THE FIT FILE: Fruita woman continues active lifestyle even after double knee-replacement surg
After a sprinkling of success on the links, Marilyn Elterman finished up right before the rain drenched a Michigan golf course.
That day more than two years ago was when she knew her failing knees just couldn’t hold up anymore.
“It was raining hard, and I was trying to get my gear to the car,” she said from her Fruita home. “I just stood there in the rain, and I couldn’t walk with the bag to my car.”
It was time for knee replacement surgery. Her right knee was the worse but she had both replaced on Dec. 16, 2011.
And now, five days away from her 73rd birthday, she’s thrilled with the result.
“It’s been great,” she said.
Elterman was up walking around the day after surgery and started her physical therapy almost immediately. But there was a bunch of pain.
“It’s not a fun surgery by any means,” she said with a laugh.
Elterman always has been active. Whether it was on the ski slopes, the golf course, a bike or at the gym, she’s never been one to stand still for long.
It was on the slopes where she met her husband, Don. They’ve now been married for 42 years after they met as ski instructors at a now-closed little Front Range slope called Squaw Pass.
Times certainly have changed since they worked at a ski area where a lift ticket cost three bucks.
Elterman laughs when she talks about how age has had a minor impact on her active lifestyle. She once worked for Vail Associates and some years she was on the sticks more than 100 times a season. She gave up skiing about 12 years ago when her knees just rebelled too much.
She and Don, 78, tackled Ride the Rockies a few times, but now it’s golf and the gym that keeps them active and healthy.
“I’m not good, but I play,” Marilyn said about golf with a chuckle.
But she’s better at the game now that she had knee replacement surgery. “I can pick up the bag and carry it now,” she said.
But it’s the better golf swing that excites her the most.
“Just getting out there and swinging the club correctly,” she said. “I got to the point (because of knee pain and lack of flexibility) that I was all arms in my swing.”
Once she committed to the surgery, she did four months of intense training to build up her muscles to the point where the post-surgery physical therapy would be much easier.
Once she was home from surgery, Don “was wonderful,” doing the cleaning and taking care of her. But he just couldn’t master the cooking duties.
“He was very helpful at home but he finally gave up and said ‘I can’t cook,’” Marilyn said.
He couldn’t even cook soup correctly, she said and laughed again.
Marilyn and Don, who moved to Mesa County about 16 years ago, go to the Fruita Community Center together at least three times a week.
Marilyn started personal training with Joan Harrison at the center before the surgery. Marilyn now works out with a small group but still with personal attention from Harrison.
“The class size is small so Joan can keep an eye on all of us,” Marilyn said.
When Marilyn is in the class, Don is doing his thing in the weight room or walking on the track.
Every Monday and Wednesday, Marilyn goes to the morning class for more than an hour. Every workout is different and she likes that. She also enjoys knowing that Harrison understands their physical limitations.
“I enjoy knowing that she’s not going to ask something of me that is going to hurt me. I feel confident that what we do is not going to be overdone.”
The classes rotate between a variety of different workouts such as interval training, weight lifting, cycling, even some Pilates.
“She keeps it geared to the individual. You never know what it’s going to be the next time,” Marilyn said.
One or two other days a week, Marilyn does her own thing at the community center. She lifts weights, stretches, rides the bike or works out on the machines.
“I never miss a class and I never go (to the center) less than three days a week,” she said.
When it comes to healthful eating, Marilyn said she doesn’t do anything special. She sticks to the basic food groups, watches her portions and eats right.
She laughs: We love to eat, I love to cook and love to eat and enjoy every bit of it.
“I probably eat more than I should.”
Snacking is the danger zone she admits.
“I really have to watch what snack food I have in the house,” she said.
Now that her knee replacement surgery is 25 months in the past, Marilyn said she’s free of pain, active and swinging the golf club better.
As Marilyn’s golf game improves there’s one person who might be a little more worried than before: Don.
“I’m giving him a bit of trouble now,” Marilyn said with a laugh. “He can still hit the ball a lot longer but I’m more accurate.”
A healthy, active lifestyle is a way of life for Marilyn. She never had to give it much thought, she just did it. It was always as easy as soup.