The rural Battle Creek resident is a busy man and has been pretty much all of his 51 years.
He not only balances as many jobs as he can, but farms 350 acres and raises 70 head of cattle as a hobby.
He is so active, in fact, that he barely noticed when his knees slowly became damaged by osteoarthritis triggered initially during his days as a football player at Gull Lake High School in the 1970s, and were made worse by a straight-ahead active life in the years since.
“I was always working, always moving,” John said, “so the increased pain came on slowly and I really didn’t pay it much attention.
“I knew it was getting bad, though, when I realized that I had to walk backwards down stairs. I knew I’d had enough when I couldn’t lift my right knee.”
Although he was a little reluctant to undergo surgery, he opted to have both knees replaced with titanium and plastic implants by Thomas Ryan, MD, of Kalamazoo Orthopaedic Clinic.
Dr. Ryan put in state-of-the-art Stryker Corp. knee implants in John’s right knee in December 2007 and in his left knee in January 2008.
“I really didn’t know I was in that much pain until after the surgery,” John said. “But a couple of months after the last surgery I felt so good that I had to check to make sure my knees were still there.”
Dr. Ryan performed both surgeries at Borgess Medical Center, John’s favorite place for knee and any other medical care since his high school days. During those early football years John had eight “scope” knee surgeries, most on the right knee.
“All those injuries and surgeries, that’s when the arthritis started,” he said.
“I was somewhat of a kamikaze, I had no fear. The doctors told me to be careful but I wasn’t. It all caught up with me when I was 50.”
During those plunge-ahead years he married the former Pam Langs and the couple raised two children, Lindsey, now 22, and John, now 19. Lindsey, a Western Michigan University graduate, works for Pfizer Animal Health, and John, all 6-foot, 6-inches and 290 pounds of him, is a red-shirt freshman for Michigan State University’s football team.
John worked for Kalamazoo Mill Supply until it closed several years ago. The Deyos live near Yarrow Golf and Conference Resort northeast of Augusta and when the Yarrow staff heard that John had lost his job they asked him to work for them. He accepted.
John and Pam work long hours maintaining the farm, feeding the cattle and chopping wood to feed the stove that heats their house in winter. All that work put extra pressure on his knees and caused discomfort.
“When it was getting worse, I asked Dr. Ryan how I would know when I was ready for surgery. He told me to let the pain be my guide.”
As with all patients who undergo joint replacement surgery at Borgess, John participated in the Borgess Joint Replacement Program, commonly known as Joint Camp. “The staff members in Joint Camp are a great bunch of people,” John said. “I was young compared to many patients and I healed quickly.”
John said that he has nothing but praise for Borgess, from the people who admitted him to the nurses, doctors and other professional staff.
“Although the hospital has changed over all those years, the staff has always had a positive attitude,” he said. “I even enjoy the food. People complain about hospital food, but I thought it was very good.”
In the year after the second surgery, John has regained almost full function of both knees.
“I can climb a ladder now, or climb over a gate or a fence,” he said. “Pain? There isn’t any. If I kneel it does get your attention and I wish I could bend my knees a little more. But that’s my fault for not doing enough exercises.
“Otherwise, I’m a new man. I’ll admit I was a little reluctant to have the surgery, but if I had to have it done any place, Borgess is the place to have it done.”
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