I’m the Juggalo, B—h!

Data, when you come down to it, is everything.
I just came back from a post-operation appointment following my second hip replacement on June 4. My orthopedic surgeon is one of the top lower-joint replacement specialists an area (Pinellas County, Florida) where joint-replacement specialists are like tire experts at NASCAR or foot specialists at the Boston Marathon. You have to be a cut above just to gain entry, let alone stand out.
He loves me. I mean, when he says “thanks for making me look good” he says it with such sincerity I almost believe it. Truth is, he doesn’t often get a chance to work on someone like me. He did my right knee and left hip in 2010. I was 49 – which, all things considered is pretty young. While most of his patients are sedentary, I’m a former two-sport All-America with a brown belt in Okinawan Karate. I regained full range of motion in my knee replacement in about a quarter of the projected time. He “almost had a heart attack” when I walked into my first post-op without a cane. I walked out of the hospital following my first hip replacement. So when I told him I walked almost three miles three days before, he shook his head and chuckled. “Sounds like something YOU would do”.
So I’m an outlier. Which sucks because doctors, especially in these litigious times, don’t consider “outlier” a basis for prescribing post-op activity. “The fact is, there isn’t a whole lot of data on people like you” he says (well, there’s Bo Jackson, but he’s way, way, way outside the normal data set). His prescriptions are the same sensible ones he gives every patient: You can jog, but don’t sprint (too late, already did that four years ago, when I was about 50 pounds heavier). You can play tennis, just not singles tennis. Limited weight bearing activities. Take it slow.
Which is problematic for me, since I have always found success – in anything – usually hangs out beyond the limits of conventional common sense. For example, I’m pretty sure I can if I want to, play basketball right now. Not gonna try it though, since nobody has data on just how much basketball I could play or should play, or if it is possible at all. I’m pretty sure that, if I had to, I could deadlift my way back into car-lifting shape again (I used to get free beer for each car I could trap cars sideway in its parking space). And, I have managed to get my weight down to my 1981 range of 227-235. Walking upright for the first time in two years, functioning joints, more than 100 pounds less than what I was accustomed to carrying most of the aughts. I have to admit, the urge to dive back in is pretty tempting.
I’m just not going to do it. I’m 57. I don’t have the money for a likely uninsured reinstall if I’m wrong about any of this. My days of testing boundaries are over. I’m not becoming a couch potato – I look forward to taking up karate again after more than 25 years, among other things. It’s just that, instead of a nigh-indestructible badass asking “why not” my athletic ego is now a smugly satisfied fringe culture loving, comic-reading, music app geek whose answer to every suggestion is…’but Whyyyyyy?.

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