Age is just a number for Norius Crisan.

The 97-year-old Ada, Michigan, resident celebrated his most recent birthday in Key West, and he’s eagerly anticipating a local celebration with family when he turns 98 in February.

To stay mobile, he works out in a local gym three times a week.

Although he depends on a walker or a cane, his active lifestyle and energy make him the epitome of the word spry.

Crisan’s had his ups-and-downs, but he never let circumstances overwhelm him.

He flew a bomber in World War II, and spent 2 ½ years in Germany as a prisoner of war where his weight dropped from 162 to 92 pounds before he was released. Crisan was also wounded twice, once in the leg and another time in the face.

“I was too tough for them to get me down,” he said.

All in all, he spent 26 years flying for the Air Force during World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War.

At retirement, he settled in Las Vegas, living there even after his wife of 55 years passed away. Eventually, however, health issues led him to move in with his daughter, Sharon Humphries, in West Michigan.

Las Vegas remains one of his favorite destinations, and Crisan has his eye on winning the million-dollar bingo payout on an upcoming trip.

Swollen like a pumpkin

With a history of bullet wounds and a fractured back and neck, Crisan is no stranger to pain.

But when severe wrist pain in August woke him at 3 a.m., he knew it was more than his age-related arthritis acting up.

“It was real swollen, like a pumpkin, in the joints,” he said, rubbing his left wrist at the memory.

His daughter tried to make him an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, but they were scheduling months in advance.

Next she called Spectrum Health Orthopedic Urgent Care, which makes same-day appointments for patients with shoulder, knee, hand, wrist and elbow injuries, strains and sprains, ligament and tendon tears, broken bones and sports injuries.

Crisan’s diagnosis: advanced arthritis and pseudogout, a condition with the severe pain and swelling of gout, but with a different cause.

In layman’s terms, it’s “fake gout,” according to Tracy Smith, PA-C.

“He was debilitated because he has to use his hand on his cane,” Smith said. “We went ahead and gave him a steroid injection, and he felt fantastic immediately. He was as happy as can be.”

Smith also recommended a wrist support to allow the joint to heal.

Smith says she loves working in orthopedic urgent care because she can provide same-day care and quickly get patients on the road to recovery.

The office has onsite imaging as well as physical therapy and occupational therapy. If follow-up appointments are needed, the staff can arrange them. There’s no need for a referral from a primary care physician.

In Crisan’s case, it was the perfect solution. Less than six weeks after his visit, he went back at the gym.

Crisan, who has traveled around the world five times, can’t say enough about the quality of care he received in West Michigan. He especially enjoyed an impromptu conversation with orthopedic surgeon Peter Jebson, MD, a World War II buff who enjoyed hearing his Crisan’s stories.

“It was the best I’ve ever had in my life,” he said. “They really bent over backwards to help me out.”