Zimbelman goes half way around the world

By Buck Traxler, I-O Editor
   Two years ago Karlyn Zimbelman of Conrad began to have problems with her hip and was experiencing pain. This past April her pain was becoming more and more intense in her hip.
   A trip to her doctor and resulting X-rays showed her hip socket was just bone-on-bone. A follow up trip to see an orthopedic surgeon in Great Falls showed the same diagnosis.
   She had just become a candidate for a hip replacement.
   During a traditional hip replacement, which can last 1-3 hours, the surgeon makes an incision over the side to the hip through the muscles and removes the diseased bone tissue and cartilage from the joint, while leaving the healthy part of the joint intact.
   Then the surgeon replaces the head of the femur and acetabulum with new artificial parts. The new hip is made of materials that allow a natural gliding motion of the hip.
   Following this, Zimbelman read an article in AARP Magazine about a woman who had gone overseas, to New Delhi, India to be exact, for a hip replacement.
   More research by Zimbelman led her to Active Implants, an Israeli company that developed a new solution for hip replacement that, “mimics nature and promises patients with the long-term solution they are searching for,” says Stephen Bradshaw, CEO of the company.
   At the present, this hip implant is not FDA approved. However, it is available overseas and this was what Zimbelman chose for her operation. “I felt this was the best and least invasive for me,” she said.
   Arrangements were made for her daughter Tonya Sanders, who lives in Missoula, to go to India with her. Their journey began on June 15, flying to Minneapolis and on to New Jersey and then to Amsterdam the next day. After a six hour  layover there, they flew on to New Delhi.
   She and her daughter arrived in New Delhi at 11 p.m. It was after midnight by the time they cleared customs and exchanged their   money for rupees, the Indian currency.
   They were met by a representative of the host company who helped arrange the trip and taken to a guest house in a walled-gated community where they would be staying. They also had a car and driver at their disposal.
   Zimbelman noted she also felt fortunate to have a family friend, Cassie Emand, who is a missionary in Nepal that was able to come and be with her while she was in New Delhi.
   On June 19, she went to the hospital to take care of paper work. “It was a modern, very clean, high security place,” she recalled, “with two guards at the front entrance.” In addition, there were guards on every floor and even when you left your room, they would come and lock your door.
   She recalled that while she was there, she met an orthopedic surgeon from Nigeria who was in New Delhi for a knee replacement and a truck driver from Texas who was there for a triple-by-pass heart operation who has stopped in Conrad while trucking up and down the road.
   Her operation took place on June 20 and lasted for three hours. After her surgery, in the recovery room, “I was fed a cucumber and tomato sandwich and a cup of tea.”
   Zimbelman spent six days in the hospital for PT rehab and then returned to her guest house for another week.
   While in India she was able to make a side trip to the Taj Mahal, which is actually a mausoleum built in the memory of a Shahs’ favorite wife. Made of white marble, the building began construction in 1632 and was completed in 1653.
   She noted that a lot of corn is grown there and oil tankers are in abundance. It was also, “really, really hot, well over 100 degrees every day.”  There are a lot of high rise buildings under construction, and everyone, has a cell phone, she chuckled.
   On July 2, she had her surgical staples removed for her trip back to Conrad. She had progressed from a walker for assistance to a cane.
   Zimbelman said she found the people of India to be, “really beautiful people inside and out, but I’m glad to be back. It was a wonderful experience planned by God who was with me every step of the way.”
   Without insurance, the type of operation Zimbelman had, with variables, could cost between $40,000 and $56,000.
   Her operation, hospital stay, follow-up visit, rehab, guest house, incidentals and round trip flight cost her $16,500.
Tuesday evening she was walking across the swimming pool park at NNO to see the K-9 demonstration with only the slightest of a limp.
   Asked how she was doing, a wide grin without a word spoke volumes.