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Our Patients Say it Best

Your friends and neighbors from throughout southwest Michigan and beyond share their experiences at Spectrum Health Lakeland. Do you have a story to share? Click on the "What's Your Story" button and complete the form. 

Oct 28, 2022 Reporting from Niles, MI
Determined to find relief - Valerie Krieger
Oct 28, 2022
Coloma, Michigan resident, Valerie Krieger led a full and active life. As an elementary school teacher, she is often on her feet for hours at a time. When she felt a twitch of pain in her hip, she did not think very much of it, and assumed it would g

Determined to find relief - Valerie Krieger

SpectrumHealth Lakeland

Determined to find relief - Valerie Krieger

Oct, 2022

Physicians: Jennifer Williams, NP James Maskill, DPM Jeffrey Postma, DO

Coloma, Michigan resident, Valerie Krieger led a full and active life. As an elementary school teacher, she is often on her feet for hours at a time. When she felt a twitch of pain in her hip, she did not think very much of it, and assumed it would go away with over-the-counter pain medication. But things did not improve, and Valerie found herself living with considerable chronic pain.  

At her annual physical, Valerie mentioned the hip pain to her primary care provider, Jennifer Williams, NP. They both agreed that her discomfort could be connected to the pain she was also experiencing in her feet. During the exam, Jennifer diagnosed Valerie with a hammertoe, a foot condition in which the toe is abnormally bent and can sometimes make it difficult for people to walk normally and without pain.  

“I was referred to a podiatrist but there were so many challenges involved with taking a day off of work, that I kept putting it off,” said Valerie. “The pain was not going away, and my quality of life began to suffer.” 

As a working parent with competing responsibilities, many adults have shared they are accustomed to putting their health needs aside for others. Valerie continued to live with constant discomfort for the next three years. Basic everyday things like driving or getting in and out of bed were difficult. It was painful for her to lay down, sit, and walk. Her lack of physical activity resulted in weight gain she had worked hard to lose.  

Finally ready for relief, Valarie met with Spectrum Health Lakeland foot and ankle specialist, James Maskill, DPM at Community Bone and Joint in Coloma. Following a thorough exam and X-rays of her feet, Dr. Maskill recommended foot reconstruction surgery to fix the problem. 

“I was afraid of having surgery at first, but after talking with Dr. Maskill, I felt confident that it was the right choice for me,” said Valerie. For eight weeks she visited the practice for cast changes. “Going to Community Bone and Joint always felt like I was catching up with old friends. Everyone knew me by name and were genuinely interested in how I was doing.”  

Though her foot surgery was successful, and she had a remarkable recovery, Valerie’s hip pain still lingered and worsened. Dr. Maskill, then referred her to see another Spectrum Health Lakeland physician, orthopedic surgeon, Jeffrey Postma, DO

Making health a priority meant a new hip in her 50s

“I had full trust in Dr. Postma and knew him already because he had operated on my daughter’s knee and repaired a torn meniscus,” said Valerie. 

Dr. Postma discovered that her hip bones were grinding against each other. And at 52 years old, it was recommended that Valerie get a total hip replacement.  

“I was so mentally ready to get it done,” she said. “I had seen myself hunched over, straining to walk, in a home video clip my daughter had taken. I didn’t realize how much I was compensating for the pain I was in.” 

Dr. Postma and the surgical team at Spectrum Health Lakeland Watervliet Hospital reassured her that she would feel better instantly. “The care at the hospital was phenomenal. The entire process from check-in, to prepping me for surgery, my overnight stay, and post-op care went smoothly,” recalled Valerie. 

“Right after my release, I was walking with no pain and moving freely. Dr. Postma truly gave me my life back,” said Valerie. 

She is incredibly pleased with the care and attention she received at each encounter with Spectrum Health Lakeland. She knows the importance of putting your own health first and not delaying treatment.  

“Surgery may seem scary, but the relief I feel now made it all worth it,” said Valerie.  

She is now back to enjoying the things she loves and has enthusiastically returned to teaching in the very same classroom where she once sat as a little girl.

Watch more of Valerie's story.


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