Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
Vernon and Myra Maxwell have been riding horses for most of their lives. However, it wasn’t until the age of 50 that they both decided to pick up barrel racing, something their children had long been doing competitively.
The couple, who reside on their farm in Iron Station, met through their shared love of riding as teens growing up in Gaston County.
Eventually they married and started a family, which, in addition to two daughters and a son, grew to include several horses.
Their daughters picked up barrel racing and began competing, with one even winning a world championship.
After years of sitting on the sidelines, the couple decided not to let their age stop them from embarking on a new hobby.
“I got tired of being the water boy,” Vernon Maxwell joked.
Soon, Vernon and Myra were competing and winning titles of their own at both the state and national levels. With grandchildren also now racing, the sport became a shared passion spanning three generations.
However, previous injuries and arthritis started to take their toll, and the Maxwells were forced to quit their hobby due to knee pain.
They decided to look into knee-replacement surgery, turning to Dr. Ted Parcel, an orthopaedic surgeon with Carolinas Medical Center-Lincoln.
Vernon Maxwell said his knees had been bothering him for quite some time. When he first went to see Parcel a few years ago, he was advised that a total knee replacement would be necessary.
He had both his left and then his right knee replaced in staged surgeries. Two years out, he described the work done by Parcel as “top notch,” noting that he’s had very little pain.
“I think the world of him,” Maxwell said of Parcel.
Myra, who is only six weeks out from surgery on her right knee yet already back in the saddle, echoed her husband’s sentiments in praising Parcel.
“He’s a real asset for Lincoln County,” she said.
Parcel, who chairs the orthopaedic program at CMC-Lincoln, is considered a hip and knee expert and is a fellowship-trained surgeon.
The hospital recently became one of only 13 programs in the state to receive the “Gold Seal of Approval” from The Joint Commission for its hip and knee care.
To earn certification, CMC-Lincoln underwent a rigorous on-site review. A Joint Commission expert evaluated the hospital’s program for compliance with standards of care specific to the needs of patients and families, including infection prevention and control, leadership and medication management.
As a certified program, CMC-Lincoln’s orthopaedic program must demonstrate effective use of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines to manage care, measure results and improve outcomes for hip and knee patients.
“Our goal is to help our patients return to the activities they love,” said Parcel. “We feel our team at CMC-Lincoln does that exceptionally well by focusing on clinical excellence, patient education and customer service. With that formula, we will always serve our patients well.”
The hospital offers free informational seminars to educate prospective patients on what to expect before and after surgery. The classes are held on the first Monday of every month at 5 p.m. and on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 11 a.m. in the third-floor conference room at CMC-Lincoln.
As one of the only certified programs in the area, Parcel said his patients come from far and wide for his expertise.
“I have had patients come to see me from as far as Liberty and Pawleys Island, S.C.,” he noted. “I also have plenty from Hickory and Gastonia.”
“My goal is to create CMC-Lincoln as a busy hip and knee center so residents of Lincoln County and surrounding areas can have excellent joint-replacement care close to home,” he said. “They no longer need to go to Charlotte or other surrounding areas.”
While Parcel operates on people of all ages — having recently replaced both hips on a 90-year-old patient — he said recovery time varies, based in large amount on a person’s expectations.
For the Maxwells, recovery has been speedy.
Last May, they celebrated their 50th anniversary in Hawaii with a trip that included hiking and zip-lining. Vernon has also been on a mission trip to the Philippines, with plans to soon return.
He also continues to work on their farm.
Myra, who will turn 70 in June, already plans to compete next month despite having surgery only weeks ago.
“We can do anything we want to,” Myra said.