I don’t think that I will ever get to the point where I announce to the world that I’m thrilled that I have OA. In my case, it has been necessary to go through 5 surgeries (so far). I’m fairly “tough”, but any form of surgery, particularly both total hip replacements, doesn’t rate real high on the list of adventures I simply must experience in this lifetime!
As I’m recuperating from the second hip surgery, I’ve had lots of time to think (not always a good place for me) and re-evaluate my goals. On a particularly painful day recently, the thought occurred to me that perhaps my life of wild and crazy adventures has come to a screeching halt. In wading through the kazillion travel and adventure catalogs that I receive, I noted that catalogs, and almost all trips had a “warning” stating that “this experience would not be appropriate for someone with mobility problems!” I found this comment to be very discouraging and perhaps not entirely realistic on their parts; particularly when they are not specific. I realize that physically, I probably will no longer be able to qualify for the Women’s Olympic Track teams, but there are tons of things I can, and will be able to do, particularly in a few months as I continue to heal and begin a program working with my physical trainer (with my surgeon’s blessing of course).
I’ve found that the key for me is to try to be realistic about my physical condition and accept what I can’t change, and sometimes even make necessary adjustments such as using the new paired hiking staffs that are awesome. I will “Go for the Gold!” Today, I walk just fine Thank You (far better than before the most recent surgery). I no longer have a limp or excruciating pain. At this point, I’m not exactly a speed demon, but who cares. I know that my doctor says racquetball, singles in tennis, jogging, and a few other minor restrictions have to be maintained, but there’s absolutely no reason to quit my adventures.
I looked at some of the exciting and challenging things I’ve done in the last 2 ½ years since the first total hip replacement: whitewater rafting, powered parachuting, doing a zipline, hiking up a small mountain in Tanzania, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing in Minnesota, and even sailing for a few days on a historic windjammer off the coast of Maine (oh—my surgeon did suggest that I probably shouldn’t try to climb the masts)! None of these activities were hampered by my mobility – or lack thereof.
After jogging in the annual Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis for several years—I felt a little
left out 2 years ago when it was time for the annual registration; however, we decided to
add a water component such as swimming or walking in the Lazy River at the same facility – something almost all could do and still be a participant in this special and very worthwhile event!
In addition, there is at least one adventure travel company that I’m aware of which will accept and make the necessary adaptations for people who have some mobility or other physical challenges. I have dealt with Wilderness Inquiry in MN before, and they are awesome at helping make adventure dreams a reality. For years, I’ve said that I would like to climb even a tiny part of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania as a celebration of my 65th birthday (two years from now). The quiet peace I felt on my first two trips to Africa makes me want to return for this challenge. I know that WI will probably have a trip there at that time to go at the pace that’s right for me!
So for me, it really is a matter of perspective – I love a “doable” challenge. Although I’m not able to stand for long periods at this point in my recovery, I have found that there’s a lot of things I can do while sitting. I’m knitting sweaters for two of my granddaughters. I’m finally organizing my photo files, something that was an intimidating task given several thousand prints (and to be honest, I can only work in short stints in order to maintain my sanity!) The Arthritis Foundation has lots of “sittable” tasks, and it’s great being out of the house and around others. I’m even planning a spring wildflower roadtrip with friends in Minnesota. Although I will be the first to admit that I’m not good at pacing myself and I do get tired, I am slowly getting better about my perspectives. I have more “Thanksgivings” than ever: a new hip, less pain, a supportive family and really wonderful friends. I am gradually learning to make the choices that are happier and healthier for me. No – I don’t want OA, but reality tells me I don’t have a choice. I will take time to smell the roses, feel the gentle breeze when I’m sailing, do the necessary workouts to help me become stronger, cuddle with my grandkids and enjoy a life of adventure – in spite of OA!!
Published On: November 21, 2006