Orthopaedic Patient Planning to Hike 500 Miles | Loyola Medicine
Friday, August 30, 2019

Loyola Orthopaedic Patient Planning to Hike 500 Miles

Man walking on a hiking path wearing hiking boots.

MAYWOOD, IL – Randy Jonas was so hobbled by arthritic knees and a bad back that he couldn't walk more than a block or two without debilitating pain.

But after undergoing spine surgery and two knee replacements at Loyola Medicine, Mr. Jonas feels so good he's planning to walk 500 miles in the famed pilgrimage known as the Way of St. James.

Mr. Jonas, 72, of Chicago, also underwent successful shoulder surgery at Loyola.

"I'm Loyola's bionic man," he said. "I'm a new man because of the operations I've had at Loyola,"

The Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) is a network of routes leading to a cathedral in northwest Spain in the city of Santiago de Compostela. The remains of the apostle James are said to be buried in the cathedral. More than 300,000 people annually take various routes to the cathedral on foot, bicycle and horseback. Mr. Jonas' route will begin in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains and take him across northern Spain.

Mr. Jonas plans to begin his trek on Sept. 5. He'll carry his clothes and belongings in an 18-pound backpack, and sleep in hostels. He estimates it will take 38 to 40 days to complete the hike, averaging about 13 miles per day.

Mr. Jonas said he is doing the long walk in honor of his late wife, Arlene. He first read about the Way of St. James when she was in the hospital being treated for cancer. He promised her that when she got better, they would go to Santiago de Compostela to give thanks. Unfortunately, she did not survive the cancer.

A few years ago, when Mr. Jonas was hobbled by back pain, walking even one mile would have been unthinkable. The pain was caused by a pinched nerve and spondylolisthesis (slipped vertebra). Orthopaedic surgeon Alexander Ghanayem, MD, performed a laminectomy to relieve pressure on the nerve and a spinal fusion to stabilize the spine.

Mr. Jonas' knees, ravaged by arthritis and old rugby injuries, also made walking painful. Orthopaedic surgeon William Hopkinson, MD, repaired that problem by replacing both knees with artificial joints. Dr. Hopkinson said that while knee replacement patients should not run or jump, long hikes are okay. "The replacement joint should not limit a patient from physical activity," Dr. Hopkinson said.

Mr. Jonas also had a bad shoulder. Orthopaedic surgeon Dane Salazar, MD, relieved Mr. Jonas' shoulder pain and restored the joint's function by repairing a torn rotator cuff.

Mr. Jonas' surgeons said his positive outlook and hard work during rehab were instrumental in making his surgeries successful.

"I'm doing this to fulfill a commitment to my wife , and also as a spiritual journey," Mr. Jonas said. "I'm sure she will be watching over me during my trip."

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.