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5 Major Surgeries in 7 Years!

It all started in the spring of 2013. I was having another great day on Cypress Mountain. I strapped in at the top of Eagle Chair and was heading to the first hit, hopped to switch stance to do a little "cab" trick and caught an edge. I landed weird and all my weight rolled on my shoulder and my collar bone broke. I could feel it under my coat, so off to the Hospital I go. Driving home was kinda tricky, but I got there.

I initially broke my right collar bone when I was twelve..... I'll never forget the daily strap tightening. Back then, they put a strap on your body to pull your shoulders back to reset the collar bone to it's correct position. Every morning the strap was tightened..... And yep, it totally sucked!

Luckily I was able to see Dr. Lemaire right away and she gave me the option of leaving it, or reattaching it with a plate and 7 screws. Because it was the second time and my profession has me on my hands a lot...... I chose the surgery..... Dr. Lemaire agreed.

The recovery from this surgery was very mellow, but I learned a huge lesson about opiates!

The pill bottle said 1-2 oxycodone every 4 hours for pain. So every 4 hours I would take two throughout the first day.

By day two I was so nauseous, that I vomitted, and was starting to lose my breath.

I learned a big lesson there, and stopped them immediately!

It's really amazing that they give oxycodone to children as well..... Wow

Generally after a major surgery you stay pretty chill for the first 6 weeks. Those weeks went by quite easily and at 6 weeks I was back in a handstand...... And it felt really good.

Charged up from getting through this set back, I felt it was time to be more proactive with my knee pain.

Dr. Tarazi had me in for MRI's on both knees..... The results didn't surprise me!

Both knees had significant tears in them.

I was given the same advice...... Leave them and deal with the pain, or address the pain by surgery. He also said that there will always be nerve pain in the knees due to tears and scar tissue, but the acute pain can be addressed by the arthroscopic surgery.

So I opted to get my knees taken care of over the next two years!

The left knee was more damaged, so in 2014 I took care of that! I was amazed that the surgery was done with lasers and 3 tiny holes in the knee.

6 weeks later I was back to my full teaching schedule and working on my range of motion.

It really is incredible how my yoga practice allowed me to return so quickly. The yin classes speeded up the healing dramatically. When you sit at your "edge" for long periods of time.

Your "edge" changes to knew depths!

Having the left knee recover so well..... I addressed the right knee in 2015.

This recovery was a walk in the park, as the right tear was minimal compared to the left, and I had already gone through that.

Next on the menu was my left hip. In '97 I broke my left femur on a tree, on Whistler Mountain. "Rudy" Mike Nyhuis and I were in "V.D.Trees" having an incredible powder day!

This was my favourite run on Whistler when it snows. There's a section that has two big rollers, followed by a hard right turn, and a chute down a cliff line to tight trees. The first roller we would do a trick, and the second roller, was a setup for the chute. This day we some how approached the section deeper that usual. So I come bombing at the second roller, thinking it's the first, and I'm in the air when I realized it was too late. Hit the tree or off the cliff.....

I really don't know how I survived that one but I got lucky! Rudy helped me get my boot out of my binding and straightened my leg before getting help..... Crazy times!!

The evacuation by Helicopter was tricky. My leg was too long and they had to bend my foot back to fit me in the Heli! That kinda sucked.

Dr. Vaisler did the femur surgery. He said that I should get the bar removed from inside the femur before the 10 year mark. At 9 years I had an X-ray, and they said that too much bone had grown over the end of the femur, so the removal was not a good idea.

The impact of that collision did a lot to my left knee, but mostly my hip. Over the years the joint had worn down so much that my hip was bone on bone, and the muscles around my hip joint were seizing up!

All the yoga I was doing allowed my to keep up a strong practice, but when the hip joint wears right down, you have to address it.

My friend had his hip replaced by an amazing surgeon doing a new "Superpath" technique.

So I made an appointment with Dr. Kostamo. He had a great demeanour and I felt really comfortable choosing him as my surgeon. He said that because of the bar still in my femur, he would have to do a double surgery. He would first take out the bar and the screws near my knee.... Then he would do the "Superpath" procedure.

The surgery was kinda funny as I got spinal freezing and the Anesthesiologist asked me if I wanted, "The Magic Juice"..... I said, "Do I need it?.... He said, "No".... So I didn't bother.

So Dr. Kostamo is taking the bar out and I can hear everything..... They were talking about their kids Birthday Party, and all of a sudden he said, "O.k. let's do the hip replacement".....

I said, "Should I be hearing you guys?"

They laughed.... And I said, "I'll have The Magic Juice" for the replacement.

So I wake up from recovery, and they got me to get up and walk immediately!

I thought that was incredible, and a few hours later, after walking and doing a few stairs, I was going home.

The most humbling part of the recovery was the walker and elevated toilet seat.... Hahaha

Once again I get to play the waiting game. You move from walker, to crutches, to cane... The first 6 weeks you really have to lay low as your body repairs. I was fortunate to get into Mary Pack Arthritis Rehab, where they do aqua therapy and teach you a bunch of quality rehabilitation exercises! It was such fast track to healing and getting my walk "lined up", and moving the new Ceramic Hip correctly!

I went to Tofino for the 6th week to rehab on the beach and clear my mind. I did tons of physio exercises on the beach, and by the end of the 6th week, I was done with the cane.

When I came back from Tofino, I was back to teaching my full schedule!

It was so great to be back at it, and start slowly getting my practice back into my body.

Once again the yin classes were incredibly healing!

Over the next couple years my body went into quite a transformation. The muscles around my left hip were relaxing more and more. My knees were so much better, and I was moving into half lotus poses, where before, just to sit crossed-legged, I had to sit on blocks!

Then I had another fall snowboarding. This time I hit a backside wall hit, and got kicked funny..... When I landed my shoulder got tweaked two different ways, and I knew it wasn't good!

Off to the Emergency I go again, thinking that something is broken. The X-Ray turned up negative, so I thought it was just minor tears.

Over the next 6 weeks my shoulder got stronger, but the front deltoid was still very weak.

My friend Paula got my in for an MRI and I found out that I had 3 tears. My family doctor sent me to Dr. Frank and he said that my supraspinatus was completely torn 4cm, and my subscapularis and teres minor had minor tears. He said you can function with this, but over time your shoulder will weaken if you don't address it immediately. You have about 12-18 months max. after a complete tear to address. If you wait too long the ends of the tear will die.

Being a very proactive person we set a date to get this repaired! Before surgery everyone was saying that this was a painful recovery..... So I was prepared...... HOLY CRAP they were right!!

My surgery was 4 hours long.... He put two screws in my humorous to attach the supraspinatus, stitched up the subscapularis & trees minor, removed the bursa, and had to do some work on my bicep.

I had a nerve blocker injection that was supposed to get me through the night, but it wore off about 6 hours later..... Then the pain hit.... I wasn't going to go crazy on opiates, so I had to suck it up..... I didn't sleep for 3 days due to intense pain. But then it mellowed out over the next couple days.

This was my pain regiment for the next 6 months!

B12, Curcumin with Black Pepper, Magnesium Glycinate, D, C, CBD, THC, Recovery, and Ibuprofen.

Once again I have to rest, do my physio and stay positive! Sharon Spinder at Balance Physio has been my saviour through this healing! She's a magician with recovery.... I saw her twice a week, up to 5 months, then once a week for a month...... Now I just do maintenance visits.

Dr. Frank said that the fall was definitely just the final hit..... All the sports I had played, had taken it's toll on my right shoulder. The joint was so worn down that anything could have set it off. I played Badminton for my City, Ontario Champion Touch Football, University/ Club Basketball, Dunk Contests, Pro Beach Volleyball, Pro Boardercross/ Freestyle Snowboarding, and lots of Arm Balancing.

A cool side note... Dr. Frank had to postpone the surgery for a month, and in that month I got to snowboard a bunch ( No more big tricks.... That ship has sailed! )

But also in that month he learned a new technique that he was able to apply to my surgery. He said that if things heal well and I do ALL MY PHYSIO EXERCISES.... I could get back 70-90%.... Challenge accepted!

The thing with this recovery is if you don't do all the work..... Your results will be awful.... And the majority of the patients don't do the work! So you hear a lot of horror stories of terrible results..... Due to laziness.... But the patients/ athletes who do all their exercises, had great results!

You have to retrain all the muscles around the joint, slowly lengthen them again, and over time, increase your range of motion..... It really is quite a process, but you do get little rewards along the way, that keep you stoked!

As my practice got stronger.... I was slowly revisiting "chaturanga" from "plank" & "up dog" was feeling really nice. Just before the 6 month mark I was back in "Handstand & Pincha".

Upward facing bow pose/ wheel was the last big mental hurdle! I did a bunch of Yoga Wheel work, and started with blocks on the wall.....Shortly after that I was back in "urdhva dhanurasana"!

While all this was going on the Pandemic hit! Luckily this gave me more time to heal and teach a ton of online classes.

I really catered my Active Yin classes to my healing. I learned a bunch of new functional movement exercises and really lengthened the long hold postures for maximum benefit.

When Gold's Gym reopened, I was able to add 3 full body workouts in a week..... Total game changer! Muscle memory is a beautiful thing. Putting weight on your joints is SO IMPORTANT AS YOU GET OLDER! So is hanging.

Every week I was getting considerably stronger, which really helped all the lifting in my Rocket Practice!

My physical week consists of 5 Rocket classes, 3 Active Yin classes, 3 Workouts, and a lot of bike riding. Morning meditation sets up the hips nicely for the day and keeping my diet pretty clean, keeps me in a forward trajectory. I'm mainly vegetarian, with some Sokeye Salmon Sashimi cheats here and there for quality protein and B vitamins.

Deep gratitude and big love to my partner Reed for helping me through all of this! Cooking all the meals, changing ice packs, heating pads, pulling me out of the tub, and the emotions of rehabilitation..... You've been a rock! <3

This has been nicely healing for me to write this.... I hope it motivates people to be proactive about their healing and health.

"You're stronger than you think you are!".... Larry Schultz

Physiotherapists I recommend:

Sharon Spinder at Balance Physio

Dr. Jai & Jaime Ackerman at Alliance Wellness

Dr. Stella Seto ( Ozone Therapy and Needling )

Dr. Fabio at Empower Health for Osteoporosis / Chiropractic

Less alcohol > More CBD Products

Stay safe and keep practicing.

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