NorthShore University HealthSystem
Mom on the Move: Healing Crippling Arthritis
Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at age 16, Saira Marquez still had a self-described normal, active life including a love of dance. But when she became pregnant with her son Julian, everything changed. Crippled with debilitating pain in her hips that left her in a wheelchair and barely able to walk, Marquez hoped that following her son’s birth her body would return to normal. But her RA only got worse.
Three months after her son was born, Marquez could no longer tolerate the pain. She also developed a limp that made her self-conscious. “I didn’t even want to go out, I was so depressed. The pain was horrible. Even getting out of bed to go to the bathroom at night was extremely painful,” she recalled.
Her rheumatologist urged the 24-year-old Marquez to see NorthShore Orthopaedic Institute Surgeon Lalit Puri, MD, MBA. “He saved my life,” Marquez said, after having both hips replaced by Dr. Puri. She has since gained a new lease on life.
“I wasn’t even scared of the surgery. As soon as I met Dr. Puri he completely explained the situation and the benefits of the operation and I went for it. I wanted to be done with the pain.”
While it is not necessarily the norm for patients as young as Marquez to undergo hip replacement, it was her only option, said Dr. Puri, Division Chief of Adult Reconstruction.
“By the time I met Saira she was dealing with crippling RA and such severe hip pain that limited her ability to do even the simplest things we take for granted. She had obviously failed conservative therapies and total hip replacement was the only answer,” he said.
Dr. Puri performed the first minimally invasive hip arthroplasty on Marquez’s right hip in June 2014 and initially thought he would wait up to six months before the second surgery to replace her left hip. But Marquez was a model patient, working diligently with her physical therapists and healing rapidly.
“I go to Zumba every day. It’s amazing to be able to do what I like again.” – Saira Marquez following a double hip replacement to ease her crippling rheumatoid arthritis. | © Jonathan F. Hillenbrand (NorthShore University HealthSystem)
“They make you stand up the same day of the surgery and I was amazed. I was immediately able to start walking without pain,” Marquez said.
“She made a remarkable recovery,” Dr. Puri said. “NorthShore’s surgical care team including nurses and physical therapists was a large part of that, but Marquez also gets a lot of credit for her recovery. She was incredibly upbeat about all the hills she would have to climb, and that’s half the battle.”
Dr. Puri performed Marquez’s second hip replacement three months later. “I wanted to go back to my normal life as soon as possible,” Marquez said.
Integrated Care Team
The minimally invasive surgery allows for quicker recovery times, and NorthShore’s multidisciplinary team approach—including specially trained total joint replacement nurses and physical therapists—maximize benefits for patients, explained Dr. Puri. The entire patient care team, including pain control specialists in anesthesiology and experienced nurses, from pre-op through post-surgery and home care are all important to patients’ success, he added.
“I was at Skokie Hospital for three days and everyone there was great,” Marquez said. “They are really nice and interested in what’s going on with you as a person. The therapists explained exactly what I needed to do. I did my physical therapy at home because of my son, and the home care people were so helpful.”
After expert orthopaedic surgery at NorthShore, Saira Marquez is better able to keep up with her young son Julian. | © Jonathan F. Hillenbrand (NorthShore University HealthSystem)
Dr. Puri continues to be a part of Marquez’s care team, which includes her NorthShore Rheumatologist Justin Gan, MD, who is successfully managing her RA with medication. “To see her walk with confidence now is so gratifying,” said Dr. Puri. “Despite the fact that she has RA, she’s capable of doing whatever she wants to do.”
Marquez hopes to go back to school and study to become an ultrasound technologist, but for now she is enjoying time with her young son. “I’m a normal mom now. With the RA it’s a little hard to carry him for a long time, but I can get on the floor and play with him. I go to Zumba almost every day. I can danceand move—music has always been a big part of my life. It’s amazing to be able to do what I like again!”