Hi, I’m Tom Fuchs. I’ve been a runner and an athlete for the majority of my life. At the time of this writing, I’m 46. I graduated from Gonzaga University where I ran and coached for 4 years. I now coach XC at my kids’ grade school here in Spokane, Washington. I’m a married father of 4 boys and I work as an IT Manager for a wholesale distributor of aircraft avionics. There’s really nothing special about me. You could call me an average Joe actually. I don’t go crazy on gels and gu’s and I don’t eat cliff bars. I prefer a good beer and a burger and I don’t watch my diet too much. I’ve slowed down a bit, but I can still manage a 6 minute mile when I’m in shape. The problem is, I’ve been getting in less and less shape thanks to this bum hip of mine.
This troublesome hip first bared its ugly head in 1996 when I woke up one morning and my hip was locked up. It took some work to get out of bed. I was told I had arthritis in my hip and I should quit running. So I did. One year and 20 lbs later, I started running again. Everything was fine for the next decade. The hip it seemed was just fine. No more locking, no pain. At the beginning of 2009 I decided to get more serious about my running. My buddy Eric who I ran with in college, told me that the 2010 USATF Cross-Country Championships would be held in Spokane and he thought we should do it. So I ramped up my training and I joined a men’s running group called “The Spokane Distance Project“. (I secretly knew that I was the project). Then it happened. I’ll never forget that summer day that I felt the little twinge in my hip that made it uncomfortable to run. I was running up to the Arbor Crest Winery during my lunch hour. The winery sits on a bluff that overlooks the whole Spokane Valley. It is a beautiful view, but you first have to pay the price of climbing the road to get up to it. As I was running back down the hill, the pain became more pronounced. I decided to take it easy for the next few days, but since that day…..the hip has reminded me that it is not well. I was always alarmed when people would ask, “Why are you limping?” when I didn’t even realize that I was. No amount of PT or stretching or visits with the chiropractor alleviated the pain. The diagnosis was straightforward: osteoarthritis in the left hip. I knew I had 2 choices. One, stop running and stop eating what I wanted, or 2 keep running and keep eating what I wanted and just deal with the pain. Experience showed me how I did when I stopped running, so I chose option 2. Everything seemed manageable until about 5 months ago. My limping became more pronounced, my times started slowing down, and I would feel the hip pain while I sat or even slept. I also noticed that my running form had changed because after long runs, I would finish with a gash just above my left ankle where the right shoe must have been coming through and rubbing. On top of all of that, my left knee started aching because I was using it to overcompensate from the hip problems.
THE INSPIRATON FOR THIS BLOG
My story begins on the day I met my orthopedist (Dr. Tim) on 12/13/2011………..
“Not much compares to the natural high and fitness level that you get from running.”, Dr. Tim told me. “The hip replacement technology has vastly improved.” He went on. “But there just is not enough data to go by in terms of continuing to run, or even being able to run after a hip replacement.” This sounded like the nail in the coffin for my running career. But then he continued……”So if you choose to try to run…..you become your own experiment.” BOOM! This is what I needed to hear. I looked at him and said, “No……I become…YOUR experiment!”.
And so begins my journey. I’m a glass half full kind of guy. And the optimism in me at the time of this writing is extremely high. I have great hope for success in this endeavor, and you are welcome to follow along on my journey to recovery……even if after the recovery I decide that I need to find a new form of exercise. Surgery is scheduled for 1/3/2012. I hope that this blog will serve as a reference for others who find themselves in the same situation down the road.