined to turn things around. “They inspired me to get my life back,” Jean said. “I knew I really needed to start with my weight in order to be able to have some kind of quality of life again.” She followed up six weeks later for another injection in her knees, but then didn’t return to see Dr. Kay until 2021. During those four years, Jean made the first step toward a better quality of life and had bariatric surgery. Losing a significant amount of weight from the surgery, she became a candidate for joint replacement and was another step closer to living without constant pain.

In June 2021, Jean had her left knee replaced. After being pleased with the results and progressing well, she had her right knee replaced just four months later in October. With her knee replacements crossed off the list, it was time to focus on her hips. Like her knees, Jean’s hips were also severely arthritic, failed conservative treatment and needed replaced. Since her pain was stronger in her right hip, Dr. Kay recommended she get the right hip replaced first. She had her right hip replaced in February 2023, and the left hip replaced eight months later in October.

Since the surgeries, Jean says her life has completely changed, and she feels 20 years younger. Not only is she walking without assistance and climbing stairs, but she’s able to do things that she hasn’t been able to do in years, like visiting Kings Island, Great Wolf Lodge, Holiday World and the Indianapolis 500 for the race and qualifications. “I’m so much happier and enjoying life again,” Jean said.

Jean says being able to walk without pain is amazing, and Dr. Kay/team literally saved her life. “Dr. Kay is such a talented surgeon, and I trust him completely,” Jean said. “I would wholeheartedly recommend Central Indiana Orthopedics, Dr. Kay and his team, and I sing their praises every chance I get.”