Rob's Blog Archive

April 1, 2012

April Fools Day










April 1, 2008, I went from being a cripple to being able to do anything I wanted. 

I first saw x-rays of my hip and learned how bad it was mid March, 2007.  I had just completed 1,800 miles of mushing including Race to the Sky.   One cm bone spurs and a joint that had clearly been bone on bone for a long time dumbfounded the surgeon.

By that time, I had started planning on doing the 2008 Iditarod.  Finding out then that I needed hip replacement surgery didn’t give me enough time to decide on a surgery, schedule it, have it, and recover before I had to start preparing for the race.  I decided to just suck it up and see how far I got.

Everything ended in Yentna Station on the Klondike 300 in January, 2008.  Warm wet snow fell constantly and walking on the soft irregular surface irritated my hip more than anything else.  At Yentna, I had the gait of an old man slowly wobbling and stepping no more than a foot forward at a time.  Iditarod wasn’t happening.  A few weeks later, I scheduled the surgery for April 1.  To this day, I have no clue how I made it to Yentna.  

It is the fourth anniversary of my surgery.  Going from that pain to doing anything may not technically be a miracle, but it seems like one.  I can run.  I can jump.  I can climb.  I can ski. I can even walk on fresh unconsolidated snow until I’m exhausted and not feel any pain. 

But what has really shown me how fortunate I am is seeing friends whose luck was not as good.  I often wish I could share a little of my good luck with them.  I have one friend who has M.S.  Thankfully, he’s not in any pain, but I know he misses being on the runners.  His condition looks to me to be deteriorating, but slowly---something I’m sure he’s thankful for.  I think he goes to bed at night at least knowing that when he was able to walk freely, he got off his ass and did things---a lot actually.  I hope he sleeps well knowing this.  I have another friend, a college mate who has ALS.  He went from running marathons to a wheel chair almost as fast as if it were from an auto accident rather than a degenerative disease.  Reading how he and his wife are coping with this is inspirational.  Mushing with 1 cm bone spurs doesn’t show up in the same chapter, no less on the same page.  And, as a 56 year old, the list of friends and acquaintances who have been much less lucky than me continues. 

Not that my life is all joy and pleasure.  The two men mentioned above are happily married.  I’m alone---something I had not planned on.  I’m sure that, had surgery not been available, accepting the arthritis in my hip would have been no harder than accepting being alone was. 

But with the anniversary of my surgery, I’m thinking about my hip and my good luck with it, focusing on good things not bad like the fact that I can run, and kick, and jump, and play chase with my dogs.  On April Fools Day, 2008, I went from being a cripple to at least imitating an athlete.  April Fools Day is a good day for me. 

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