Going Under The Knife, Part 2

AJW's TaproomBack in September of 2015, I underwent hip-resurfacing surgery on my left hip. I wrote about the decision to do so in this article. Then, I wrote three follow-up articles at one month post-operation, two months later, and a year after the fact.

During my follow-up appointment a year after surgery, my surgeon asked me how my right hip felt as the images indicated cam impingement and evidence of moderate osteoarthritis. At the time, I told him it hurt occasionally but that the pain was manageable. He suggested I monitor the pain and that, given my level of activity, I could expect the possibility of needing, at some point, to return to South Carolina for right-hip resurfacing as well.

I went on my merry way, proceeding to run two 100 milers in 2017 and then beginning what I hoped would be a successful build-up to the 2018 Hardrock 100. Along the way, however, the pain in my right hip worsened. It was a familiar, stabbing pain at the joint line, but I attempted to will it away as a strained hip flexor and forged on. Eventually, this past January, I concluded that something needed to be done. After a cortisone shot and an extended period of rest, I returned to running and enjoyed a few good weeks before succumbing to crippling hip pain once again. I knew then, it was time.

I sent my x-rays off to Dr. Thomas Gross last month. Last week, he called and we had a long conversation. Indeed, he confirmed, as he had done three years earlier for my left hip, that I was a candidate for hip resurfacing and he felt that given my age, health, and activity level, assuming I worked my ass off in rehab, I could expect a full recovery and a return to long-distance running. Four days later, the surgery date was set, April 9th.

What swiftly followed was a swirl of emotions, for sure, as this meant no Hardrock and a long, hard road of recovery ahead. And yet, even in the midst of the emotions, something in me felt confident and steadfast. For some reason, this time, the decision was easy and straightforward, much like a lot of what I’ve learned about life through over two decades of running. It seems to me that the more experiences we have with adversity, the more we struggle through the dark times in search of lighter times, the more we make decisions to propel us toward the best versions of ourselves, the better we become. With this decision, I had no choice but to believe I was becoming better.

Dear Taproom friends, wish me luck! I hope to come out of this surgery stronger and more complete. Succumbing to chronic pain is hard, as it goes against my better nature. But I am not getting any younger and running is immensely important to me. Of course, my non-running friends sometimes look askance at me and ask, “Is it worth it?” To which I, of course, respond, “You bet it is!”

You see, running is not just what I do, it’s who I am. In order to continue to be my best self, I sometimes need to make the hard decisions and face the consequences. This is most certainly one of the tougher ones I’ve made, but in the end I have to believe that it will make all the difference.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Ouray, Colorado along the Hardrock course. There is a great little nano-brewery there called Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewing Company. I first stumbled into Mr. Grumpy Pants with Bryon Powell after a particularly long day of training back in 2016. Mr. Grumpy Pants likes to keep things simple so they have six beers all with clever names like “Amber” and “Pale Ale.” If you ask for a taster, Mr. Grumpy Pants will serve it up in a baby bottle, complete with the nipple and everything! Nonetheless, Mr. Grumpy Pants’s take on an IPA, called “India Pale Ale” is particularly good and well worth sampling. Don’t expect friendly service, just good, honest, fresh beer!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Are there other runners out there who have had hip resurfacing and who would like to share what they’ve learned through this surgery?
  • How about other recurrent major injuries or health issues, have you had them? How did your approaches to them change when they recurred?