The hip-replacement diaries, part 2

Will Fall-Line publisher Dickie make it back to skiing after a double hip replacement? We follow his journey from the operating table back to (hopefully) the slopes

It’s three months since the first hip operation. According to the surgeon, by this point after No. 2, I’ll be skiing. So, if I didn’t have the second op to go, would I be skiing now?

Hmmm. Maybe. The problem is, the remaining knackered one is now clearly so useless that it’s hard to know if I’m limping because of residual operational tweakage, or increased buggeration from the poor cartilage remnants in number 2. The more weak stomached may wish to skip the next line, but when I hopped onto a static bike to start spinning the new leg up, the old one grated. That’s right, I could almost hear it graunching away. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised – on the last fairy-cycle ride before the op it felt similarly gritty, but the difference between having once smooth-running side and the Steptoe-and-Son variant is so pronounced as to be completely off-putting.

This has limited rehab to a selection of stationary exercises including buttock-clenching; I pointed out to the increasingly-worried-looking physio that I’d been in the Navy and spent time at boarding school, so there was plenty of muscle memory to rely on. What is seems to mean is that walking is good, as is wobbling on my SkiA Sweetspot trainer to increase balance. Carrying sofas down the stairs is bad, it turns out. Especially for my wife who manfully took the lower end and managed to only fall down a few steps when my appalling posture threw my back out and simultaneously caused me to throw it on top of her. That’s useful leg strength and stability testing for you, I helpfully pointed out.

Are we any closer to knowing if I now have one skiable leg? After re-reading the above gibberish, I doubt anyone is any wiser; I know I’m not. All I can say is that the new hip doesn’t hurt unless I drive a long distance, is already several degrees more flexible and puts up with walks up to around 3 hours without much feedback. Will it withstand my usual ski diet of enthusiastic crashing? I think I’d want to be a bit careful: the only time it’s ever felt like it was going to fall off was swimming off a Scottish beach a few weeks’ back. Switching to the breast stroke proved the new side had a lot more movement and also started clunking, but there was a possibility I’d cryogenically shrunk the ball joint out of the socket after exposure to the average Scottish summer sea temperature.

Anyhow, to return to the point of the post, there’s a high possibility I won’t ski this year even when I do hit the snow; because here’s a set of K2 Kwicker snowboard boots and bindings. It’s not on a splitboard, mind. After touring with a mate on one last winter I’ve seen enough sweat to know to stick to skis when uphill calls…