Indestructible!

Dear Hipsters,

There are many encouraging posters on this site. Most recovery stories are filled with wisdom, courage and perseverance. Great to see so many folks shattering conventional, conservative attitudes about hip replacement and aging.

I write with more good news. You can have a hip replaced and be an idiot too!

I am 14 months post-op. Right hip, ceramic/poly. My other posts summarize my quick recovery: Home 18 hours after surgery. Indoor cycling started 4 days post op. Never used cane or crutches. Did my own PT after day one. Ran after 11 weeks. Have skied back bowls in Vail, backcountry skied in VT, cycled lots, inline speed skated etc. I’m 68, so I’m not going to set any PR’s, but I used to be pretty competitive. As the saying goes, “the older I get, the faster I was.”

Throughout the year I have been less and less conscious of my “artificial” hip. Now I take no precautions. That’s where idiot comes in. Here’s a report of last weekend:

On Friday I did a trail run up and down a small “mountain” in central Vermont. 5 mile roundtrip. Uphill was uneventful other than realizing I’m not 35 anymore. Downhill – well – I’m not 35 anymore. I loosened up and got into a youthful rhythm. The bouncing from rock to rock, letting my momentum carry me down at a fast pace, felt glorious. My hip took all the impact I had to offer. Full weight landings from various heights as the trail descended. I got cocky.

Because I’m not 35 (did I point that out?) every stride is slightly shorter than my intentions. It’s like playing basketball, where driving the baseline for a reverse layup, gently spinning the ball off the backboard, now results in “banking” the ball off the bottom of the rim. Or planning to jump nimbly across a puddle and landing just about six inches short of the other side.

So, naturally, my mind thought I was 35, my body knows it’s 68, and my shorter, lower stride resulted in catching my toe on a rock. I was ass over elbow, crashed onto a dry stream bed, all delusions of youth vaporized. I picked myself up, looked around to make sure no humans or other mammals were laughing, and took stock of the damage. My toe and foot throbbed, my shoulder hurt, several fingers were bleeding, my shirt was slightly torn . . . but I got back into rhythm, ran back to the car and realized – the only thing that doesn’t hurt is my right hip.

Saturday, my foot was too sore to run. Mountain biked in Stowe, VT. Several loops of a moderately challenging loop got my technical skills warmed up. My fitness is pretty decent. So, as on Friday, I decided to ride a notoriously fun descent – a trail named Florence. The hairpins were banked. I suppose it’s called Florence because it flows so beautifully. Near the bottom I made a sharp, “rooty” turn and encountered uphill riders. I tried to avoid them and ended up in the trees. Bruised my arm and banged my shin with enough force that the ensuing swelling (honest to goodness, the size of a baseball), subsequently made my wife nauseous. I hit my other shoulder (the one that hadn’t been whomped on Friday. The only thing that didn’t ache was my right hip.

Undaunted, I returned to Stowe on Sunday. Florence beckoned. Despite various residual pains, I felt smooth and confident. Like Friday’s “youthful rhythm,” I got into the flow on Flo. Probably 25% faster through the hairpins, over the roots – blazing like a kid again. Then the double bumps, which I had negotiated easily at 15 mph on Saturday. 20-25 mph was just fast enough to get air over bump one and drive the front wheel directly into the nearly vertical face of bump two. Most spectacular crash ever, I think. My bike and I were temporarily in different Zip codes. I actually recall the sound of helmet material crushing as my head struck first. As has become habit, I got up, looked around to make sure no humans or other mammals were laughing, and took stock of the damage. My neck hurt, my back hurt, my wrist felt sprained, but I got back into rhythm (the 68 year-old rhythm) rode back to the car and realized – the only thing that doesn’t hurt is my right hip.

My toe was a bit better, so I finished my day with a refreshing 4 mile run along a sedate but beautiful recreational path in Stowe. Very little chance of crashing.

I love my surgeon.

Steve

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      Steve Nelson
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      Dear Hipsters, There are many encouraging posters on this site. Most recovery stories are filled with wisdom, courage and perseverance. Great to see s
      [See the full post at: Indestructible!]

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