Why oh why do I need a joint replacement?

And how much energy should we put into this question?

Here’s the Buddha’s perspective on the matter (Dr. Bradley K. Hawkins’ version; there are others.)

“Imagine that you are walking along a path in the forest and suddenly, out of the trees, comes an arrow and punctures you in the thigh.  When the arrow goes into your thigh, do you say to yourself, ‘I wonder what kind of wood the arrow is made out of…  I wonder where its bird feathers came from…  I wonder how hard the arrow traveled before it hit me…  NO! What you are thinking is, ‘I gotta get this freaking arrow out of my leg!’ 

That’s the primary thought that comes to your head.  You’re in pain, and you want to remove this arrow out of your thigh.  That’s the primary thing.  And the Buddha says, ‘It’s the same with our human condition’.

I will concur with the Buddha on this one. But probably we can’t leave it at that. We do want to know why. Let’s take me as an example.

My cousin, an esteemed internist in NYC, said matter-of-factly: “your cartilage is worn out.” Fair enough!

I have read that a subset of hip replacement candidates get there by repeated impact trauma (think running marathons, skiing moguls, etc). But that’s not me… how about you?

A naturopath did a limited genetic test on me and determined that my Vitamin D metabolism is sub-par. But that can’t be it, on its own. PS: We should all be taking Vitamin D.

My surgeon looked at my X-ray and said that in my case it is anatomical- the shape and angle of my acetabulum just didn’t allow for a proper movement of the femur. For many 40 and 50-somethings, that seems to be the primary cause.

The go-to yogi of Marin County suggested that I brought it on myself with postural and movement errors and that if I had only come to her sooner, we could have remedied it (to which I raise my middle finger, as should you, if you hear something similar).

If anyone gives you an answer that triggers self-attacking thoughts in you (“it’s my fault”), I suggest you run in the other direction (ok, maybe just walk briskly). Maybe it was our running, or maybe our posture did exacerbate it. But at this point, let’s put all that behind us and focus on cultivating a resilient, positive mindset to take us through the challenges to come. It’s likely that no one is as hard on you as you are. Don’t let this be your fault.


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