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Patient Stories


My entire experience was impressive. The people were friendly and caring. The mammographer was exceptional – very professional, understanding, and she answered all my questions.”

– Patient Mary Jo Swartz

When Mary Jo Swartz moved to Spirit Lake from South Bend, Indiana, population 102,000, she was nervous about finding high quality, technologically advanced healthcare. She had, after all, worked at a large health system and was used to having the best and newest at her fingertips. So when she had a mammogram in Indiana and was told she needed to have a follow-up, she worried a bit.

Her worries quickly subsided once she heard that Lakes Regional Healthcare had purchased the newest in 3D mammography technology, offering images that are four times clearer than 3D mammography systems available even a year earlier. She was even less worried – happy, in fact – when she walked through the doors of the hospital and was met with friendly, knowledgeable people throughout her visit. “My entire experience was impressive. The people were friendly and caring. The mammographer was exceptional – very professional, understanding, and she answered all my questions,” she said. “Coming from out of state, I was relieved to find a facility with the high standards of care I was used to.”

Mammography

It has been a lifesaver for me. It’s just amazing what it can do with a less invasive process. You’re able to get back to your daily life whether that’s biking, running, or swimming, or whatever you do. It’s been an amazing process for me.”

– Patient Abby Goodlaxson

For those who know Milford resident and Okoboji High School Physical Education Instructor Abby Goodlaxson, she is full of energy and always on the go. Whether it’s working with her students, getting together with friends, or going for a bike ride, she is always up to something. However, she’s done so despite having near chronic pain due to an ACL injury as a high school student in 1994.

She said, “I like to bike, do yoga, run, swim. But it’s been difficult ever since my ACL injury. Over the years I’ve had two scope surgeries to basically clean up the mess in my knee, but they didn’t ultimately prevent the popping and clicking in my knees and the feeling of tightness and pain that could linger even throughout the night,” she said. “The last scope was done two years ago and was meant to prepare me for a partial or total knee replacement surgery. It, unfortunately, didn’t help much, and I had to cut activities. I stopped running, and that was the worst thing I had to give up.”

Goodlaxson decided to go ahead with a partial knee replacement surgery after two physical therapists she works out with gave her literature about Lakes Regional Healthcare’s robotic orthopedic surgery system. She met with John Leupold, M.D. and liked that robotic orthopedic surgery is less invasive and has a shorter recovery time.

Goodlaxson said, “After surgery, I had intense pain for the first three to four days, but it was actually less painful than after I had my scope surgeries. Plus, I was up walking around an hour and a half after surgery, which was amazing,” said Goodlaxson. “I stayed overnight in the hospital for one night, and walked the halls a lot that night. I was definitely surprised by having less pain.”

Only eleven weeks after surgery, she said the pain was gone and she only felt soreness, which disappeared a few weeks later. In less than three months after surgery, she was back to swimming, going to exercise classes, and biking. She said, “It has been a lifesaver for me. It’s just amazing what it can do with a less invasive process. You’re able to get back to your daily life whether that’s biking, running, or swimming, or whatever you do. It’s been an amazing process for me.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT ORTHOPEDICS
John Leupold, MD

But in the end, dreading the surgery is worse than actually doing the surgery. It really wasn’t bad at all, maybe five days of being uncomfortable. It was totally worth it – thank you to everyone at LRH!”

– Patient Annette Kalkhoff

Walking has been a big part of Spirit Lake resident Annette Kalkhoff’s life. She loves to walk with her grandchildren and walks three to four miles outside every evening, year round, with her husband, Dr. Tom Kalkhoff. However, over the last couple of years her ability to walk decreased tremendously. She said, “A few years ago when I was still teaching full-time, I caught my foot on the side of a student’s desk and thought I’d pulled a muscle in my groin area. That’s when I started to have pain that made it difficult for me to walk as much.”

Kalkhoff knew what steps to take to relieve her pain – ice, ibuprofen, rest. Despite her efforts, she eventually was only able to walk a bit over one mile each day. At that point she began physical therapy, followed by an appointment with Dr. Chris Rierson at Northwest Iowa Bone, Joint & Sports Surgeons. “He took a different x-ray view of my hip and told me I had bone spurs and needed a hip replacement. The first step was to try a steroid injection hoping to reduce my pain and delay the need for surgery. Unfortunately, what could have given me three to six months of pain relief lasted less than a week. When that failed, I was ready to have surgery because the pain was interfering with my ability to sleep at night,” she said.

Before surgery, Kalkhoff attended Lakes Regional Healthcare’s Joint Camp, a half-day orientation where upcoming joint surgery patients tour the facility, meet the care team, and learn what to expect the day of surgery and during the recovery process. “Joint Camp was awesome – we met nurses, physical therapists, an occupational therapist, and learned what was going to happen every step of the way. The staff asked us again and again if we had any questions, really putting us at ease. Plus those of us having surgery bonded a bit! It’s been fun to see them and other friends who have had the robotic hip surgery around town and hear about their experiences and how they’re handling the recovery process,” said Kalkhoff.

Dr. Rierson performed Kalkhoff’s total hip replacement surgery with the Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery system, which provided accurate alignment and placement of her implants. He said, “The system provides biomechanical data to guide the bone preparation and implant positioning to match the pre-surgical plan. After surgical exposure, I used the robotic arm to accurately ream and shape the acetabulum socket in the hip, and then implanted the cup at the correct depth and orientation. Then I implanted the femoral implant. The robotic procedure offers the confidence of more accurate cup placement and the ability to check leg lengths and make intra-operative adjustments to allow for optimal placement of the implants.”

Being able to have the hip replacement with the assistance of the Mako robot solidified her decision to have surgery at Lakes Regional Healthcare. Kalkhoff said, “I felt good going in and knew it’d be extremely accurate. You read online how people walk funny and still have issues after having hip surgery because one leg ends up longer than the other. I just knew I would have a much better outcome because of Dr. Rierson and his use of the Mako robot.”

Although she had high expectations going into surgery, Kalkhoff was even more amazed at the outcome after surgery. She said, “The original pain was gone immediately after surgery. My leg just felt really heavy. Therapy had me doing exercises right after surgery, which was a bit difficult, but beneficial. I spent one night in the hospital and only five days after surgery I was walking without the use of a walker or a cane. And I was off all medications two weeks after surgery with the exception of Ibuprofen.”

The most important thing to Kalkhoff, though, was getting back to walking. “At ten weeks post-op I walked two miles most days. My hip doesn’t hurt from walking at all. I need to increase my stamina, though, to be able to get back to our usual walks,” she said. “It’s been a process; you have to be diligent about doing your exercises and you have to retrain yourself how to walk correctly again after you’ve been compensating for the pain. But in the end, dreading the surgery is worse than actually doing the surgery. It really wasn’t bad at all, maybe five days of being uncomfortable. It was totally worth it – thank you to everyone at LRH!”

LEARN MORE ABOUT ORTHOPEDICS
Dr. Rierson Black Scrubs

Within the first week post-surgery, Sedlacek was walking one mile each day. He said, “When you lose the ability to do something as basic as walking and you get it back, it’s wonderful.”

– Dan Sedlacek

Patient Dan Sedlacek and wife with mountains in the background

Hiking up a glacier. Cheering on the Huskers from their stadium. Waterskiing. Climbing Machu Picchu. These are just a few of the items on Spirit Lake resident Dan Sedlacek’s bucket list. For six years, he had stabbing, bone on bone knee pain. Periodic steroid injections worked well for years, but eventually they didn’t last long. It was increasingly difficult to stand 10 to 12 hours a day as a retail pharmacist. Walking nearly a mile to the stadium to cheer on his beloved Huskers, and then climbing the stands changed his previously enjoyable experience. He said, “It really affected the quality of my life in a negative way.”

When Sedlacek and some friends went fishing in Alaska, an otherwise relaxing vacation was spent in pain, starting with the plane ride there. The most painful part of the trip was during a side trip to hike up a glacier. “It was so much fun but it hurt so badly. On my way back down I told my wife I am not going to do things like that anymore,” he said. “Later that night my friend Tim asked if that was right, that I wasn’t going to do that anymore and I said no, that’s absolutely wrong. I want to do more of it. That was my ‘a-ha’ moment, that I shouldn’t have to give up activities I love.”

Sedlacek made an appointment to see Dr. John Leupold at Northwest Iowa Bone, Joint and Sports Surgeons as soon as he returned to Iowa. Surgery for a partial knee replacement was scheduled and Sedlacek prepared for it by doing physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles that would aid in his recovery process. He said the day of surgery was as pleasant as it could be. “I had attended Lakes Regional Healthcare’s Joint Camp so I knew what to expect, and Dr. Leupold stopped and chatted with me as he walked through the waiting area. I didn’t feel like a stranger in a strange place. Everything was very well organized and professional. I felt like I was in very capable hands,” he said.

Sedlacek was amazed with his results. He walked as soon as he wasn’t groggy from anesthesia, almost immediately after surgery. “Joint pain is gradual and insidious. You learn to tolerate it as the pain increases. After surgery my joint pain was instantly gone. It was so nice. I had pain medication, but didn’t have to use much because of the physical therapy I’d had,” he said. “People don’t realize what’s at Lakes Regional Healthcare. They have great surgeons, the best equipment, the food was good, staff was friendly. I’ve been to Mayo and elsewhere and I’d put this experience up against those any day.”

Within the first week post-surgery, Sedlacek was walking one mile each day. He said, “When you lose the ability to do something as basic as walking and you get it back, it’s wonderful.”

Now Sedlacek is back to achieving his bucket list, and adding to it. He said, “Everyone I know who’s had joint replacement surgery say the same thing – I wished I’d done it years before. I completely agree. Don’t wait!”

Orthopedics
John Leupold, MD

“My surgery was absolutely life changing. Now I’m back to volunteering and keeping up with my grandchildren. I tell people considering knee replacement surgery to have it done sooner rather than later. It isn’t nearly as bad as everybody tells you, at least if it’s done robotically.”

– Donna Muhm

Patient Donna Muhm portrait

It’s hard to look forward to having a total knee replacement when your friends have told you the surgery and recovery can be quite painful. That’s what Spirit Lake resident Donna Muhm thought before she had both of her knees totally replaced last year. Fortunately, Donna did research of her own and learned robotic-assisted joint replacement surgeries resulted in less pain and even better outcomes than traditional “open” surgeries. She was even happier to learn orthopedic surgeons from Northwest Iowa Bone, Joint & Sports Surgeons performed robotically-assisted joint replacement surgeries right in Spirit Lake at Lakes Regional Healthcare. She said, “Dr. Rierson’s name came up right away. I couldn’t have been happier.”

Her results after surgery actually did make her happier. The first time Muhm got up to walk was the same day as her surgery. She then spent only two nights at the hospital before going home and having outpatient physical therapy appointments. “There’s no comparison to what my friends told me about their results to what I experienced,” said Muhm. “My friends who had surgery done non-robotically walked with a cane and walkers for weeks after surgery. I thought it was more comfortable and easier to walk without a cane, which I think is because of my therapists and the robotic surgery.”

Before surgery, Muhm was not able to do things she wanted. “I couldn’t participate fully in my volunteer work, which involves horses, and I couldn’t take my grandchildren on walks. I had to do a lot more sitting,” she said. “My surgery was absolutely life-changing. Now I’m back to volunteering and keeping up with my grandchildren. I tell people considering knee replacement surgery to have it done sooner rather than later. It isn’t nearly as bad as everybody tells you, at least if it’s done robotically.”

For more information about robotic surgery at Lakes Regional Healthcare, talk to your local health care provider or call 712-336-8768.

Orthopedics
Dr. Rierson Black Scrubs