Portrait of a Grateful Patient
Alice Tiffin, 80, kept herself quite busy over the decades. Not much slowed down this energetic nurse, small business owner, mother of five and community volunteer.
As a Brownie, Girl-Scout and 4-H leader, Tiffin was a constant at trips, parades, county fairs and summer camps. She chaperoned at proms and graduations. With her husband of 62 years, Bill, she opened and ran a small ice cream parlor which provided work experience for their three younger daughters and other local high schoolers. She volunteered extensively in a variety of other venues – so much so she was awarded Santa Cruz’ “Woman of the Year” award for her community assistance after a major flood and she earned a write-up in the local newspaper and Lassen County’s coveted “Old Timer of the Year” award.
Then an injury threatened to bring the activity to a halt. A fall damaged a knee that had already been troubling her from a chicken attack earlier in her life.
A chicken attack?
“I was feeding the chickens when a rat jumped out of the feed,” Tiffin recalls. “We had an enormous white rooster who tried to attack the rat. He mistakenly got me by the leg – dug his spurs in both sides of my knee, hung on and beat me with his wings before I could get away.”
Those spurs can be up to two inches long, and they had managed to damage Alice’s kneecap. Years later and in constant pain – she had trouble walking, and couldn’t climb steps – Alice’s doctor referred her to UC Davis Health System’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. She saw Dr. Kenneth Trauner, who eventually performed a knee replacement procedure.
“He was absolutely wonderful, and it made such a difference in the activities in my life,” Tiffin says. “I asked if I had to have another one of these replacements in a few years, and he said, ‘Alice, it will probably out live you.’”
Ten years after the surgery, Alice and Bill made a donation to the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. “The care I received in Orthopaedic Surgery was wonderful,” she says. “Everyone at the hospital is sympathetic – they seem to have real feelings for the people they are working with. The attention to the follow-up care was just as detailed and caring. I feel like if I had more money, that’s where it would go.”