As the elder stateswoman of BMX racing in the U.S. at 68 years old, the debilitating pain of osteoarthritis impeded my ability to be as competitive as I could and wanted to be. There were days that I had to alter my training because the pain and stiffness in my hips and knees, due to arthritis, was more than my body could take. It was not a matter of stopping; it was a matter of curtailing the manner in which I prepared for competition.
I endured pain 24/7 even though I was taking over the counter pain relievers. I was not willing to take narcotics for an extended period of time, even though they were prescribed before my surgeries. The pain still existed even then.
A saving grace for me was remaining physically fit by riding my trike or hybrid bike on days the pain was too great to practice on the track. On days I couldn’t go outside to ride, I rode my hybrid in my basement. This helped relieve the pain in my hips and knees while keeping me race ready and preparing me for my bike ride across Iowa, which I completed in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
After surgery, I have no pain in my hips and knees. After hip replacements in December 2013 and February 2014, I began walking five days a week at the gym and riding my bike on the trainer in my basement four to five days a week. I still had pain and mobility issues with my knees, which I had replaced in December 2014. After knee replacement, I was back to training on my bike in my basement. I engaged in core fitness and strength training four days a week while walking five days a week.
Do not put off for years what you should take care of today. My surgeon, Dr. John Nettrour, told me I should have come to him two years sooner. I spent four years researching the best orthopedic surgeon in the area before finding Dr. Nettrour. Because of my age, there were surgeons who did not support me continuing to race BMX bikes. But Dr. Nettrour believed in me and scheduled my surgeries right away. Rehab was a piece of cake because I was already in such good shape. Knee rehab was more difficult, but due to my great physical condition before the surgeries, my physical therapist told me my rehab time and return to normal life was much quicker than the average patient.