Marlene's Story

Torrance Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group
Orthopedic Doctors
Physical, Hand & Aquatic Therapy

Two locations:

23456 Hawthorne Blvd.,
Suite 300
Torrance, CA 90505-4716

El Segundo

Phone: 310-316-6190
Fax: 310-540-7362

Marlene is a 56-year-old woman who underwent disc replacement and spinal fusion surgery, as well as hip replacement surgery. She was evaluated and operated on by James. M. Loddengaard, M.D. of Torrance Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group.

Marlene was kind enough to share the details about her experience. In a separate article, Dr. Loddengaard comments about Marlene's case and other types of hip and joint issues. Read on for the full story.

All parts of Marlene's story are anecdotal and not meant to be taken as medical advice. See a doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your health.

Tell us about your family and your lifestyle.
I have been pretty active most of my life and I am a registered nurse, which keeps me really busy. I live in Palos Verdes with my husband, who is also very active. We have two grown children and a 2-year-old granddaughter.

What physical activities are you most passionate about?
My husband and I travel a lot, and we love to golf together wherever we are. On trips we do a lot of adventurous stuff too, like bungee jumping, zip lining, and water sports. We'll hike and canoe and go fishing—we're hardly ever sitting down. In the summer we love to ride bikes right along the Strand from Palos Verdes to Venice. I work 10-12 hours a day but can still squeeze in yoga or Pilates at home with that schedule. I also have a treadmill and a stationary bike at home. We live in a hilly area, so it's easy to get a workout walking and biking in our neighborhood. It was during a bike ride that my injury happened.

How exactly did you get injured?
I jumped on my bicycle to start a downhill ride. I adjusted my helmet but had picked up so much speed that my bike got a little bit shaky. To slow down I grabbed the brake but hit the front brake instead of the back brake. I was going so fast that I flipped over the top of my bike and landed on my left shoulder.

How much damage did your bike accident do?
Paramedics took me to the hospital, where the doctors examined only what hurt at that time. They didn't do a full-body examination. I couldn't breathe right afterward, so they found right away that I'd broken three ribs. The impact of hitting the ground as hard as I did going downhill caused a lot of injuries that surfaced a little bit later as well. I had a broken ankle, but I walked on it for about four days before I realized it was fractured. A few weeks later the tendinitis in my shoulder started bothering me, and I realized that I had a slight dislocation or something in my shoulder. My hip was so damaged that I couldn't walk on it, so about two weeks after the accident I went to a doctor I'd seen before.

Was this doctor able to help you?
He tried to drill a hole through my hip to see if he could encourage more blood flow to the area. There was nerve damage from the bones being too close together and not having enough fluid in the joint. After that drilling surgery I saw chiropractors once or twice a week for about a year and a half. I did physical therapy for a year, but no matter what, I couldn't get any pain relief in that hip. It felt like it was broken, and I couldn't walk on it. On days that I felt good I tried to stand up and walk around to get my normal chores done. I took a lot of medication and tried acupuncture, too.

Is that when you found Dr. Loddengaard?
Yes. I had done everything I could think of by the time my friend referred me to Dr. Loddengaard. My friend's daughter-in-law was on her knees, unable to walk, with spinal pain when she was referred to Dr. Loddengaard. After her miraculous recovery, my friend said I had to call Dr. Loddengaard, that he could do something for me. From my first appointment I felt complete confidence in him.

What was so special about Dr. Loddengaard that made you feel so confident in him?
He walked in the room and instead of getting right on his computer he actually shook my hand, and we talked for a few minutes. He wanted to know more about me. He spoke clearly, he had a lot of compassion, he had good energy, and he was on top of all the latest progress in his field. He said there were some new techniques he had performed with good results and that he thought I would be a good candidate for them, too. I wasn't in the dark about what was going on with my body…I had researched enough to understand that Dr. Loddengaard knew what he was talking about.

He said if I wanted to I could talk to other patients with similar situations. Until then, I hadn't met any doctors who wanted me to be as completely comfortable as he did with my decisions. Usually they just say they can do something and you can sign up if you want to—if not, goodbye, see you later. Dr. Loddengaard and I had a longer office visit than what I expected because we talked about my family, what I do, and what my daily tasks are. He wanted to know more about me than any other doctor I know.

What about his staff?
The office staff was well functioning and his assistants were wonderful. You go in and they know what's going on. You get your x-rays before the doctor even comes to see you and they have everything pinned up on the wall for him. Because everything is done beforehand, he has had time to go over it, he has a plan, and he has options in mind for you. He is right on target with his care, a really wonderful caregiver.

Did you know you were going to have surgery by the time you saw Dr. Loddengaard?

Did you see other doctors before Dr. Loddengaard?
I was worried because I went to a different doctor who said that he just wanted to go ahead with surgery. He said my case was a piece of cake and he could do it on his lunch hour, and I would be good to go forever and wouldn't have any problems from that point on.

He scared me and I kind of ran out of his office because I know people half my age who are on full disability from having the procedure that doctor recommended. About three years passed before I actually had my surgery because I had been so worried about the life-long complications and excruciating pain I'd heard about. But after I talked to Dr. Loddengaard, I knew he had better options for me. Two weeks later Dr. Loddengaard performed the surgery. There were no complications.

How was your recovery?
The day of surgery I got up and walked around without any pain whatsoever. I was zooming around the floor of the hospital with no stress, no pain. I wasn't crying for medicine or anything, which was just amazing. Physical therapy went very well. In fact, immediately after surgery my therapist said I didn't even look like I had surgery. I was doing that well.

How long after spine surgery did you have your hip replacement?
It was only a few weeks later. It scared me to death to have a full hip replacement because as a nurse I'd seen a lot of elderly people have problems with the procedure. But I had also seen plenty of good results, and I knew that my age and good health made it likely that I'd also have good results. After I decided to have the surgery, I felt totally comfortable because Dr. Loddengaard had been such an amazing spine doctor. I knew I was in good hands. Ten days later I went back to work for light duty. My physical therapy changed a bit to focus on both my hip and spine, and I progressed without any problems.

What was your total recovery time, from the spine surgery, through the hip surgery, and to normal life with no physical therapy?
One month. I did give up the serious trauma nursing, which was really intense physical labor, and went into ambulatory care. It's still long shifts but not as fast-paced and physical.

It's been three years since your surgeries. How are you now?
I've been great ever since. My husband and I just got back from a trip where we did some bungee jumping, zip lining, banana boating, hiking, and everything we possibly could, and I had no problems. We played an 18-hole golf course that required climbing, not just riding around in carts, and I had a great time doing that, too.

What advice would you give people who are in pain after sustaining an injury or because of a condition?
I think they should do something right away. Really open the door to getting yourself corrected quickly. The time that I waited I could regret, but I don't want to have any regrets. I did learn a lot by reading along the way. I stayed away from the internet because there is way too much information and way too much distraction. Instead I went to a medical library, where I read about hips, spines, and got some local information. There are support groups everywhere. You can speak to people who have had hip surgeries and spine surgeries. Make sure your plan is all-inclusive: start with the doctor and then go all the way through physical therapy.

Why would you recommend Dr. Loddengaard to other people?
Dr. Loddengaard is worth the time. He is kind, intelligent, and compassionate about what he does and what he will do. I feel so confident knowing that no matter who I refer to him, and I've sent referrals to him already, that he will do the very best for them that he can possibly do, and if he cannot he will make sure they are in good hands. He is that compassionate that he will not take on a case unless he knows exactly what is going on and that he can make a difference. He finds the very best for you.

Finding a physician, getting the very best recommendations, interviewing them, and feeling comfortable with them is very important. If you feel good with them then that is the doctor to stay with. If you feel you haven't found the right doctor, you need to keep researching until you do.

Back to Top