The Power to Persevere

by Scott Hutchinson
December 10, 2017

There’s a commitment, a singleness of purpose, exhibited by every successful powerlifter. 

Jackie Jaeger is a successful powerlifter. 

Jaeger picked up the sport a couple of years ago. A friend of hers who also happened to be a personal trainer had extended an offer to get her started, an offer he made a number of times over the course of several years. Jaeger, who danced around the topic for some time, eventually relented.

“I guess I was at a point in my life where I thought it might be time to take the first step,” said Jaeger. She acknowledged there was a steep learning curve.

“I couldn’t do anything when I started,” she said. “I was weak, out of shape, exhausted.”

But Jackie persevered. Soon she had transformed herself into a bit of a gym rat, devoting time and effort into learning the routines that are fundamental to the sport: the squat, the deadlift, the clean, the bench press. 

She embraced the discipline, and she liked how it made her feel.

“I like feeling physically strong,” said Jaeger. 

It went beyond that, however.

“It helped me feel stronger not just physically, but emotionally,” Jaeger said. “I felt more confident.”

As her journey continued, Jaeger noticed a slight pain in her groin, which gradually intensified. Jaeger’s injury was due not to the demands of the sport she recently embraced but rather to something that occurred at birth: Jaeger had congenital hip dysplasia. The affliction commonly doesn’t manifest itself until much later in life, often first appearing in people in their forties. 

Physical therapy ensued, but the issue persisted. Jaeger saw orthopedic specialists; two hip scopes were done to clean up damage. Improvement was limited, and activities she took for granted were slipping away.

Jaeger enjoyed a very active life, with a predictable focus on the sports calendars of her two boys. She loved hiking at High Cliff as well as the daily dog walk, which accompanied all the regular duties of a single mother. These activities were being robbed from her, incrementally. She could no longer keep up.

Jaeger’s job performance was being affected as well. A certain amount of flexibility is required in a nurse, and Jaeger was finding that it was becoming increasingly difficult to contort herself in ways she needed to in order to serve her patients. She also found she couldn’t get to patients’ rooms as quickly as she did before.

And it didn’t matter how much she worked out. The pain just wasn’t going away.

Ultimately, she knew she’d need to take another step, and that next step looked like surgery.

Jaeger began her search for information about hip replacement surgery, and her research led her to robotic surgery. While she wasn’t completely familiar with the technique, she was intrigued by what she learned. 

“From the start, I was influenced by the differentiators I found,” Jaeger said. “Lower dislocation rates, precise implant positioning. I found the statistics persuasive, and I really couldn’t identify a downside.”

Her journey led her to the Orthopedic & Sports Institute (OSI), Dr. Ken Schaufelberger, and the Mako Robot. Schaufelberger is one of the OSI orthopedic surgeons utilizing Mako, the robotic arm used during the operation. 

The process begins with CT scan, taken to create a virtual 3D model that is loaded into the Mako System software and used by the surgeon to create a personalized pre-operative plan.

This information is used as a kind of surgical roadmap during the joint replacement procedure. The surgeon guides the robotic arm and the Mako System helps the surgeon stay within the planned boundaries that were defined when the pre-operative plan was created.

After meeting with Schaufelberger, Jaeger made her decision to move ahead with the robotic surgical option. Jaeger was excited about being one of the first to have the opportunity to have robotic hip replacement surgery, which in Northeastern Wisconsin is available exclusively at OSI. Jaeger was supremely confident about her choice. 

“I knew I was making the right decision,” she said. 

Following surgery on that June day, Jaeger vividly remembers the first step she took.

“It was life-changing,” she said. “I didn’t have that pain anymore.”

Minus the pain, Jaeger soon resumed the activities she had been missing. One of those, of course, was powerlifting. She found returning to the weights was a bit daunting.

“It was kind of scary getting back into the routine,” Jaeger said. “You’re fixed, but you don’t want to get broken again.”

Jaeger is now building up her strength and making positive strides, both physically and mentally.

She’s hiking with her boys again, keeping up with the dog. She’s able to meet the demands of her job. Those things she once took for granted and lost are being returned, but Jaeger doesn’t take them for granted anymore. 

“It’s incredible what happens when you have your abilities taken away from you,” she said. 

Focused on maintaining her strength and rededicated to her sport, Jaeger has persevered through some difficult moments and finds herself in a very good place.

“Now I have my life back,” she said.