Friday, February 05, 2010


I'm trying to get away from the litany of woe that this blog has become, but i can't think of a way to put a cheerful spin on my impending surgery. I am about 2 days away from the event now. I look forward to an end to the irritating pain that has accompanied my every move for the last year, but it's difficult to accept that i will never run another marathon, never spend another Sunday afternoon running down some trail, never fight another sparring match, never play another pick-up game at some random basketball court.

I'm trying to focus more on what i can do. I'm thinking that i will try swimming. There's a good master's program in the community in which i live, and i've started to identify events that i can train for in the future (the Alcatraz swim is intriguing). I probably won't be able to spar in the style that i've become accustomed to, but i think this might be an opportunity to work on boxing. I hope to be able to revive my interest in backpacking, since at least the long walks will get me into the same territory where i would previously have run.

The remainder of this month is probably going to suck. I'll be in the hospital for a few days, followed by physical therapy and daily nurse visits for a while. I have to take blood thinners for 3 weeks after surgery. I've never had a general anesthetic and i don't really know what the aftermath will be like. I cling to the idea that in a month i will be essentially normal, except that i will have entered a new phase of life in which certain activities are no longer an option.

Probably the worst part of these weeks leading up to the surgery has been the sense of isolation. I've always had relatively few people in my life that i could have meaningful conversations with about things that are important to me. There are not that many people who have both an intellectual side and also understand the compulsion to run long distances, or the desire to fight, or even the general notion of taking on physical challenges. There are even fewer people with those qualities who have had to accept giving up all or some of it. Strangely, my current workplace is the first where there are several people who run or do other endurance events. When i hear people talking about doing a half-marathon or running a trail, i get this indescribable sense of being outside of their world, looking in. I imagine that it's like being a ghost.

The nurse at my orthopedic surgeon's office said that i might be the healthiest person for whom they've ever done a hip replacement. I take some comfort in this. A doctor acquaintance once told me "we know how to fix joints, but we don't know how to fix hearts". He meant that people should be more concerned about the damage done by lack of exercise than potential wear and tear to joints (though the inability to fix broken hearts applies in the more poetic sense as well). So, while i'm bummed about the limitations imposed by having an artificial hip, i'm also well aware that far worse things can happen.

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