Gerry Ruffenach has been active throughout his entire life. As the sixth sibling in a family of 10 who grew up within Drexel Hill, he started playing catch-up. At the Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield in the state of Massachusetts, he was an all-season player, playing basketball, football as well as baseball. Later, he managed to get into 10-15 decades’ worth of banging about on the field for rugby. He was also a surfer and swimmer and spent his time on the lifeguard’s stand.
Ruffenach continued his studies after graduating from high school. The first step was education at RETS Electronics School started a career of 22 years in telecommunications, which saw him traveling around the United States while working for other companies and at one point running his own business. In the past 10 years, the entrepreneur earned an undergraduate qualification in the administration of business at Eastern University and made the transition to selling medical devices used for open-heart surgery.
There was nothing stopping this energetic husband dad and grandfather who is now his mid-50’slocated near West Chester until health issues surfaced.
Around eight years ago, the patient began experiencing hip pain that grew until he needed the total replacement of his hip. Recovery from the surgery was not easy enough and then he was forced to go through the same process thirteen months later after the new device for his hip failed.
At the same time, his right shoulder started to be bothering him. The hospital in which he underwent the hip operation was a large institution with a high volume of patients and was able to start on cortisone shots. And for the time being, they were enough.
“At the beginning, it wasn’t a major issue,” he recalls. “With the cortisone, I was able to manage it, but I was unable to perform as well.”
These shots continued over four more years with declining returns.
“The shots become less effective as time passes,” Ruffenach notes, and for him, the pain got worse. “I was unable to lie in bed and rest for more than two hours. I was unable to raise my arms above my head. I was unable to carry my granddaughter. The pain was excruciating.”
A while ago it was during the time of orthoscopic surgery on his shoulder to eliminate calcification-related debris, with the hope that his full motion would be returned. The surgery didn’t work, however, and the pain came back a year after.
Equally painful was the consequence of limitations for an athlete who had passed his passion for sports to his kids.
“I’m an enormous surfer, a huge swimmer. I couldn’t even raise my shoulder when I was swimming,” he said. “More crucially, over the last couple of years, I was not being able to throw a baseball to my son who is a skilled baseball player.” Being unable to play a catch that was simple for his child, who is currently in Division 2 Baseball at college, was extremely upsetting for him and motivated him to move on to get his shoulder pain alleviated.
In his line of work that sells products for medical use, he has the opportunity to meet several surgical product reps of different specialties. They become acquainted with surgeons. He knew that he did not wish to return to where he was when he had his hip replaced. So, on his business trip to Philadelphia, He contacted an orthopedic specialist for advice concerning shoulder surgery. The first question the orthopedic rep asked consisted “Where is your home?” When Ruffenach informed him of West Chester, his advice was “If I were in the same proximity close to Chester County Hospital, I would visit Dr. Adrienne Towsen.”
In the wake of long journeys to the city to visit his family members during the hip operation, Ruffenach arranged a visit to Doctor. Towsen. From the beginning, Ruffenach stated, “I was totally impressed by her.”
As a sales rep, Ruffenach claims he’s encountered many off-putting people in the medical profession. However, that wasn’t the case with Dr. Towsen. She was friendly, kind, and professional.
“I was simply impressed by how she took the time to guide me about the whole procedure,” he recalls. “Her attitude, professionalism, her ability to communicate, and the way she established reasonable expectations regarding recovery.”
The initial meeting was for approximately 45 minutes. Dr. Towsen was able to confirm the issues the next day and he knew Ruffenach was scheduled to have surgery at Chester County Hospital. In his own words, he said his words, “Two weeks later I was under the surgical knife.”
The procedure could not be smoother and was a different experience from what he experienced with his earlier hip replacement.
“My wife and I went there to Chester County Hospital early, and everything was ready,” he said. “You are checked into the hospital, and the personnel was great.”
He recalls: “The doctor came in and talked to me about my condition, the anesthesiologist arrived and explained to me what I should be expecting, and then we began. The next thing I knew I awoke, to find my shoulder healed.”
Ruffenach was in the hospital for three days at Chester County Hospital and was amazed.
“The new wing that’s been built in Lasko Tower is spectacular,” He says. “It’s beautiful, it’s clean. The nurses, and in fact everyone else is lovely. The visit to my family was a breeze. Even the food was delicious.” And, most importantly, he says, “The recovery has been fantastic.”
Although he was required to keep his shoulder immobilized for a while, Ruffenach was ready to return to a more active lifestyle. The procedure was performed in the spring and Ruffenach was determined to be swimming by the close of August. He was in the water at the beginning of September. The family was able to celebrate in a fitting way.
“This season, in winter I brought 11 people, which included my children, their parents, and granddaughter for a visit to St. Thomas,” he told me. “I could take a dip in the ocean, and carry my daughter on my shoulders. It felt great.”
He has his active life was in for many years.
“It’s quite amazing, beautiful liberating,” he said. “It allows you to enjoy your family more, and also the things that you previously took for taken for granted.”
He’s not sporting the shoulder of a three-sport high school athlete however, his days of suffering from discomfort and limited mobility are over.
“I can complete a full rotation of my shoulder,” he states. “I don’t have 100 % strength but I’m able to rotate my shoulder the same way as you are able to.”
And perhaps the most important?
“I am able to throw a ball to my son without discomfort.”