Let’s start by saying that Randy Lierman has always been an athlete. Maybe not a professional athlete, but when he was young he participated in nearly every sport available to him, including baseball and basketball, and he played four years of varsity football at the University of Missouri, Kirksville (now Truman State University), eventually becoming Captain of the team.
He began his career in finance with the same energy that he brought to his athletics. He lived and worked in New York and London, and travelled up to 250 days a year. Over time, however, his ability to move became difficult and he learned to live in constant pain. “The hardest thing was getting in and out of cabs. My knees simply wouldn’t bend! When you’re working in big cities like New York, cabs are an everyday necessity.”
Lierman saw a doctor and had knee surgery to repair cartilage. Then he had another. And another. “I was always either needing surgery, having surgery, or recovering from surgery,” says Lierman. Throughout his struggle with knee problems, he tried to maintain a healthy level of activity that included weightlifting to build and maintain strength. “The good news and the bad news is that I developed a pretty high tolerance for pain,” notes Lierman. “Finally, my quality of life and ability to do the things I wanted to do led me to find a better, more permanent solution.”
A friend referred Lierman to Dr. Paul Lux, a Washington University orthopedic surgeon specializing in total joint replacement at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. Dr. Lux diagnosed Lierman with severe degenerative arthritis in both knees due to repeated injury and cartilage loss and recommended total knee replacement surgery on both knees. Lierman decided to have the surgeries performed at the same time, at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, rather than doing one joint replacement surgery and then coming back at a later time for the other.
“I knew that having as much strength as possible was going to be an important part of my recovery,” says Lierman. Over the next several weeks, he began physical therapy in preparation for the bi-lateral surgery.
“I always tell patients that I will do 5 percent of the work and they will need to do the other 95 percent to have the best possible outcome,” says Dr. Lux. Being fully prepared and educated about total joint replacement is critical to a patient’s ability to have a successful outcome and return to full activity.”
“I was most impressed with Dr. Lux’s insistence that I was fully educated about the techniques and advanced technology available to patients today who will benefit from a total joint replacement. I feel like he spent most of his time with me before the surgery making sure I was fully prepared for the procedures and ready to tackle my recovery.”
It would be an understatement to say that Lierman had successful surgeries and a full recovery. Within the first year of his surgery, Lierman ran in his first half-marathon. “I was never really a runner, although I played competitive sports. It wasn’t until my knees were strong again and I was pain free that I thought I’d give it a try.”
Since then, he’s kept running. Over the last 5 years, Lierman has completed five full marathons, 15 half-marathons and dozens of 10k and 5k runs. He fell in love with the feeling of endurance long distance running produces, and the camaraderie with fellow runners. “Unlike team sports where you compete against other players, in running you compete with yourself. Your fellow runners are your teammates and everyone is very supportive.”
In fact, it was on his way to a marathon that he ran into Dr. Lux on an airplane in 2015. Lierman had just completed a 10k run in Kansas City, Missouri, and had boarded a plane on his way to participate in the Chicago marathon. Dr. Lux happened to be on the same plane headed to Chicago so he could run in the same event. When Lierman saw Dr. Lux, he immediately recognized him, even though it had been close to three years since his joint replacement surgery. When they discovered that they were going to the same place for the same reason, Dr. Lux could hardly believe it.
“This guy had both knees done, he’s older than me and he’s running in a marathon!” said Lux. “What’s really funny is that he ended up beating my time by more than an hour! I know I should be happy for him but that was hard,” joked Lux.
Since then, Lierman has kept running. He currently runs about 5 days each week and enjoys cycling on a regular basis. He also continues to work with weights to keep up his bone strength and muscle tone.
“It is by no means necessary to go out do the things I have done, to have a successful recovery, it shows what is possible when you have total joint replacements. The trick is to get all the information you can, talk to a knowledgeable doctor and don’t be afraid of total joint surgery if you need it. The technology has come a long way in the last decade, and if you commit to recovery and follow the guidance of the team at Washington University Orthopedics and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, you will have a great experience. It is amazing to do the things I want to do without pain. They gave me my life back,” says Lierman.
The Washington University Orthopedics’ Total Joint Program is located at both Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. Prior to surgery, patients attend a Total Joint Replacement Class with their ‘Joint Coach’, who will be caring for them after their joint replacement operation, to help provide everyone involved in the surgical experience with all the tools and education that they need to have a great outcome. The program has continued to grow over the last several years, and is proud to have thousands of patients who have found a new lease on life after undergoing total joint replacement surgery.
Barnes-Jewish, along with our Washington University orthopedic physician partners, have designed a patient guide to prepare you on what to expect before, during and after your joint replacement. To download, visit https://www.barnesjewishwestcounty.org/Portals/0/JourneyGuide2017-BJWCH.pdf
If you or a loved one is interested to taking the first step to living a healthier lifestyle with a new hip or knee, please call 314-514-3500 or request an appointment online.
Physicians who have patients that could benefit from a hip or knee replacement can fax patient demographics to 314-878-7678 or call 314-514-3500. A Washington University School of Medicine referral coordinator will contact the physician regarding next steps.