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I'm in the TOP FIVE!

I’m now left in the position in which I have nothing left to do but think.

I’m only able to contemplate and over-think and over-analyze all of the orbiting surgical particulars to come over the next several weeks.

What if this happens? What if that happens?

How will I bathe? How will I sleep? How will I even sit?

How long will it be before I can drive myself to the liquor store?

How will it feel to walk again without chronic pain and agony?

Am I going to have to learn to walk all over again?

But the most over-analyzed part of this whole surgery for me is “How much will be too much when it’s over?

Quite honestly, I’ve come to realize that I have zero control ability when it comes to my physical condition. I lost that years ago, most likely due to my overwhelming ability to absorb such heightened levels of debilitating pain.

I used to look at it is a badge of honor – just how much pain I could endure. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with long distance running in the first place – the total control my will could exert and hold over my physical body.

It’s not a glamorous thing or any sort of intentional bravado, but it is the way I grew myself over the last thirty years. It’s all I know.

I do find it most interesting that my mind is capable of controlling damn near everything else in my world.

One day many years ago, I decided I was done smoking cigarettes, so with a four-pack-of Marlboro-Menthols-a-day habit, I quit. And I was able to turn my back on cigarettes and never light another. To be fair, I do enjoy a good cigar, but it’s a night and day difference. Any inhalation is secondary and I maybe have two or three in a week’s time in the summer and I can go through all the winter months without a single one. But cigarettes? No. I decided I was done and that was that.

Alcohol is the same way. It’s no secret that I love my whisky, and I also enjoy vodka and gin and beer, too, whenever the mood for each may strike me. But when I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough and I dry myself out until I feel ok with it again. One time, I dried out for over two years. I had zero desire for any kind of alcohol. And then one day, I felt like having a beer, so I did, That was that.

It’s a mystery to me how I’m able to fend off a couple of the most addictive and destructive habits possible, seemingly at will, but when it comes to my physical-body-in-motion, I can’t find a modicum of control and I ignore the same pains and wants that allow me to stop smoking or drinking!

My physical condition has now deteriorated to the point where even my cane only helps me so much. I can barely lift my feet from the ground to walk. I scuffle. It’s strange because I can manually lift each leg up, but I don’t have the balance or the strength left to lift them on their own and without bracing my body with both hands. This was my first wake-up call.

And I heard that call loud and clear when I got that jury duty summons a few months ago. I still think it’s funny that that one simple, everyday-common occurrence is what jarred me from square one. The whole jury duty thing is a another story, but suffice it to say that it was a pivotal moment in my stubborn and bullheaded life.

And the ball rolled on from there. The more I learned and heard and witnessed, the wider my eyes finally opened.

And then came the appointment with the “Orthopedic Specialist”. Even then, when I saw ‘specialist’ as opposed to ‘surgeon’, I thought, “Well maybe I won’t have to get cut after all.”

I still saw my condition as something that I could overcome if I only had the right direction.

I was such a fool! Admittedly, I was such a fool!

These are some of the comments I heard during that appointment. And of course, that was no consult or simple appointment. It was a preparatory appointment intended to begin the surgical process.

From the surgeon:

“I can see you’re tough, no doubt, but you can’t stay tough forever. You destroyed your hips. Stupid runner.”

“Your films are horrible, just horrible (as he held his face in his hands, shaking his head).”

“After 30 yrs, of performing hip replacements, your hips are in the TOP 5 WORST HIPS I have ever seen!”

“You want to know your options? Ok. You only have two that will end the pain and the damage you are causing yourself. First, I can give you a total hip replacement in each hip OR you can die. There are no other options available to you that will end the pain and the destruction. Since my office does not offer euthanasia, I can only operate on you, but I can fix your hips as good as they can be fixed now.”

That last quote was pretty sobering to hear said out loud. But sometimes, that’s what it takes for a thoroughly stubborn mind to kick into gear. The old me might have argued – at least a little bit – but in that moment, I couldn’t do anything other than agree with him – and agree with everything he said about me.

And…he inadvertently gave me a new mantra and battle-cry:

Give Me Surgery or Give Me Death!

At least with that I can maintain some sense of my years-old ingrained and self-imposed will to succeed and persevere.

When the appointment was ending, a nurse came in and asked which hip I wanted done first. I told her the left hip – the one with the injury that started it all over thirty years ago. She said, “I knew it!” and went on to tell me that the nurses were trying to get the doctors to bet on which leg I wanted to cut up first and she had ‘left’. She would have won.

Sadly, she went on to tell me that the surgery schedule was already out to next October – almost a year out there! What else could I do at that point but hop into the rotation?

Things moved into high gear after that.

I found the reports and notes on the medical app including this oh-so-sobering diagnosis upon further review of x-rays:

Once again, those x-rays, including AP pelvis AP and lateral of each hip reveal severe arthrosis with total joint collapse and obliteration of the joint space.

I don’t do anything half-assed.

And then, out of nowhere, I got bumped up on the schedule from next October to Feb!

And now the pregame stretch has begun.

And now, the final questions rolling back and forth in my mind are these:

“How much pain will I now have to endure under strict medical controls?”


“How will I be able to gage what is too much after my surgeries?”

I know what I’m capable of withstanding and it’s come back to smack me across the face for my efforts. I think my own control will be the greatest pain within my recovery.

I keep telling myself, “Give Me Surgery or Give Me Death!

I keep working hard to hold myself back from excessive and unnecessary over-thinking.

But at the same time, I think, “I’m in the TOP FIVE!”

I’m back on top! Sure, it’s a twisted view and a most dubious way to get there, but I am on top once again and that is how I have to deal with it.

Go big or go home, Baby!


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