The Quest to Deal with Difficulties with Dignity

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Salt Lake City Spartan Race

Early 2015, Matt and Brindy (my son and his wife) invited me to participate in a “Spartan” race. I had never heard of a Spartan race before but Matt explained to me that it was a “mud run”. I had heard of of a mud run and have often toyed with the idea of participating in one, I told him I would enter as long as he agreed to carry me on his back. Matt is a really buff kid. He does a lot of CrossFit exercises and probably could carry me on his back through a mud run. He told me not to worry that if I had a hard time getting over the obstacles or under or through other obstacles that he would give me a hand. So – I agreed to do it. How exciting!

I had about three months to prepare so I decided to take up a exercise program in my garage that I found online called “Seven Minute Workout by Johnson & Johnson” (the pharmaceutical company). I logged about 55 workouts (they are not really 7 minutes long – usually 21 to 35 minutes long)  During my training and was doing about 150 push-ups three times a week, lots of pull-ups, lots of crunches, and lots of other exercises like squats, lunges, and Burpees. Since I was a pretty decent trail runner I figured I would get through the 8 – 10 miles and 25 obstacles.

The problem was that I had been suffering from quite a bit of pain in my left hip. I always believed that it was a issue with my hip flexor muscle group and was told years earlier by a doctor that I should try physical therapy. I did that for a year. I never suspected that I had anything other than strained hip flexor’s.

In the Spartan race, our team of 3 “Team Quack” placed in the top third (there were 6,000 participants) I placed 7th of 24 in the 55+ year old class. I felt pretty good about my results and had a blast doing it and vowed to do it again.

Dr. Mike

Around February 10, 2016, my good friend Mike Swartz, a chiropractor whom have known for 25 years, came into my office to see me. He asked me if everything was okay and when I told him yes he said “no it’s not. You are walking crooked with a limp and your turning your neck as if you were in pain.” I told him that yes I was dealing with some physical issues but that I was okay. He denied that and agreed to come to my office two days a week to “work on me”. After a week of telling me that I needed to get my hip and neck x-rayed I finally did so.

X-rays

I got x-rays February 26, 2016, and Mike discussed the results with me the next day. The scariest part of the report was the diagnosis of “severe osteoarthritis” in my left hip. Mike was very kind and calming when he said that it was something I could work through but something I would never recover from. For a guy like me who has always been very active (water skiing, wake boarding, snow boarding, rock climbing, hiking, trail running, etc, and have been known to carry clothes dryers upstairs by myself, carry multiple backpacks through the mountains to help a young man or young woman get through a tough time, and do lots of things without physical restriction, this was a real blow. On Monday, February 29, 2016 my wife Cheryl and I met with Mike and looked at the x-rays. It was pretty easy to see the problem.

Mike told me to go see my general practice doctor and a specialist.

Osteoarthritis? Me?!!

You can imagine what was going through my mind at that time. Lots of things. I had no idea what osteoarthritis was. Arthritis is something that old people get when they go into wheelchairs, right! Ignorantly, I thought it was something that showed up in big lumps in your knuckles, joints, and crippling behaviors. I was pretty much wrong on all counts. Now I have osteoarthritis to live with forever.

Why this Blog?

I started this blog called Spartan Grandpa because I want to journal my progress in getting my body in shape to deal with osteoarthritis. I am a grandfather to 6 wonderful grandkids – Ezra, Eli, Dylan, Liam, Emmie, and Adisyn – and in a few months #7 will be here. I want to be able to keep up with all of them.

27 million people in the United States suffer from the effects of osteoarthritis in all different stages. Mine was diagnosed “severe” (whatever that means) but I’ve been promised that if I work-out perfectly and take care of this body, that I’ll be able to develop the muscles I need to reduce the effects of the arthritis.

In this blog, I hope to help and inspire other grandpas to enjoy their grandkids by sharing what I learn. Maybe I will post something helpful. Maybe others will teach me how to cope as they are doing. We will see! I will post my honest progress and I hope it helps somebody else that gets diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I know that it’s not the end of the world or of life as I know it. There are a lot worse diagnoses I could have received. I feel very fortunate to have the body that I do. Our bodies are the thing that allow us to experience everything we experience.

All the best,

Spartan Grandpa

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