Hip party only one month away.

I’ve had hip arthritis for three and a half years now, with the last four months being diabolically horrible. I’ve done so much research on what to get, who to get it from, what the risks are and how I should weigh those risks up. I’ve seen several Orthopods for advice and perspective, I’ve focused on my health and my contribution to a good outcome, dreamed of going for a walk or a run with my beautiful wife, walk my boxer dog Claude, chase my two little girls around, put my socks on without having to dislocate my shoulders for extra reach… the list is long. It’s quite consuming to say the least.

I have never met Professor Bill in person, today that changes. I’d compare this feeling I’m having sitting on the plane to Sydney, to that of meeting your all time favourite musician or sport star. (Les Claypool or Nino Schurter being mine) I’m very much looking forward to that surreal feeling evolving into reality as I edge closer to the 25th of February, surgery day.

I was also welcomed today with the news that former Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray, yesterday had a hip resurfacing in London. With all of the research that I have done, with all of the Professors and Surgeons I have spoken to, I could not believe that Andy has received a metal on metal resurfacing, I would have loved to see him rocking a new ceramic on ceramic number. What an incredible user case study it will be. There is no doubt that he will be back playing professional tennis and at 31, will undoubtably return to the top 4. Will he win a major? Time will tell.

I did expect that he would be a bit more cutting edge, a bit more, ‘I wonder if I can fly?’ and in essence, a bit more ceramic. I’m so convinced after my research that ceramic on ceramic will give me the best outcome, I couldn’t believe a guy like Andy didn’t end up where I had… that is, with the conclusion that ceramic is the best choice. What I have learned over the last few weeks from again, more research, is, it is the surgeon him or herself that makes the difference. The lowest possible impact on soft tissue, the angle the device is placed in the hip joint and of course, the device itself has a huge role. At the end of the day it’s a combination of three pillars that contribute to excellent outcomes. Surgeon experience. Device development. Patient commitment.

As a patient, I believe I am in the drivers seat and hold the most accountability of each pillar. Stay healthy, stay lean, muscular strength and elasticity around the hips and supply ongoing feedback to the other two pillars to ensure further development. I found some crazy examples of commitment on YouTube yesterday. This one guy, here has a double replacement. The video is so worth watching from start to finish. What a journey. Just awesome.

Trying to look beautiful riding at the moment as opposed to riding fast!

It felt exactly how it should feel.

On Thursday the 29th of November 2018 I was ready to go for one of the most important job interviews of my life. That job interview was my first meeting with Professor Bill Walter Jr and Clinical Consultant Lyn McDonald. As with any job interview you need to be very prepared, especially when you really need that job.

I had been anxious all day. Fair enough given this would be turning point in my life. Bill and Lyn had agreed to interview me over the phone as a ‘first consultation’. Pretty handy as it saved my $600 in flights to Sydney. I had reserved a meeting room at work and sat patiently for them to call me at 4pm. By 4:15pm I was still waiting and started to think the worst… Sydney had exploded. Tidal Wave. Chemical attack and whatnot. So I thought I had better call them and luckily it was just the previous patient taking a bit longer to meet with, they would call me back shortly…

After my unnecessary mild panic attack, the phone rang and it was Professor Bill and Lyn.

I’ve had two successful job interviews in my life. My first was with Telstra for whom I still work and thoroughly enjoy. My other was with Bill and Lyn. In both interviews, I knew exactly what I wanted and new exactly why that was a good thing for all involved. I think the word, purpose sums it up. For example…

Purpose: I believe I can be a role model for others in my situation.

How will I deliver on that purpose?

  • I will communicate my experiences and insights through sharing my journey.
  • I will stay lean and healthy while pursing an exciting lifestyle.
  • I will embrace innovation where it makes sense.
  • I will not compromise on the above.
  • I will be honest.

So with that in mind, I shared the next 30 minutes with Bill and Lyn on the phone. We discussed who I was, what the technology was, the history of metal on metal implants and the evolution that is ceramic on ceramic. We discussed the recent reports from the ABC that featured failing implants and the TGA’s inability to protect Australians. We also discussed how the items they were covering have absolutely nothing to do with what we were trying to achieve. That is, to safely bring me back to being who I am by using a brilliant evolution of a proven technique. When Bill mentioned that I was ideal for the trial, I confirmed back to him, ‘I believe I am the ideal candidate, that my brain was sore from all the research and I am comfortable with the risks’, referencing Professor Justin Cobb’s UK trial for the H1, similar to the ReCerf (Both ceramic on ceramic resurfacing) that Bill would be using as means for comfort.

The interview, became a conversation. Exactly how it should feel.

Sold. Commitment. Absolute joy running through my veins as both he and Lyn confirmed I would be the next for this trial. Locking in the 25th of February 2019 for surgery in Sydney. Naturally, the first thing I did was call Anushka with the news. Tears all round. Xx.

Running

Preview – I spent my hole life thinking I couldn’t run. Then I discovered I could and that it was something I wanted to get to know more and more… 

In 2015, I started to embrace Multi-Sport racing. I started small, by racing the Summer Survival. A race held each summer around Kingston in Southern Tasmania. The one day race consists of a 10km ocean paddle, a 30km hilly Time Trial, a 20km Mountain Bike Ride and finishes with a 10km run. The venue is fantastic. Paddling at the upper mouth of the southern ocean, riding past the Allum Cliffs and running along beaches and challenging cliff line trails. 

After this race. I took a short hiatus from racing and focused on family and work. In truth, my hiatus was due to a lack of passion for racing, not because ‘family and work’. I did however, maintain a passion for ocean paddling, for which I raced most Tuesday nights and paddled probably 3 or 4 times a week. Anyway, yes, running.

In 2016 I started to go running. I started small with mainly 5km runs then jumping up to 10km runs. I was surprised as to how much I liked it as I had always positioned running to be a bit boring. A bit like swimming. Staring at the black line for 30mins… Here is my satisfaction formula:

Fitness + technique = swimming

Fitness + technique + combat + excitement = Tennis, Soccer and football.

Fitness + technique + exhilaration + combat + excitement + adventure = Mountain Biking, Ocean Skiing, Surfing 

I’m going to stop talking event related motivation for now and focus on the feeling that running delivered for me. I’ll sugarcoat the hell out of it just for you I promise.

Running for me was split into three categories. None were my favourite, each was special.

Swimming for sanity

Swimming is an activity you do when partially submerged in water. In Australia, swimming often occurs in beautiful outdoor ocean pools, or open air swimming pools. These pools offer a great connection with nature. Being submerged in water and with the sun on your back, it’s actually quite nice. Alternatively, ocean swimming, river swimming and… lake swimming? And then there are indoor swimming venues, like the Doone Kennedy Aquatic Centre in Hobart…

If you like 1 part clourine and 3 parts luke-warm water, and human piss, then indoor ‘Olympic’ venues are for you! Oh what a joy indoor swimming centres are. It’s like walking into a low grade fragrance factory or a not so secret meeting place for fatties.

Olympic venues cater for everyone. Adults pools, diving pools, children’s pools. Of course right next to the children’s pools are cafeterias so mum and dad can chow down on hot chips and thickened milk drinks. Woohoo! It’s also a great opportunity to slowly onboard their kids into obesity. Well played fatties! Also, well played Hobart City Council for capturing high margin sales! Like, what’s the cost of a bag of hot chips make you? About 8.6 Billion dollars a year?

I digress, well not really. Once you make your way through the jungle of pork and suicidal looking staff members trapped inside this bio-dome without a leaf or flower in sight, you enter the change rooms. Let the fun begin! Now if there was ever a market for second hand bandaids or pubic hair, you can stock up quickly and easily right here. My darkest memory at the pool was the moment when I was exiting the change room at pace and enjoyed the view of an elderly gnome, bending over naked with butt hole and wait, wait, is that? Yes, yes they are hemorrhoids. Bonus! Wow I enjoyed taking that vision with me over the next 1500 meters in our flagship Olympic pool.

Safe to say, swimming is a means to an end for me. I do appreciate I am extremely lucky to be able to swim at all. I’ve actually become fond of outdoor swimming at the regional ‘less fancy’ pools. Even though swimming lacks the excitement component that cycling, running, tennis, football etc do offer, it does replicate that lost connection with ‘mums tummy’ as we float round surrounded by liquid. It’s unique and for that, it certainly gets the tick of approval all bandaid and hairy bottom stories aside.

 

To obese or not to obese.

Image: Me not being a fatty.

One of my favourite comedic moments of all time comes from Ricky Gervais and his insanely accurate portrait of fatties. Google it. ‘it’s a disease… no it isn’t!’ and so on. I find obesity extremely frustrating. I was a child fatty. The fattest at school. I remember smashing hot chips, chocolate, caramel… what ever I could get my mouth around. I was a kid who didn’t have it properly articulated to me that, calories in must = calories out, or you will ultimately need two seats on the bus. ‘Just a ticket for one thanks driver!’

As an ex-fatty, I know it isn’t a disease. It’s a choice and once you understand that it’s your choice then there really is no excuse. People jump up and down about all sorts of things. I’m just going to briefly but passionately jump up and down about this! If it didn’t have such a huge impact on everything then whatever. But, it does. So let’s have a look at some pretty simple examples…

  • Obese people cost Australia around $8.6 Billion in healthcare per year.
  • 2 of 3 adults in Australia are obese people. This is really really sad.
  • Obese people brush their own teeth. Drive their own cars. Pay their own bills. Choose their own meals. Have access to mirrors, scales, logic and the word NO.
  • We are on the brink of a world food supply crisis. Perhaps eat for one instead of 4? Surely a good start.
  • Orthopaedic surgeons would rather work on non-obese people for a plethora of reasons.
  • 1kg of extra weight equals 3kgs on a hip or 5kgs on a knee. Wait… what did you say???!!!

There is a brilliant show on the ABC called, Health Report. It is hosted by the wonderful one and only, Norman Swan. In July 2017 he had David Hunter (Professor of Rheumatology at teh University of Sydney and Royal North Shore Hospitals in to discuss managing osteoarthritis. See my links page for the transcript, it is truly insightful. One thing that stands out is the statement around 1kg = 3kgs of pressure on a hip. If this isn’t a gigantic elephant in the room i’m not sure what is. Even at 5kgs over weight, that is 15kgs on a hip. This is huge.

I know from my current, extremely uncomfortable position that carrying my 1yr old baby around is almost un-manageable. So how would I function, at all, if I were personally 10kgs over weight? Simple… I wouldn’t. And so the cycle of fact continues. Obese people are putting immense pressure on endless facets of their own lives (remember I was super fatty until starting teen years) our health care systems, our global food supply systems and well again, this list is and can be extremely long.

As a professional in a big corporate, we are inundated with information and insight about things, whatever they may be. The problem is, insight is nothing without experience. Most fatties have forgotten what it is like to be, not a fatty, so where is the experience? So all this stuff about being lean and heathy sounds kinda cool, but who cares? Well I do! Why? Because I have personal insight into being a fatty and being fit and lean. I have an understanding of how much better you feel when you are lean. What it allows you to do, feel, see and experience. It’s truly life changing.

It’s great to have real information about eating balanced food and doing some exercise. In theory it appears to be so easy to be not-obese. I mean, isn’t it? Seriously, what is all the fuss about? Do this, do that, eat this vitamin. Visit this doctor, visit this website, take these pills, get this operation, seven minute abs? Really? I feel like i’m taking crazy pills! How bout none of that. Usually, obesity is the outcome of something else anyway.

Self believe. Self worth. ‘I’m fat who cares’ Bullshit, you should care. You should care. You need to find what it is that makes you doubt yourself. Doubt your ability, doubt your capacity to be anything more than a fatty and tackle that beast. If you treat yourself as well as you treat your best friend or close family member, you would never be in this predicament.

My doubt stemmed from my dad never giving me compliments, or telling me ‘yes you can’ so naturally, I spend that time believing… no I can’t. Luckily for me, I broke that flaw and was able to develop self worth, self belief. Noted I don’t want to speak badly of my dad. He was fantastic. Just not good at the old ‘Go John go!!!’ game.

My advice, find a passion. Find something that needs you to be healthy. Then, not so magically… obesity will take care of itself. Perhaps while you are there it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to peel a carrot and steam some vegetables for a few minutes. If you’re totally clueless and thing protein bars and health shakes will keep you thin, then I recommend getting a big glass of reality and pick up on these learned facts.

  • If it comes in a wrapper. It’s probably full of junk
  • Soft drinks and sports drinks are truly evil
  • Beer is full of sugar. It will keep you fat and sad. Sorry, fact.
  • Vegetables are your friends. You will get better at vegetables.
  • You are worth fighting for. In our society with ‘treats’ everywhere… it truly is a war. But fight this one. It is of global importance.

In summary, being a fatty is not ok. You need to act and you need to be accountable. I love lots of fatties. But I am always thinking… please please please find a reason to believe you are worth it.

Before running

Now to be clear, running has not been a big part of my life, but, it did contribute to where I am and to some extent, it placed me where I am right now. Cycling is by far my biggest obsession… and chocolate.

BlueDragon2011

Day 2 Blue Dragon 2010 starting the long climb up the old river bed to Weldborough. Nick Morgan was out of shot just ahead. That’s James Williamson ex 24hr World Champion behind me. RIP Willow xxx

I was always active. As a teen, I became obsessed with body boarding. I was State Champion a bunch of times. Made it my life. I was a surf coach on Philip Island, Victoria for 2 years. Worked in surf shops. Living the dream for someone of that age. Surfed every day for about 5 years. I actually thought that would bode well for me. Low impact as opposed to football or skateboarding etc… When that dream ended I jumped on a plane and moved to Tottenham in North East London.

It was there I started playing tennis. I loved tennis as a kid and as there was not much else on offer in Tottenham… tennis it was. I played a lot. After 2 years in the UK, I moved home and played several times a week, often on hard courts at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart. I loved it. I played A Reserve so a pretty high level but I wasn’t an exceptional talent compared to the real deals out there. Once tennis died away for me, I noticed that I started to get a bit chubby….

TennisDarcey

Hard courts. I loved them. ‘Not anymore!’ Shot taken at the Domain Tennis Centre in beautiful Hobart.

It was in a house that I was sharing with Hobart’s finest, Heath Griggs and George Bailey (Yes, Australian One Day cricket captain) that I started ‘weighing in’. I believe I peaked out at 86kgs. Now I am 179cm tall so that qualifies as stocky… Basic math tells me that given I was 74kgs 10 years prior that I was on a trajectory to obese-ville. A place I was very familiar with given that as a 10 year old boy, I was the fattest kid at school. There was no way I was going back to that dark place. A place where pleat pants rubbed together, where custom cut wetsuits were ordered, where shoes didn’t fit and where girls were ‘your friends.’ So I started riding mountain bikes. Why wouldn’t I, I lived in Hobart. We have some of the best trails in the world!

DarceyBaileyGriggs

On Hobart’s waterfront. Me, George Bailey and the one and only, Heath Griggs.

I think I went from 85kgs down to 78kgs in about 6hrs. Well, after my first Mountain Bike race which was a 6hr race… that’s what I lost in fluid. Interestingly, even as a rank beginner, I thought I was a chance at winning that race. Dion Shaw won it. The legend himself. Dion was obsessed with MTB racing. He was the SRAM rep. Rode heaps. Won heaps of races. Got people addicted. He was tops.

2008_6hr hell

Half way through my first Mountain Bike race. 82kgs Wearing a Camelback and zero sock! #sadface!

My growing obsession with bicycles escalated quickly. I was all of a sudden riding a lot. I had a really cool hardtail XC bike. It was a bit of a slalom bike, but I didn’t know the difference at that stage. I rode it everywhere, but mainly up to Junction Cabin via the notorious Old Farm fire road. 14minutes of ‘let go of me’. I’ll post some Strava stats in the LINKS page but believe it is around 20% most of the way and loose. Anyway… I loved it. I loved climbing. I still do.

Leaning

Basically how i’ve looked for the last 5 years. Excluding the depths of winter!

I was getting lean and fast. Again, I wasn’t rocking up at Le Tour but hey, I was 33 and had a full time job. My new weight was, all of a sudden… 73kgs. Now that’s a great turn around from 86kgs. I was pretty chuffed. Cycling was a brilliant thing for me. New friends and a community I felt part of. Sarah, Dunk, Emma, Adrian, Burf, Burf and Morgs… the list was long and good. xx.

So 2009 came around and I decided I wanted to be the National Marathon Champion for Cross Country. Now I had been racing for 6 months. Riding for 12 months, so winning elite was perhaps a bit of a tall order. I entered the ‘Veterans’. Now…  30+ didn’t feel like veterans. I trained to Lance Armstrong’s program to a tee. Oh my god those 6hr rides at low endurance were so hard to do… I just wanted to smash it haha. I trained for 20hrs a week for 6 months. Rain, hail or rain… or rain. No Strava. No Kickr. Just what now seems like old school, KMs and Zones. I went alright that year…

MarathonChamp2009

Proud moment after grabbing some fake gold.

I won the National Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Bendigo. ‘The Golden Triangle’ course. 105kms. It was brutal. My old best mate, Daniel Todd’s mum had just passed away from cancer. I thought about her and him a lot on the ride. I cried so much during the race. I won. It was amazing. My now dead dad watched me come over the finish line. The look on his face. I’ll never lose that. It was… it was fucking excellent. To note, I was pretty bloody close to the Elite guys. I certainly felt part of it. Of course I wouldn’t have felt part of it if I hadn’t listened to Adrian Van-loon re: hydration. I didn’t have a plan for hydration. He did. Life changing advice once would assume. You capture a certain amount of confidence that life requires when you win a National title. It’s pretty handy.

That season I had a blast racing. I won the Launceston 6 Hour solo in 35 degree heat. Dion Shaw finished second. I won the National Multi-sport pairs race with my brother Mick at the Freycinet Challenge. Mick is the real athlete in our family. He paddled and ran. I TT’d and MTB’d. It was awesome. The next race was The Blue Dragon. My favorite race of all time. A two day stage race. Nick Morgan and I won elite men’s. It was SO MUCH FUN. It was a real war. Also, held at Tasmania’s (and one of the worlds) premier Mountain Bike destinations, Derby on Tasmania’s North East Coast.

There was a bit of a slow demise after 2011… I was still racing. I raced the brilliant Launceston to New Norfolk one day classic and a day later raced the Tour of Tasmania. After that, I had a long break. Focused on work, renovating my new house, starting a family. All very rewarding stuff! 2011 through 2014 was a bit of a blur. I stayed quite fit but certainly wasn’t being pulled toward some purposeful outcome. It was good old motivation keeping me away from mediocrity.

DarceyHassVanHeapsToT2011

The Launceston to New Norfolk. Smashing it on the front with Nathan Hass third wheel, FlyV, Lawson Homes and the Russian National Team there too. Best road race of my life.

This is where multi-sport joined my life in the solo sense. I’ll leave that journey for my next post…