When Jason Cox was 18, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
“It’s something that you don’t ever get used to—having to let your body tell you what you can and can’t do,” he said. “It was a hard pill to swallow.”
While healing from an ankle fusion in 2016, Jason’s arthritis flared up in his knees. Suddenly, he was unable to stand up straight. As a result, he was in a wheelchair for four years.
Jason’s reduced mobility took a toll on his quality of life. It was especially hard to miss out on all his favorite parts of being a father.
“Giving me that little piece of my life back—I will always be grateful for that. Walking out of that hospital, being able to be a dad again? I appreciate every step that I take.” – Jason Cox, Knee Surgery
“I was tired of having to stop where the sidewalk ends. Watching my kids’ games through a car windshield,” he said. “Not being able to be that cheering parent on the sideline, and knowing that if my kid looked over, their dad’s not gonna be there. Their dad is in the car because he can’t walk.”
But he was determined to start walking again—no matter what it took.
“I had the goal of, ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to get out of the chair,’” Jason said. “I didn’t know if my body and my disease was going to allow that.”
In his search for relief from his debilitating knee pain, Jason met orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Martin. Dr. Martin was impressed with Jason’s determination, especially after learning that he had already undergone 14 operations to address his rheumatoid arthritis.
“How did you feel about the prospect of further surgery?” Dr. Martin asked him.
“It gets overwhelming,” Jason admitted. “When you have one, the arthritis moves to another joint and destroys it. And then you have to have that surgically fixed, and then after that, it’ll go on to the next joint. It’s just a relentless disease.”
A potential complication of surgery was that Jason would have to temporarily halt the use of his arthritis medication, which would leave him susceptible to infection. Because of this, Dr. Martin knew he needed to perform Jason’s surgery at Arkansas Surgical Hospital, where the rate of infection is less than 0.3%—considerably lower than the national average of 3%.
Dr. Martin also chose Arkansas Surgical Hospital because of its dedication to one-on-one care. “The nurses have the time and the dedication to go and just work with you, and they work with joint replacement patients every day,” he explained to Jason. “I knew you’d be in good hands there because of the care you’re gonna get from a specialized team of nurses and therapists and operating room staff.”
Jason was inspired by Dr. Martin, saying that his optimism put a smile on his face and gave him hope that he could get his life back. Dr. Martin believes that if Jason had not had the surgery, he would still be in a wheelchair. But now, thanks to Dr. Martin and the staff at Arkansas Surgical Hospital, Jason is able to walk again.
“As a patient that’s had 15 surgeries, Arkansas Surgical Hospital was different in the fact that you could tell when you were there you weren’t just a number,” Jason said about his experience. “They made you feel like, ‘We got you. We’re gonna take care of you.’”
“Giving me that little piece of my life back—I will always be grateful for that,” Jason told Dr. Martin. “Walking out of that hospital, being able to be a dad again? I appreciate every step that I take.”
As for Jason’s sons? They think it’s “really awesome” that their dad can finally come watch their games in person.
“The disease and the physical limitation kept me from being the dad I wanted to be, and now, nothing’s going to stop me from being the dad I want to be,” Jason said.
If you’re experiencing joint pain, don’t wait. Call our Referral Help Line at (800) 901-0307 for help scheduling an appointment with one of Arkansas Surgical Hospital’s skilled orthopedic surgeons.