It’s been more than half a year since I last wrote a blog post. I can’t believe that. I decided to stop blogging sometime last year because I wanted this blog to be about hiking, and not about injuries or recovering from surgery. But, I think it’s time for an update and my first blog post of the year, and I promise there will be hiking involved!
First of all, in November of last year I did wind up going through with the crazy hip surgery that I mentioned in an earlier blog post (Periacetabular Osteotomy, or PAO for short). I traveled to Boston for the surgery. Then, one of the top surgeon’s in the field broke my pelvis into pieces, re-positioned it, and screwed it back together again. Here’s a pretty x-ray:
After surgery, I spent about 3 months on crutches and several more months going to PT trying to build back some muscle and flexibility and generally struggling with not being back to normal. And I’m still not normal. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not reminded of that. The sad news is, I’m going to have to go through this all over again with the other hip in the fall of this year. The good news is, I’m back to hiking again in the meanwhile.
Even though I summed that experience up in just a few sentences, you can probably imagine that it was probably the hardest thing I have ever gone though. Harder than any thru-hike, no doubt. Not being able to walk, not being able to hike, not being able to see an end to being stuck in a recliner next to a pair of crutches was draining me of my optimism. When doctors told me it would take 6 months to a year to be back to ‘normal’, I kept thinking “They mean for normal couch-potato-type people. Of course, I’m special, I’m used to hiking 20-30 miles a day. I’ll be back to normal in no time”. Well, guess what? I was wrong. I have been humbled beyond belief. For the first time in my life I got excited when I could lift my leg off the ground using my very own leg muscles (yes, my muscles were that messed up). I would celebrate going up a flight of stairs, and I would push myself to get out on my crutches and experience nature. All the while, I was gaining weight and tried my best not to care about it.
I started going for small hikes, I graduated from two crutches to one, then to a cane, then to hiking poles. I hiked 1.5 miles then 2 miles then 3 miles, then 4.5 miles then 10 miles. Some if those hikes I regretted it for up to a week afterwards when my muscles tendons and joints struggled to keep up with me.
In the meantime, I got a job offer from Jennifer Pharr Davis to help her not only as a hiking guide, but also to help manage and run her whole hike-guiding company, Blue Ridge Hiking Company. I couldn’t say no. Hiking for a living? Yes, please!
So 2016 is off to a good start, even though there’s another surgery on the horizon, I’m going to do all the hiking I can this year. Maybe I’ll even do more blogging/writing as well. I really enjoyed working with the PCTA last year writing a “Southbound Adventure” for their Communicator Magazine, and also helping them to rewrite the information on their webpage on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail Southbound. It looks like more and more people are headed from Canada to Mexico on the PCT, and I hope some of the information I was able to provide to folks online has been a help.
Here’s to more hiking, more writing and living life to the fullest in 2016!!