Sunday, October 21, 2012

The End of an Era

Nan sprinting for the finish line
Nan has been running for 35 years. From March through November, you'll find her entering a race almost every weekend. And she does well, placing in the top three in her age division more often than not. She has boxes full of ribbons and trophies, and she can recite her best times at distances ranging from 5K to full marathons. In 2003, she ran in the New York City Marathon. She considers it the crowning achievement of her long running career.

Now it's all coming to an end. Osteoarthritis and endless miles have taken their toll. Nan has used up all the cartilage in her hip joints, leaving her in a bone-on-bone condition of constant pain. On Friday, she will undergo bilateral hip replacement surgery to replace her damaged hip joints with new bionic ones. The procedure is invasive and involves the removal of the tops of her femurs and the sockets of her hip joints. The prosthetic replacements are designed so that the remaining bone grows solidly and securely around them. Full recuperation normally takes up to twelve weeks, though she should be able to walk out of the hospital under her own power after a four-day recovery period.

Nan's new hips will relieve her pain, but they will not withstand the impact of running. She will need to give up running in favor of low-impact activities such as bicycling and swimming. She says it will be worth it, but you can sense her regret.

The photo above shows Nan in a final sprint to the finish line of the Boogie's Buddy 5, an annual Fourth of July race in Aspen, Colorado. She's not sure of the year, but it was probably taken at least ten years ago.

Please keep Nan in your thoughts this week as she prepares for her life-changing experience.

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