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There were several ramifications of having a hip like this. At no point did I ever cease training in my martial arts, but I ended up coming up with a ton of really nasty close-range techniques. This was not by choice, since I would prefer to run, but being maimed precluded that. I therefore undertook thinking deeply about how I could use this to my advantage. Evening out the score, I realized, amounted to screwing up their legs and I have lots of fouling techniques that put the opponent effectively in the same condition as me pre-op. This makes quite an impression, to say the least. Now I can move, but I still insist that my students learn a lot of these, because I was betting the farm on them (relying heavily on them).

Post-op I've gone back to pretty much full-tilt training. In my interviews with McMinn and his patients I left no doubt that if they didn't take a mind to place limits, I would probably end up busting the implant. I took a solid year to come back to playing hard because I had to grow new bones. At the 2 year mark I had a bone density scan and while you can't see under the implant, everything around had certainly increased mass. I now toss 20-something college athletes around, a few of whom outweigh me by at least 100 pounds. I get tossed head over heels all the time. No problems.

I do not, however, run anyplace except an elliptical trainer. At least part of this is just in case for the hip, but my left knee, which was injured and reconstructed in 1984, is the limiting factor now. Running outside a few miles feels great on the hip, but the knee will stiffen and swell. I know that such inflammation will hasten the day I need a total knee replacement. If I run on an elliptical trainer though the knee is just fine.

One of the saddest things pre-op was that I couldn't play organ. I started as early as I could remember. I went to college and got an undergraduate in organ performance, so the fact that I couldn't bend enough to fit behind a console was extremely distressing. If you are an organist and have hip trouble, I know for a fact that a BHR does not impede you at all. Not sure about a THR... I'm back to shaking the rafters again.

While I was handicapped, I also got a chance to see life from that perspective. People are mean. I started school in Germany before I had problems. I did my work and graduated. I am very proud of that. I mean c'mon people, I did a Math. degree from start to finish in a foreign language. That's not easy. What I found on my return was that pre-op I was invisible. Being twisted and obviously handicapped meant that people ignore you mostly. There were also lots of dunderheaded applications of handicapped rules and regulations.

Another thing that drove me up the wall was the assumption that because my legs pointed the wrong way that I was stupid. Nothing and I do mean nothing bugged the Hell out of me like having all my hard work shrugged off. You see, when I'd tell folks in a professional setting that I'd gotten an advanced degree they'd give me a knowing smile. I was handicapped, therefore I had to have gotten it in some affirmative action program. The assumption of my idiocy was profoundly hurtful. This is an awful comment on the failure of affirmative action programs. The idea was to allow the competent but unjustly excluded to be given a chance. Now it is identical with letting in people who simply can't do it on their own. Sort of one of those honorable mentions given to the fat kid at summer camp to prop up his self-esteem.

Post-op, I lost a lot of weight and undertook a serious conditioning program. I just got sick and tired of, well, being sick and tired. Voila, I am back to being in top-notch condition and, frankly, look fabulous. I admit that this is something of a rebound effect from my previous condition. Now people come up to me and make chit-chat. Now when they find out I have an advanced degree they assume I'm smart. Sheesh.

My most recent gift to myself is doing something I've always wanted to do. I've taken up dancing tango and love it. This gives me a chance to put all that martial arts footwork to good use and, hey, it's all done in grappling range too! Seriously, tango is rather close to just walking and I figure that since I'm supposed to walk a lot, I ought to do it with some style...