Most patients meet their surgeons after being referred to them by their primary care doctors. Optometrist Tony Weber, OD, played in a band with his. Dr. Weber and Orthopedic Surgeon Peter Bonutti, MD, FACS, FAAOS, FAANA, were introduced years ago by a mutual friend.
“My friend told me that I needed to meet Dr. Bonutti. He said that Dr. Bonutti was an awesome guy who’s a lot like me: fired-up and high-strung!” Dr. Weber recalled. “I said, ‘Cool! Let’s make it happen.’ So, we met and became friends.” That was in the 1990s.
FRICTION, the band Dr. Weber has played percussion in since he was a teen, has been a central part of his life since the 1980s. Members of the band invited Dr. Bonutti to bring his guitar over to Dr. Weber’s home and “jam”. They had a great time. The jam sessions went from regular occurrences at Dr. Weber’s home to playing gigs together. FRICTION performed at venues all around Central Illinois, sometimes opening for national touring artists such as 38 Special.
Around the same time, Dr. Weber started having knee pain from a 2005 accident in which he fractured his tibia. Multiple screws were placed to keep his knee together.
“The pain started to affect my golf swing, little by little. I had to adjust my swing because my knee started to bend inward. Dr. Bonutti noticed, and he told me to call him when the pain became unbearable. In August 2019, I finally ‘cried uncle’ and texted him,” Dr. Weber said.
The 61-year-old’s knee was bone-on-bone because the meniscus had worn down. Dr. Bonutti told his friend that he would need two surgeries: one to remove the old screws from his knee and another to replace his knee, a couple of months later.
Dr. Bonutti removed Dr. Weber’s hardware in January 2020. Dr. Weber could move around, but any strenuous activity was out of the question. Friends asked him to play golf, but he reminded them that if he swung, he would fall over. Staff at the SBL Bonutti Clinic gave Dr. Weber a bottle containing the screws that they had removed from his knee— a little memorial of times gone by!
“The hardware looked shiny, almost as if I could take the screws out and use them on a cabinet. I decided to keep them on my shelf as a conversation piece,” Dr. Weber joked.
His second surgery was scheduled for March 17, 2020, the day most of the United States closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Weber’s surgery, like so many things, had to wait.
“I was fine, except I didn’t have any flexibility. The two plates in my knee that were keeping everything stable had been removed. I felt wiggly and wobbly,” he explained.
By June 2020, COVID-19 cases had declined enough for the SBL Surgery Center to reopen. Dr. Bonutti replaced Dr. Weber’s knee, to his almost immediate relief!
“On the first day after the knee replacement, I thought “Is this supposed to hurt? Because it doesn’t,’” Dr. Weber said.
He took off seven days of work from his optometry practice, Weber Optiks, which has locations in Altamont, Effingham and Mattoon. With the help of physical therapy and strong willpower, Dr. Weber was walking around the office seeing patients in no time.
Dr. Weber loves to garden, play music, follow his grandkids to their activities, and attend collegiate sporting events at Indiana University. He has returned to his favorite activities pain-free.
Additionally, Dr. Weber and his wife, Patricia, have renovated nearly everything in their historic home, one that is recognized by the National Road Association of America. A plaque outside of their house denotes the location as one of the distinguished stops on the Route 40 historic trail.
“My knee no longer swells like a cantaloupe when I garden or bend down for long periods of time. Dr. Bonutti did a great job on my knee. I’m as happy as I could be,” Dr. Weber insisted.
For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Bonutti or any of the orthopedic surgeons at the SBL Bonutti Clinic, call 217 342-3400. Construction of the new SBL Bonutti Clinic is set to be complete in Summer 2022.