Two months into my recovery from a broken hip, I’ve learned a few things.
First, even though my hip got pinned back together, and even though you might have heard that it takes 6 to 8 weeks for a bone to heal, sometimes it takes a whole lot longer. I had my 8-week follow-up visit on Monday, and not feeling any significant pain from the bone, I thought I’d be soon on my way to physical therapy.
Didn’t turn out that way. Oh, the bone is healing just fine, my surgeon said. And he showed me the x-rays to illustrate the progress. And, yup, there’s progress. Turns out that it’s not completely healed, though. And before I get to go to PT, it’s got to be completely healed. That could be a couple of months.
So for the moment, I’m still using a walker (I’ve got the whole old geezer using a walker thing down), and I’m still restricted to only placing very minimal weight on my right leg. After the next follow-up visit in mid-January I’ll be able to start placing more weight on the leg, assuming that the bone is still healing nicely.
And by that point we will probably know if this procedure will ultimately be successful. Problems with the blood supply to the bone tend to start showing up around the three month mark. Here’s to hoping they don’t. But even if things are going perfectly, I won’t be going to PT then. That will be at least another month later, or sometime around mid-February, if all goes well.
Having said all that, I’ve also been told that this is the better procedure for the long haul, even though the recovery time for a total hip replacement is shorter. The day I broke my hip, the surgeon said there is about an 80 percent success rate for re-pinning the bones. I’m hoping to be part of that 80 percent.
The second thing I’ve learned is more of a hunch. But here goes: As I recall, by this stage of his recovery after breaking his hip about 10 years back, Floyd Landis was already training and racing. From what my surgeon said on Monday, cycling is still out of the question, because it puts too much weight and stress on the joint. And that could cause problems with the recovery. So extrapolating a bit, I’m wondering if returning to training and racing so soon played a role in Landis needing a Birmingham hip replacement a few years later. I wouldn’t even have thought about this until my recent misadventure.
Third thing I’ve learned that I’ll pass on is this: If you ever need to use a walker, get yourself some pads for the hand grips and/or a pair of heavily padded cycling gloves. Your hands take quite a beating if you don’t use a bit of protection — especially if you’re in for a four-month stint with one of these four-legged contraptions.
And while I’m at it, let me tell you, being effectively under house arrest is no fun. Thanks to some kind folks who’ve sent books, and one person who sent some awesome brownies, I’ve managed to keep myself from going too stir crazy. (The brownies may have led to a bit of weight gain, however. ) But it’s tough. Just getting out for a cup of coffee at a coffee shop seems like a luxury these days. And being able to go to the office two days a week, as I have for the past few weeks, has helped, as well.
One last thing I’ll note is that if you ever have to go through an experience like this — and I sincerely hope that none of you do — having a spouse (partner, significant other, etc.) who is willing to do what needs to be done to help care for you is truly a blessing. My wife deserves huge props for all that she’s done and continues to do on my behalf. It ain’t easy at times. But she’s borne the weight of this as well as anyone possibly could. So a public shout-out to her.
Shifting gears a bit
Since this is a blog about doping in sports, let’s conclude with just a few tidbits about the biggest dope(r) of them all, Lance Armstrong.
Now, it may not be fair to Armstrong to say that he was the biggest doper of them all. Maybe there was someone bigger, but that person hasn’t started a “Reconciliation Tour” (to borrow a phrase from Betsy Andreu).
First, as you’ve no doubt seen or heard, Lance recently met with former US Postal soigneur Emma O’Reilly over drinks and dinner to express his remorse for what he’d said about her in the past. The UK’s Daily Mail was along for the ride (at least the drinks portion of the meeting). Of his meeting in Miami with O’Reilly, Armstrong said:
I wanted to talk to her. I felt it was necessary to have a conversation because there were definitely people that got caught up in this story who deserved an apology from me.
True, that. There are many people who deserve an apology, and probably a whole lot more. Far as I can tell, Emma O’Reilly is the first person Armstrong has met with in his quest for — well, exactly what, I don’t know. Redemption? That’s a bit of a stretch. Reconciliation? Perhaps — and we’ll get back to that in a bit.
The next stop on the tour was Paris, where Armstrong apologized to Cristophe Bassons for his behavior towards the French cyclist in the 1999 Tour de France. At the time, the race was being billed as the “Tour of Renewal” to make up for the Festina scandal a year prior. Bassons was racing on the Festina team, and also writing about his experiences during the Tour. In at least one article, he mentioned that doping was still going on within the sport. And he also said the peloton was “shocked” by Armstrong’s performance after coming back from his time off to battle testicular cancer.
By stage 14 of the Tour, Armstrong had enough. Here’s Bassons description of what happened next, as reported at VeloNation.com:
He grabbed [me] by the shoulder, because he knew that everyone would be watching, and he knew that at that moment, he could show everyone that he was the boss. He stopped me, and he said what I was saying wasn’t true, what I was saying was bad for cycling, that I mustn’t say it, that I had no right to be a professional cyclist, that I should quit cycling, that I should quit the Tour. He finished by saying *** you.
Later that day, Armstrong went on French television and said:
[Bassons'] accusations aren’t good for cycling, for his team, for me, for anybody. If he thinks cycling works like that, he’s wrong and he would be better off going home.
Bassons left the race and retired from cycling two years later at the ripe old age of 27. As for the apology, VeloNation reports:
Meeting him yesterday in a Parisien [sic] restaurant, Armstrong addressed the subject. “If this is how you’ve felt at the time, I really apologize,” he said, according to Le Monde.
“There is no need to apologize,” Bassoons replied. “At least you have told me to the face.”
Meanwhile, one person who isn’t buying Armstrong’s contrition is Betsy Andreu, who published this article on Crankpunk. Betsy begins her piece by suggesting that Lance’s current tour should have a theme song, and perhaps that song should be “Tell Me Lies” by Fleetwood Mac. She quickly gets to the point, saying:
Lance’s reconciliation tour, aka the I-really-want-to-compete-at-an-elite-level-again tour, is nothing more than a charade to back up his call for a version of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee that will exonerate him. I really didn’t get the gist of it until I talked to Joe Harris, a consultant who has applied the principles of truth and reconciliation in business, and co-authored a “roadmap” for repairing pro cycling with Steve Maxwell, an economist and contributor to VeloNews.
I suspect she’s right about Armstrong’s motivations. Given the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, the original Truth and Reconciliation Commission is in the news, at least by reference. Turns out that those meetings didn’t get either the full truth or complete reconciliation for those who were the perpetrators or victims of apartheid. But it did give people a chance to tell their stories, and for the victims who spoke out to have their suffering acknowledged.
If such a committee actually comes into being for the world of cycling, it would probably have a similar result. It’s too much to ask that the full, complete truth of cycling’s doping past would come out. There is simply too much over the decades for any commission to fully document. And though it could lead to some reconciliation, it probably won’t do so for all who were affected. As for exoneration, when the full truth of Armstrong’s past is spoken, I don’t see him getting any of that. Assuming Lance lays everything out, we might see the full spectrum of what he felt he had to do in order to win.
Should it lead to a reduction in his lifetime ban? I don’t think so. Armstrong’s own actions brought him to this point. If he’d wanted a lighter suspension, he should have cooperated with USADA during their original investigation. Telling the truth after the investigation is over and the result decided doesn’t really merit a reduction in the sanction in my book.
If apologizing in person helps ease Armstrong’s mind, then that’s a good thing, I suppose. But let’s leave it to Betsy, as one of Lance’s targets over the years, to say what he needs to do to make amends:
Lance should ask a very simple question: what must I do to rectify the damage I’ve done? In our case, all he had to do was meet with us - nothing more nothing less.
He should be opening up his checkbook to SCA and asking,”How much do I write the check for?”
He should be flying to New Zealand and get down on his knees to Mike Anderson and beg for forgiveness.
Maybe with Kathy and Greg, he could tell them what Trek knew and offer to pay them for their bike company he helped destroy.
How about paying USADA back - the anti-doping agency he tried to destroy. It’s really not that difficult on what he should do.
It’s only difficult if the intent to do good is not there.
A pathological liar doesn’t all of the sudden become a truth teller. Maybe he just switches from telling one big lie to a lot of little lies.
In time, we’ll see how this all plays out.