Tuesday, September 30, 2014


I finally got through to the doctor's office today. It's been a frustrating, week-long game of phone tag -- for them and for me. I was in a couple weeks ago, had the x-rays, talked to the doc who used words like "congenital dysplasia" and said he'd be glad to give me a cortisone shot that would make my hip feel better for a couple weeks, but that's a temporary solution.

I've been limping on and off for a few years. Sunday mornings at church with all those hours of standing on concrete floors have been killers for me. (I'm definitely in the wrong line of work, right?) During those years of intermittent hip pain I've raced mountain bikes, jogged for miles, bowhunted from tree stands in the northern Minnesota swamps and while hiking up and down buttes in the North Dakota badlands. Not bad.

This summer my hip has been getting worse. So I finally started trying stuff. Some of you have heard rumors that I even attempted yoga. It's true. I submitted to the attentions of a chiropractor and a massage therapist, all in attempts to try to figure out what's going on. Along the way, my excellent chiropractor happened to mention that "if you have bone spurs or any kind of hip issue, all the massage and chiropractic in the world won't do you any good. So let me give you the name of an amazing orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hip issues. He can check you out."

When I saw this great doctor -- and I really believe he is, in part because he takes vacations in Tanzania and does scads of hip replacement surgeries there, giving life back to a whole lot of people who would otherwise remain crippled -- his first words were encouraging. "Your knees look great." But then he went on to describe my congenitally dysplasiatic hips and say, "You'll eventually need hip surgery."

So, I asked, who decides when it's time for surgery?

"You do," he said. "When the pain gets so bad you want the surgery, we can do it. Basically it will probably happen when you can't sleep at night."


So guess who hasn't been sleeping well lately? The last several nights it's taken hours of tossing and turning to finally get to a point where I can drift off deep enough that hip twinges don't wake me up again. Then the alarm goes off way too early.

So part of the adventure has been watching an online video of a hip replacement surgery. Not exactly what I'm going to have done, but pretty close. Fascinating. It reminds me of butchering the hindquarter of a deer, something I'm quite familiar with.

I called in to reserve my particular date on the operating table. Seems a little weird.

It also makes me incredibly thankful, when I dig into various kinds of hip surgery and realize just how far this technology has come in the last few years. Pretty amazing.

In the meantime, though, I spent a few days last week limping carefully through the woods up north, carrying my new Black Widow recurve and looking for whitetails. I climbed in and out of a few tree stands, and came within a few seconds of arrowing a nice eight-point buck. It was a good trip in the fall woods.

Recovery time will keep me from doing much hunting later in the season. I might miss my annual New Year's Eve celebration on my deer stand. So I'll have to try to make good use of October, before my surgery is scheduled.

I don't have much for deep ponderings about all this, except to say that I'm spending time lately thinking about how it affects people (me in particular) to live with pain, and how God uses that pain to shape us in ways we probably don't want to be shaped. Holiness, not happiness, right?

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