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From Chapter 9, Stepping Up

Way back in 2004, during my annual physical, I told Dr. Liskow, “I’ve started having severe pain in my right hip, especially after I walk four or five miles. I even canceled plans to fly down to Orlando to walk another Walt Disney World Marathon with my brother. I hate to be a wimp, but I wonder if I should take some pain relievers.”

Dr. Liskow pressed my leg, telling me to push and pull. “Your legs are strong,” he remarked. “Did you fall? Any injuries?”

“No, it’s just sore after I walk longer distances,” I replied.

“Well, before we change any medication, let’s get some X-rays,” he suggested.

A few weeks later his nurse called. “Sandi, you have severe arthritis in your right hip. Dr. Liskow wants you to see an orthopedist as soon as possible.”

I went for my appointment, more curious than worried. Then, I got mad.

I am at my best with Arnie. I can also be at my worst.

I came home, storming, raging. “I am getting a second opinion. You won’t believe that doctor’s diagnosis! He said my hip was so deteriorated he didn’t even know how I was still able to walk. And then he had the nerve to tell me I need hip-replacement surgery! He’s just knife happy. He’s looking at me like I’m some feeble old lady. He didn’t even suggest physical therapy.” I finally stopped to take a breath.

Long pause. Arnie waited for me to calm down.

“Do you want me to do some research on another doctor?” Arnie offered.

Sandi Richmond, author of Milepost 75, steps.

“No!” I said, in determined denial. “I’ll just use more Bio-freeze and get a few more massages. It can’t possibly be as bad as he said.”

Arnie had two artificial knees and infinitely more perspective. “Did he show you the X-ray?” he quietly asked.

“Yes. It looked bad, but there’s no way I’m having my hip replaced,” I said adamantly. “I am too young. I’ve heard your range of motion gets totally destroyed. I’ll never be able to hike again. I’d rather live in pain. I can manage.”


I was just 60 years old and active, not a couch potato, and not a runner or a jumper. How could this happen to me? 


I held off for another year until my joint was so abscessed and immobile, I could barely walk, sit, or sleep. (I sure showed that orthopedist!)

I had the surgery on my right hip in April 2005, knowing my other joints were also breaking down. I learned some valuable lessons that helped me navigate the rest of my surgery years. First, I did not wait so long for the other three replacements. As soon as my quality of life began to suffer, I started the process. Second, I switched surgeons after my first surgery. Making this change was daunting, but I wanted one who was more proactive in terms of pre- and post-rehab.

Many people tell me, “It’s so impressive that you do so much climbing, hiking, and walking with four artificial joints.” But my artificial joints are my friends. I can’t imagine doing what I do without them. I’m lucky. I’m fortunate.

My mother struggled with arthritis and could barely walk by the time she was my age because her knees hurt so much. Joint replacement was not nearly as prevalent 25 years ago. I’m thankful for my metal joints! In fact, my four joint-replacement surgeries have also helped me develop some major resilience muscles as I went from hiking and walking at least 15-25 miles a week to hobbling 100 yards to the mailbox with a walker after each surgery.

I’m used to starting over at zero. I’ve had lots of practice.

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