Knoxville Firefighter Finds Fix To Extinguish Knee Issues

A firefighter for 23 years, Shawn Langley came to Fort Sanders Regional to have knee replacement surgery in hopes of returning to the job he loves. Ever since middle school, Shawn Langley wanted to be a firefighter. At 46, he has battled blazes with various units, including the City of Knoxville Fire Department, for a total of 23 years.
“It’s just helping people,” Langley said. “You never want somebody’s house to be on fire, but if it is, I want to be the first one there to help them.”
These days, however, it’s other Knoxville firefighters who are helping Langley. He had his right knee replaced at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center on Feb. 3, and Langley’s coworkers have been there to help.
“They’ve been there with my family through this,” Langley said. “Somebody takes me to physical therapy or meets me there. Firefighters have a special bond that people just don’t realize. The brotherhood is unbelievable; it’s a second family.”
Langley’s right knee was injured 10 years ago in an apartment house fire off Lonas Road.
“I had a three-story brick wall collapse on me. I don’t remember a whole lot of it,” he said. “I have been battling this (knee injury) since then. I’ve had five other knee surgeries, just trying to prolong the replacement.”
Langley said he might have had the replacement surgery earlier, except that his wife, Lisa Ann, developed breast cancer in 2010. She died in 2011. “That played a lot into it,” he said. “I had planned on doing it before she got sick. But God had a different plan and direction for us.”
Dr. Michael T. Casey, orthopedic surgeon at Fort Sanders Regional, has been Langley’s physician for several years and cleaned out the torn cartilage several times with arthroscopic procedures.
Last fall, Langley decided to undergo a complete knee replacement.
“It was just time,” said Langley. “With everything that has happened with my wife, I just realized you have to live for today. Dr. Casey and I had been prolonging it, and we had a long talk, and it was just time.
“He said I’m the one to make the decision. He told me all the pros and cons. Dr. Casey is tremendous. There’s not a better doctor than him. I did a lot of praying, and a lot of things just fell into place, and I realized it was just time.
“Before I changed my mind, he fit me in,” Langley said with a laugh. He stayed at Fort Sanders for three days after his surgery.
“My care at Fort Sanders was extraordinary. It was just as good as gold! I was never uncomfortable. Everybody was well trained and it wasn’t hard at all. They had me up within 15 to 20 minutes of being in the room.
“I had two physical therapists who were phenomenal. All the nurses and therapists were all just extraordinary.
“And Dr. Casey was phenomenal. He laid everything out how it was going to go. He’s got the best bedside manner of any doctor around. He doesn’t sugar coat it. He tells you upfront, this is how it’s going to be. He’s just very honest (and) open in explaining everything.”
Today, Langley is still attending physical therapy at Fort Sanders three times each week, gaining strength and flexibility. “It’s just going to take me a little time because there’s muscles I’ve not used for 10 years. I have walked with a limp all this time, but I’m not limping anymore. They say I’m above where I’m supposed to be,” he said.
His goal is to get back to work.
“If I don’t get back on the fire truck, it won’t be because I don’t do my part. I’ve got the best job in the world. I’ve always known that and never veered from it. I’ve never done anything else,” said Langley.
“I just thank Fort Sanders. I am very, very appreciative. I was very nervous going in to this, but they made it very easy.”

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