How Orchid Changed My Life

Cari Rutkoskie, friend and business partner who has been a communications consultant for Orchid for almost five years, shares her hip replacement story. Cari has worked closely with employees and leaders across the organization, sharing our stories and fostering connections with people. When she learned she needed hip replacement surgery, Cari was excited to share her journey with the teams and people she had gotten to know at Orchid.

Today I'm not writing to talk about communications at Orchid (although it is one of my favorite things to talk about). Instead, I'd like to share a very personal story with you. It begins in the summer of 2022. That summer while walking my dog on the beach, my right leg slipped when climbing over a wet log. I felt a sharp pain in my hip, but the pain wasn't bad enough to keep me from finishing my walk.

About a month later, I was walking down a flight of steps on my deck during a torrential downpour. My right foot slipped on a wet step, my legs flew out from under me, and I landed on my back. Although my back hurt (and I had a huge bruise to show for it!), my right hip hurt even more. The bruise on my back went away eventually, but the pain in my hip did not. Fortunately, it was only about a level 3 pain when going up and down steps or walking on an incline on my treadmill.

In October 2022, during my annual physical, I mentioned the hip pain to my doctor. She ordered an x-ray, and the x-ray showed that my hip was normal. She also referred me to an orthopedist, who referred me to a physical therapist (PT). I started physical therapy in January 2023. After 20 visits with the PT, my pain had increased to a level 8 at all times, and I had developed a noticeable limp. I went back to my orthopedist, and he ordered an MRI in April 2023. That MRI showed a labral tear, a bone spur and high-grade cartilage loss. 

The orthopedist recommended seeing a surgeon, but I was resistant to that idea. You see, I had worked at Stryker for 25 years and knew too much about hip implants. So instead of seeing a surgeon, I decided to see another PT. 

I worked with my new PT from May to August 2023. Although he managed to get my pain under control, my limp was getting worse. My PT told me that I was at risk of injuring my back, left hip or knees if I continued to walk with a limp. So reluctantly I decided it was time to see an orthopedic surgeon.

I ended up seeing three different surgeons. Two were recommended by my friends at Stryker, and the third was Dr. David Christ at Bronson in Kalamazoo. All three surgeons took x-rays, and all three confirmed that I had no cartilage in my right hip, which was causing my pain and limp.

How did I lose all the cartilage in my hip in 10 months? I never got an answer to that question - it's impossible to know, and it is unusual for it to happen. However, Dr. Christ took so much time to help me understand what was happening to my hip and how he could fix it.  He logged into a database called MARCQI, one of the largest total hip implant case databases in the country, and pulled up the performance data on each of the hip implants to decide which one would be the best one for me. 

My original surgery date was April 15, 2024 - a long time to wait! In December 2023, I got a call from the surgery scheduler saying Dr. Christ had a cancelation for December 28, 2023, and he wanted me to have it. My hip had deteriorated so quickly, he was worried about it getting worse and making the surgery more difficult.

On the day of my surgery, my husband and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. I was in the OR for about 90 minutes, and the hip replacement itself took just 45 minutes. This is what happens when you have an awesome surgeon and implant! I chose to have a spinal epidural and Propofol, or “twilight sleep,” instead of a general anesthetic. I woke up in the OR after the surgery was complete, and my PACU nurse told me I could go home as soon as the epidural wore off and I could walk, use the bathroom, and go up and down stairs. When I was ready, she put the walker in front of me, and I stood up.


I felt absolutely no pain in my right hip (other than the surgical incision, which was quite tender) for the first time in 1.5 years. 

It felt like a miracle. I walked down the hall using a walker, went up and down a short set of stairs, and was home by 12:30 p.m. the day of my surgery. When I got home, I was able to go up the stairs using a cane and lay in my own bed. And that same day, I started the exercise sets Dr. Christ developed with one of his partners. I continued those exercise sets, plus elevating and icing, for 12 hours a day for the next two weeks.

So how am I doing now? Dr. Christ released me to my regular activities about eight weeks after my surgery. I work out for about an hour a day now - 10 minutes on my stationary bike, 10 minutes on my treadmill, and 30-45 minutes of yoga or pilates - with absolutely no pain in my hip. If I didn't have a four-inch scar on my leg, I would not be able to tell I had my hip replaced. It feels like the cartilage and bone I used to have before my two falls in 2022.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, I can't wait to get back to walking my dog on the beach - one of my favorite things to do. My sweet chocolate lab, Maximum Danger (Maxx), tore her cranial cruciate ligament (CCL, similar to the human ACL) in the spring of 2023. She had her knee reconstructed on her 12th birthday - August 15, 2023. And now with the new hip I got on December 28, the two of us are looking forward to hunting beach glass (me) and sniffing all the things (Maxx) without any pain.

Before you go, I want to thank you and everyone at Orchid for what you do every day. I couldn't walk and live my life without pain if not for the implants you make. Your dedication to quality has produced the top-performing implant, and I am so fortunate and blessed to have one of them. I am so grateful to all of you. Thank you for what you do every day - you truly are helping people like me live a longer, active life. 

Cari Rutkoskie
Cari Rutkoskie

Cari has over 30 years of brand and communications experience, with special expertise in executive and organizational communications and employer branding. She is driven to produce results, and her successes include creating and leading a communications function for several companies and propelling a leading medical technology company from #80 to #11 on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list and #10 on Fortune’s World’s Best Companies to Work For list.

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