Last updated: May 02, 2008
I first woke up with pain on June 1, 2006. It was 10 days after I had run San Francisco's Bay to Breakers [a 12K run] with my college roommate, faster than we had run it 30 years earlier. It was as if God were giving me one last moment of athletic greatness before shutting me down.
The orthopedist said the hip is like the tread of a tire. When it wears out, there's nothing you can do. You have cartilage between your leg and your pelvis and when it's used up, like mine was, it's gone. He said my left leg had 25% left, but my right was all gone.
Despite the pain, I delayed surgery
If you ask my wife, she would say I'm out of my mind. She would say it's because I'm stoic.
It was about the point where it woke me up every night three or four times. The two hours standing at a cocktail party were so agonizing that I would ask people, "Could you sit down with me?" I couldn't walk across town anymore. I couldn't wash my feet in the shower. Hip patients have real trouble reaching their ankles and their feet. It was degrading in so many ways. I felt about 90 years old.
Taking a toll on my emotional life
You don't realize it day by day. You realize it every few months, when you see how your life has been diminished. It's not like I was grouchy with my family… But you're in so much pain, you don't have the energy to do other things and you say no, in times when you would normally say yes. Your life starts shrinking. Opportunities you would have taken, you let goand your world gets smaller and smaller.
I said, "Sir, how many of these have you done?" And he said "Over ten thousand." And I said, "That's impossible, that means you've done one every business day since 1967." And he said "That's right, I started in 1967."
I said "Sir, it's going to cost my employer a fortune to pay for this, and I'm going to be out of work for a month. I can't do this to my employer, and I can't do this to myself. Do them both at once. I'm vigorous enough."
First post-op order of business: Sit up in bed
The day after surgery, they say, "OK, let's see if you can sit up at the side of your bed." I have run three marathons. I once portaged a birch bark canoe with one other 14-year-old kid one mile through six inches of mud. Nothing compared with how hard trying to sit up in bed was. I pretty much fainted.
God forbid this ever happens to you. But if you are vigorous and you are determined and you are optimistic and full of life, it does make it easier to get through these things.