Natalie

Natalie's Orthopedic Comeback Story

Before hip replacement surgery at Virginia Mason last year, Natalie Margolis was in so much pain she rarely wanted to walk anywhere. But today, Natalie is pain free and happy to leave her car behind. An active 71-year-old, she often walks or takes the bus wherever she needs to go.

Natalie and her husband of 51 years, Jerry, moved to Seattle a couple of years ago to be closer to a daughter who lives here and a son who lives in Portland. Natalie says that after living in a rural area of New York state, she was happy to move to a city where she wouldn't be dependent on a car.

Just after the move, however, the ache in Natalie's right hip got progressively worse. She visited a physician whose specialty was helping patients with problems walking and other activities. After examining Natalie, the physician suspected a serious problem with her hip and recommended she see an orthopedic specialist at Virginia Mason.

At Natalie's initial appointment in the fall of 2013, X-rays showed her hip joint had deteriorated to the point where bone was rubbing on bone every time she moved. This was causing the pain Natalie describes as being "like a knife in my hip." The doctor suggested a hip replacement, but before Natalie could be scheduled for surgery, she had another medical issue to address.

More than ten years ago, Natalie was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a cancer that affects the blood and immune system. A visit to her oncologist revealed that the disease, which had been in remission, was once again active. She couldn’t have surgery until the cancer was under control. So in November 2013, Natalie started a course of chemotherapy that lasted into January of the next year.

"Sometimes people just need someone who can understand things from their point of view"

After tests revealed the lymphoma was in remission, Natalie was able to have the hip replacement surgery in the spring of 2014. "I've had a lot of surgeries," says Natalie, "but this was the only one I've ever looked forward to. I was in so much pain."

In addition to the hip problem, Natalie was also experiencing pain in her right knee. During the hip replacement surgery, Natalie's physician administered a cortisone shot to her knee. She has had no pain in either the hip or the knee since.

As with most hip replacement patients, Natalie was up and walking the day after her surgery, and released from the hospital the day after that. She at first walked in the hallway of her apartment building, using a walker for three weeks then a cane for three weeks after that. Eventually, Natalie was walking outside unassisted and is today confident of walking anywhere on her own.

One of the reasons Natalie recovered so well from hip replacement surgery is that she closely followed her surgeon’s recommendation regarding exercise. "Every day, I could walk a little farther," says Natalie. "Today, I don't even know I have a hip. By that I mean, I don't think about it. I take it for granted that I can depend on it, and it's not going to be painful for me to go anywhere."

Because of her positive experience at Virginia Mason, Natalie is a volunteer with "Peer Partners" — a unique program where former patients visit current ones going through similar experiences. "Sometimes people just need someone who can understand things from their point of view," says Natalie. "I think that's what a Peer Partner does."

Natalie is a former executive director of a company in New York that serves children with special needs. Nowadays, she volunteers at a Seattle food bank, participates in a gym program and is signed up for a book club.

"It's wonderful to be able to get out and do things that I enjoy. If I hadn't had the surgery, I would still be trying to get around in pain. Since the surgery, I'm free to do what I want. I have Virginia Mason to thank for that and that's why I volunteer — not only to help the hospital but also to help others going through the same thing."

If you would like more information about Virginia Mason's joint replacement programs, call us at (206) 341-3000.