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Passionate skier has total hip replacement in September, hits slopes in following winter
Judy McLennan is a fixture in the Newport sailing world—a lifelong sailor, from a family of world-class sailors, and founder/director of the Clagett regatta, an international event for sailors with disabilities. She’s also a passionate skier, who strapped on her first pair of skis at age 8 and went on to spend years working as a ski instructor (a footnote to her career in politics and diplomacy), even founding a ski school in Quebec.
"If you have to have surgery—this was an extraordinarily positive experience." - Judy McLennan
So when this vibrant, athletic woman was faced with the prospect of a hip replacement, her first thought was of the ski season to come. She’d already been kept off the slopes the previous year, due to back surgery. The prospect of losing another season was grim.
Judy had been referred to the Lifespan orthopedics team at Newport Hospital. After delivering the verdict on her hip, “The doctor just looked at me with a big smile and said, ‘Well, maybe you don’t have to give up skiing for the whole winter. How does February sound to get you back on the slopes?’ I thought that sounded absolutely fabulous. So he said, ‘Okay, I’ll see you in the operating room in two weeks!’”
Judy had a total hip replacement in September, which was performed using the innovative Radlink GPS imaging system. She was back at her Portsmouth home within a few days. “It was a wonderful experience, if surgery can be wonderful,” she says. “You really feel the doctor cares about you, and that’s not always the case. Everyone in that office is just so kind and pleasant. I really appreciate that they get back to you with answers to your questions right away, so you’re not waiting around; all the precautions they take at the hospital made me feel very comfortable. If you have to have surgery—this was an extraordinarily positive experience.”
Of course, when the surgery is over, that’s when the hard work starts—as an athlete, and someone who has worked with and been inspired by other athletes with disabilities, Judy understood more than most the importance of physical therapy. The past months have been laser-focused on recovery, with daily physical therapy and other strengthening sessions. And today, three months post-surgery? “I’m mobile, and my hip feels fabulous,” she says. And she’s planning to hit the slopes later this winter.