Her Personal Best



A 40-minute workout after a day of teaching school? That wasn’t exactly Anne Conway’s idea of inching toward retirement. But that’s her routine on this Tuesday afternoon in February -- and many other days, too.

Sweat glistening on her forehead, she reaches over and increases the resistance on the triceps machine. She completes 20 reps, then moves to the next station.

Anne laughs when she states her goal: “Do this without perspiring!”

A year ago this longtime Fargo educator never imagined a total hip replacement could lead to a new lease on life.

“Exercise was never even in my vocabulary,” says Anne. “This whole experience pushed me into a totally different way of thinking…”

Overcoming fear

Anne’s need for a total hip replacement followed years of rheumatoid arthritis -- an autoimmune disease. Even when well-managed, RA can eventually wreak havoc with joints.

“Last spring I recognized I was walking funny -- like a duck, but I didn’t know why,” says Anne. She was referred to Dr. Andrew Hvidston, orthopedic surgeon at Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in Fargo.

When Dr. Hvidston showed her an X-ray of a healthy hip joint compared to her own, she saw the problem.

“I knew surgery was the right answer, but that didn’t stop my mind from going wild,” she says. “I was 59 at the time and wondered -- is this the beginning of the end? Will all my joints need to be replaced? Is it time to write my obituary? I have a huge imagination.”

Moving through a coordinated process

Dr. Hvidston’s experience and his explanation of the surgery reassured her life was not over. She also learned that surgical expertise sets the stage for the next important steps.

Anne’s successful surgery took place last June at Sanford South University Hospital. Three days later she was in the classroom teaching math. A walker helped stabilize her.

“The people at Sanford get you moving right away,” she says. “It’s a little like graduating from high school and receiving luggage from your parents. It’s their way of saying, ‘Go on now, have a good life.’”

Beating the blues

For Anne, the “good life” needed a boost.

“Initially I was a little depressed and didn’t feel like exercising,” she says. “That’s where my physical therapist Jennifer Iverson really made a difference. Always professional and always kind, she wouldn’t allow me the luxury of feeling sorry for myself. She kicked my butt and motivated me!”

Twice-a-week outpatient PT led to increased strength and mobility. But Anne gained something more: inspiration to lead a more active, healthy life. She’s already lost 71 pounds.

“Before, I had an awful diet -- a lot of fat and I loved red meat. Now I’m a fish and chicken girl,” she says.

Anne credits Dr. Hvidston for opening her eyes to the benefits of exercise and weight loss. “Way back at that first appointment, he talked to me about the importance of exercise with RA. I remember sitting there laughing because I wasn’t an exerciser,” she says. “He also talked with me about less body weight so we could reduce the stress on the tissue. Now I’m very grateful he was willing to have that discussion with me.”

Reaching higher

Today Anne exercises at Sanford Family Wellness Center. Jennifer designed a program, then sent it to the Wellness Center trainers.

“The trainers are very accessible,” she says, pointing to the island at the center of this spacious, spotless exercise area surrounded by windows. “I can ask them questions anytime, and they ask me questions, too. They show me how to push harder, but safely.”

Feeling more energetic than she’s felt in years and moving better, Anne looks to the future with a new mantra: “Keep trying, keep moving, keep pushing. If it’s important to you, do it!”

Anne’s “do it” list

Anne hasn’t set a retirement date yet, but she knows three passions will top her list in the years ahead: Writing children’s books, teaching kids to read and dancing at every chance she gets.

Already she’s had the chance. “Two weeks after my hip surgery I went to an anniversary party,” says Anne. “There was a band and a dance floor and I was out there moving -- no more walker. If there’s live music, I’m sure not going to sit there. I’m dancing!”

Posted Date: April 2012

Her Personal Best

Anne Conway had no idea a total hip replacement could lead to an inspired life of fitness and health. See how everything came together at Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine!