A Slow but Rewarding Journey to Recovery
Dr. Lisa Andelin, physician in Employee Health Services, Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles, Primary Care

For Dr. Lisa Andelin, a physician from Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, says the biggest accomplishment in her life wasn’t graduating from medical school - it was learning how to walk again.

A fall down the stairs nine years ago, changed her life forever. She broke bones, tore multiple ligaments and suffered from major nerve damage. She had injured her ankle and foot so severely that she was completely unable to walk. She says her journey to recovery has been painstakingly slow.

She went from being in a wheelchair, to walking on crutches, and then to using a cane. She says she will never fully recover, run or play sports again. But the good news is she now can walk again.

She walked her first 5K last year, and has since completed about 20 races. She now takes part in two to three races every month, and her next race is the Santa Monica Classic 5K on September 10. “I am so grateful to be where I am today,” Dr. Andelin said. “It feels wonderful to get out there with other people who want to experience health and positivity in their lives.”

She says she won’t push herself too hard. She races against her previous fastest times, and sometimes the person right in front of her. Her goal is to walk the 5Ks faster and faster, and hopes to start riding a bicycle again. One step at a time, she says.

“With patience and optimism, it’s possible to greatly improve our health and our lives. It turned out that something as simple as walking, was the path to recovery for me,” Dr. Andelin said.

Kaiser Permanente member Salina Madrigal was an avid runner with three half marathon medals to prove it. But she stopped running four years ago. “My knees started hurting so I took a long break from running,” Madrigal said. But last June when her grandfather passed away, she decided to pick it up again. He was a healthy and very active 91-year-old, who exercised everyday of his life, she says. “His last words to me and my brother were ‘Do me a favor and just run. If I could still run, I would run.’”

In honor of her late grandfather, Salina, her brother, and her husband will run the Santa Monica Classic 10K as part of their training for the Los Angeles Marathon. Salina says she will make a T-shirt with her grandfather’s name on it and wear it during the race to honor him. “ I was lacking motivation to start running again, but he has inspired me to get back into it.”

On Saturday mornings, you can likely find father and son, Yosef (49) and Jonathan (6) Zibari, running along San Vicente Boulevard towards the Santa Monica Pier. They’re training for the Santa Monica Classic 5K, and it will be Jonathan’s first race. “He’s ready,” says Yosef, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center, who says they have been training for one year for this special event.

“It has been a bonding experience and our private time together,” Yosef says. He also has two daughters, one who is Jonathan’s twin, and a four-year-old. While Yosef is an avid runner, who hopes to complete his fifth Los Angeles Marathon next March, he says he never pressured his son to take up running. “He simply saw me running and asked to come along,” Yosef says. They started out running around the block, but now they run four miles together once a week.

“This race is for Jonathan, not for me. He dictates the pace. I never want to push him,” Yosef says. Right now Jonathan is focusing on how he should pose when crossing the finish line, says his Dad, and he’s very excited at the prospect of passing other runners along the race course. They will celebrate their achievement by driving to Santa Barbara with the rest of their family after the race.