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March 3, 2019
I've been a bit of a jock since my teen years. Not a great athlete, but a very competitive one, always looking for ways to improve my game -- or at least my gear. Over the years I made many friends on the soccer fields, ice rinks and mountain bike trails of Minnesota. I was still enjoying a wide range of physical activities well into my 50's. Then, one by one, I was forced to abandon them as increasing hip pain and decreasing range of motion took their toll. I gave up downhill skiing in 2014. Put away my inline skates in 2015. Did my last mountain bike circuit in 2016. Completed my last road bike commute in 2017.
Last year I had to quit the sport that has given me the most joy (and likely the major cause of my hip joint deterioration). I've been playing hockey since grade school. Stopped pucks for four years at the Academy of Holy Angels and made the St. John's University varsity as a freshman. I played on and off for the next few decades, then rediscovered the game in my mid-40's. I began playing two or three times a week, year round. I had to relearn my position, adopting the butterfly style of goal tending, to accommodate new equipment and keep up with the mostly younger and more skilled players. It was great fun to share this passion with friends and family.
Then, last year, it became more difficult to hold the V-stance and even harder to get up after dropping into the butterfly. And the hip pain grew more acute. It was affecting my daily life - it was difficult to get in and out of cars, difficult to put on shoes, difficult to get down on the floor and play with my grandson. On a brother's recommendation, I met with Dr. Scott Anseth at TCO in July. He found serious deterioration in both hip joints. I needed total hip arthroplasties.
Dr. Anseth replaced my left hip in early December 2019; the right hip about seven weeks later. The surgeries went very well. I was up on my feet, walking with the aid of a walker, within a few hours after the anesthesia wore off. Began taking the stairs without a cane within a few days. Was off most of the pain meds and back at work a few days later.
Rehab went smoothly. Within three weeks of each surgery, I was playing pickleball, a less physically demanding sport I'd taken up last summer to stay fit. Within six weeks, I was back on the ice, taking the first few careful strides toward my ultimate post-surgery goal: playing hockey on my 60th birthday in June.
For now I am content to be working toward that goal. I've been playing pickleball a few times a week since early March. On a trip to Luxembourg last month, I enjoyed several all-day hikes and one glorious morning on a rented mountain bike. I dusted off my inline skates and road bike and went for a few spins last week. Whether or not I am able to achieve my hockey dream this summer, it's great to be pain-free and back in the game.