Pay a Bill
NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.
By Susan J. White
The recently crowned world champion triathlete Diane Ragalie has raced around the world, racking up impressive finishes for 39 years, the last seven of those on new knees.
The 70-year-old Ragalie, who truly loves the sport of triathlon, began suffering the effects of genetics and a bit of overtraining more than 10 years ago, but continued to race on very sore knees, trying everything from taping to cortisone injections before realizing she needed a better solution.
In 2015 she saw NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute surgeon Ravi Bashyal, MD, an expert in minimally-invasive custom knee and hip replacements. As soon as she met Dr. Bashyal she was confident she found the right physician to address her aching joints. Dr. Bashyal performed a partial replacement of her left knee, and a full replacement on her right in 2016.
“At first I thought I would never get back to racing,” admitted Ragalie, who knew that running is not often recommended after knee replacements. But Dr. Bashyal understood how important the sport is to Ragalie and how her overall fitness level and dedication helped her recover.
“My goal with every surgery is to restore the person’s quality of life,” said Dr. Bashyal. “When arthritis is slowing you down it affects you physically, emotionally, and we know limited mobility negatively impacts overall health and wellness; being able to restore that is very gratifying.”
Ragalie competed in her first triathlon in 1984 and it quickly became her sport of choice, racing at a fast and furious pace and enjoying all kinds of adventures competing around the globe. “I like the competition and I love the lifestyle,” said Ragalie who winters in Florida where she can swim, bike and run outside all year. “I bike with younger gals, and that’s important,” said the retired Evanston Township High School physical education teacher.
Ragalie doesn’t give her knees a thought during training or racing, saying she feels strong and solid. “You can’t be tentative on the bike; I’m fearless,” she said.
Creating an exact 3-D model of an individual patient’s knee before surgery allows Dr. Bashyal to do meticulous planning ahead of the procedure. “The technology we have today enables us to perform many joint replacements as outpatient surgery, getting active and healthy patients up and out of the hospital and back home the same day,” he said. “The uniquely engineered replacements like Diane’s mimic the natural movement of the knee and should last the rest of her life.”
And it’s a life full of activity and excitement — Ragalie has done swimming vacations logging several miles a day in beautiful spots like Turkey and Croatia. She continues to teach swimming, referee for high school field hockey and even plays a little pickelball.
“I’m always looking for my next adventure,” said Ragalie. “I love Dr. Bashyal and I am so grateful I am able to keep going thanks to him.”
The technology, expertise and full spectrum of care at the NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute mean that people don’t have to put up with joint pain, said Dr. Bashyal, who notes that patients like Ragalie are living proof of that. “She’s incredible!”
The team of experts at NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute offers world-class options close by to help you feel like yourself again. We use innovative, minimally invasive techniques for joint replacement, complex spine surgeries, sports medicine and more, so you can get back to the activities you enjoy sooner. Learn more.