• Getting To The Heart o...
    In this issue of Healthy Living, the focus is on Eisenhower’s Cardiovascular Center of Excellence — a fitting topic to start the New Year as many of us make resolutions to improve our fitness. The... click for more
  • Majid Torabi, MD
    In the world of yoga and deep breathing, there is a common saying: a healthy mind has an easy breath. If that is true, the patients of Majid Torabi, MD have him to thank. Board Certified in... click for more
  • White House Briefing O...
    In 2012, Eisenhower Cardiologist Charlie Shaeffer, Jr, MD met with senior White House officials as part of a discussion with community leaders who are actively involved in the prevention, treatment... click for more
  • Eisenhower Medical Cen...
    Eisenhower Medical Center has again received full accreditation as a chest pain center from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC). Originally accredited in 2006 and then in 2009,... click for more
  • Luke Magnotto, MD
    The similarities between Luke Magnotto, MD, Board Certified in Emergency Medicine, and his great-greatgreat… grandfather Leonardo Di Capua, who lived at the end of the Renaissance period (b. 1617 in... click for more
  • It’s Berry Good For Yo...
    One of the best weapons in fighting cancer could be your fork.
    “Whether you want to prevent cancer or are currently fighting it, it’s important to provide your body with the proper fuel,” says Carolyn Katzin, MSPH, CNS, MNT, a nutritionist who works with Eisenhower Lucy Curci Cancer Center. “My goal here is to help people make small changes that can have a profound effect on overall health.”

    If you’ve already begun treatment for cancer, Katzin recommends focusing on two critical areas of your diet. “Getting enough protein is incredibly important,” she says. “For most people, that means adding one more serving per day. Also, sufficient hydration is essential, and in some cases, that means electrolytes as well.” click for more

  • Five Things You Can Do...
    1. Plan a Homemade Pizza Party
    Invite some friends and ask everyone to bring a favorite topping and drink to share. Give awards for most creative and best tasting pizzas.

    2. Stretch Your Face
    Prop yourself in front of a mirror and open your mouth wide, raise your eyebrows, wink, and wiggle your nose and ears, if you can. Laughing is permitted and highly encouraged.

    3. Walk Your Neighborhood
    As Katherine Hepburn once stated, “Exercise each day, in all kinds of weather.” Early mornings are quite pleasant even in the hottest months. click for more

  • What’s In A Label?
    Have you ever considered the notion that the fewer the ingredients, the less likely you are to ingest a long list of additives? Although it may seem daunting to wend your way through the supermarket reading food labels, knowing exactly what you’re eating is an important step to good health.

    The American Heart Association® and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention™ (CDC) list the recommended adequate amount of daily sodium as 1,500 milligrams or less. click for more

  • Celebrity Golf Invitat...
    The 25th annual Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational, benefiting the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center for abused children, tees off February 21-23, 2013. Eagle Falls Golf Course and Fantasy Springs... click for more
  • Discover Art!
    The posh boutiques, upscale restaurants and glitzy galleries of El Paseo in Palm Desert couldn’t have asked for a better new neighbor. The Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, located at the... click for more
  • The Picture of Health
    Tom and Michael Rice, big dude and little dude, about to get totally tubular in a gnarly surf sesh at Seaside, dude. TRANSLATION:Tom and Michael Rice, father and son, enjoy an early November surf... click for more

The Iron Lady

Eisenhower Surgeon Helps Ironman Champion Stay on Top of Her Sport

Cherie Gruenfeld competed in her first Ironman triathlon at age 48. Today, at 69, she’s one of the most decorated Master’s triathletes in the world, winning to date, 11 Ironman World Championships in her age class along with dozens of half-Ironman and other triathlon competitions, and setting course records along the way.

Her most recent win, in fact, was this past October at the renowned Kona Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. She was one of nearly 1,800 athletes who swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles and ran 26.2 miles — a full marathon — along the rugged Kona coast. It’s a remarkable demonstration of physical and mental endurance, and one that can take a toll on a person’s body at any age. Yet Gruenfeld did it just one year after a bike crash injury forced her to miss the 2011 competition.

“We don’t intend to get hurt, but we do,” says Gruenfeld, whose 2011 shoulder injury was her second since 2006 when she first sought out Orthopedic Surgeon Stephen J. O’Connell, MD, a hand, elbow and shoulder specialist at Eisenhower Desert Orthopedic Center. At that time, Gruenfeld and her husband Lee had moved to the desert from Santa Monica, and she considers finding Dr. O’Connell to be “pure serendipity.”

“It’s really nice to have somebody who understands what we do,” she says, referring to athletes like herself. “The first time I walked in the door, both Dr. O’Connell and his Physician Assistant Andrew Allen, PA-C, took me seriously. They understand that I want to get back in the game as quickly as possible and be 100 percent when I get there.”

Gruenfeld’s first visit to Dr. O’Connell in June 2006 was after she’d fallen off her bike during a competition, fracturing her sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) and injuring her right shoulder. “We treated her conservatively and she improved a lot, but she was bothered by a small rotator cuff injury that happened at the same time,” recalls Dr. O’Connell. “So that September, we did arthroscopic debridement and decompression of her shoulder, she did physical therapy and, six weeks after surgery, she was able to do a 50-mile bike ride.”

“That experience revealed her to be a pretty intense athlete,” he adds, with masterful understatement.

In July of 2011, however, Gruenfeld had another bike accident, severely fracturing her left clavicle (collarbone). “We took her into surgery and did an internal fixation with a customized titanium plate and multiple screws,” Dr. O’Connell relates. “To help her heal faster, we also did a bone graft and injected platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to stimulate healing.”

"I really love to race, compete and have the opportunity to win. I’m successful, so why wouldn’t I be motivated?” says Cherie. (Above) She trains on her bike in Hawaii and practices in a pool. The first running of the U.S. National Ironman Championship at Lake Placid in 1999. Cherie came in first in her age group, establishing the U.S. record, and then broke it two years later.
It was almost the same injury and treatment Gruenfeld had had in 2002, when she lived in Santa Monica. Then, however, her orthopedic surgeon told her she could go back to training about ten days after surgery.

“I thought that was terrific,” remembers Gruenfeld. Because the doctors had allowed her to resume using her arm right away, however, her clavicle hadn’t healed into good, strong bone.

“I expected Dr. O’Connell to tell me that I could go back to training and competing, but he had a serious talk with me and told me I was going to have to stay quiet and let my body heal for the remainder of 2011,” she says.

“I’m not very happy when I can’t do what I want to do, but I trust Dr. O’Connell, and I think he trusts me,” continues Gruenfeld. “He knows that I’ll push to the edge of the envelope, but when he tells me not to go over the edge, I won’t.”

“She’s an excellent patient and the ultimate in motivation,” responds Dr. O’Connell. “And that’s what makes the best patients — they’re on a mission to get better and return to the activity they love.

“Athletes like Cherie are human; their bones, muscles and tendons heal at the same rate as anyone else’s,” he continues. “The difference is in how intensely they rehabilitate. If you’re tentative about physical therapy, you’re probably not pushing the body hard enough to regain function. Cherie has the drive, determination and motivation to push herself. She’s the epitome of a committed patient.”

“I really love to race, compete and have the opportunity to win. I’m successful, so why wouldn’t I be motivated?” she says. “On that day in October in Kona when I crossed the finish line, there was a sense of accomplishment and gratification like no other. A wave came over me and I thought, holy cow, all those hours I spent training for this moment.”

“That was a sad day when I couldn’t do Kona in 2011, but I knew Dr. O’Connell was right,” says Gruenfeld. “When I came back, I had a completely undefeated season, testament that he was right — and we did it together.”


An injury may occasionally sideline her from competition, but Cherie Gruenfeld never stops putting herself out there to help kids have a better life. In 2000, she created Exceeding Expectations (www.eefoundation.org), a nonprofit organization supported entirely by private donations that helps to redirect the lives of at-risk inner-city kids in San Bernardino using the sport of triathlon. The objective is not to turn them into athletes, but to teach them how to set goals and work hard to achieve them.

“When I say it’s hard work and tell them what they have to do, they don’t question it because they see what I do,” she says. “So it’s important that I can do this for as long as I can do it well.”