Back Under the Knife

All of my life I’ve had to put up with pain. When you are my size and operate like a bull in a China shop, nicks, cuts, abrasions and pulled muscles just go with the territory. I used to think I was pretty tough. Pain was something to ignore—kind of like Patrick Swayze said in “Roadhouse,” “Pain don’t hurt.” However, during the past two or three years I have had quite an education in pain and what it can do to a guy.

Osteoarthritis is a 25-cent word for a damnable condition. It is a disease that features a breakdown and loss of joint cartilage and the bone(s) within a joint. Osteoarthritis is common among us “mature folks,” because it is partly the result of years of abuse of the joint. In essence, it’s a worn-out joint. If the affected joint is responsible for keeping one upright and allowing ambulation it can pretty well screw up your life, especially if your life centers on getting around in the outdoors.

As I write this, my left hip joint is completely trashed. The X-ray taken last Wednesday showed the ball of my femur looking somewhat like a moonscape, full of craters, pockmarks and such. There is zero cartilage left in the joint between my leg and my pelvis. The femur is wallowing around like a pea in a basketball, and every step I take scrapes a little more bone from my pelvis. Unlike nicks, cuts, abrasions and pulled muscles, this condition can never get better or heal. Standing—let alone walking—hurts like hell. I cannot walk even across a room without a cane. Painkillers have kept me from scraping the paint off the ceiling, but my body has developed such a tolerance toward them that they no longer do much good. I am literally half a step from being confined to a wheelchair.

Like I said, it’s a damnable condition. As you can imagine this has put quite a hitch in my giddy-up. Nothing happens in one’s life that does not affect the other aspects in that life. Not to overstate it or be melodramatic, but if it were not because of my faith, suicide would look like a viable option. Fortunately, I don’t even have to consider that.

Wednesday morning I will be undergoing a total hip replacement. This isn’t my first one; I had my right hip replaced 11 years ago. The technology and techniques have evolved significantly during the past decade, and the recovery time has been shortened greatly. I’m almost as giddy as a kid on his birthday about getting back out and doing even some of the most basic things. Some may recall that nearly a year ago I had back surgery. This was another osteoarthritic condition. I have been telling folks that my transmission is blown and that I am dealing with it via the Johnny Cash method, one piece at a time.

This little macabre insight into my private world is an explanation as to why I have been rather derelict in writing regular blogs. I am eager—excited—at the thought of getting back out shooting, hunting, fishing, fooling around in my shop and more and sharing those experiences. Thank you for your patience.

Dave Campbell
Dave Campbell began his hunting career with a spear off the southern California coast in the late 1960s. It did not take long for him to graduate to the gun on land. Campbell is the founding editor in chief of the NRA’s tremendously successful Shooting Illustrated magazine. In 2006 he also edited the iconic book of terminal ballistics, Rifle Bullets for the Hunter—A Definitive Study. He returned to his beloved Wyoming in 2007 as a freelance writer, though he usually refers to himself now as a “recovering editor.”
  1. Glenn Reply

    All the best for you operation. I hope you get perfect results and recover quickly!
    Glenn

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