Monday, 28 October 2013

Weight Loss and a Different Future

Like most well in to middle age I'd put a bit of weight on over the years. To be a bit more precise in the last 25 years I'd put on nearly 20Kg (3 stone). In my early to mid twenties I was both very active doing lots of climbing, walking and running as well as having a physical job - scaffolding. There wasn't much chance to get fat as there simply wasn't time.

Following a road accident in which I was run over I was advised to retrain and avoid physical work, or as it was put at the time: "you should seek work of a more sheltered nature". So I went to university and studied Computing Science. Since then my work has been sat at a desk typing, writing and debugging code. It's also fair to say that I've a healthy appetite and I was taught not to leave an empty plate.

Hence the increased weight. Unfortunately this has had an impact (literally) on my health. Around two years ago I began to have trouble running. At first I thought it was a groin strain that I'd picked up slipping on ice but even after a few weeks' rest the symptoms would return. My wife persuaded me to visit a physio. The physio said that my hip was as stiff and immobile as any she'd seen and suggested that I have an x-ray to check if I'd got any underlying skeletal problems.

The result, to put it bluntly, wasn't what I was expecting or wanted to hear: severe arthritis.

A year on and the pain was getting worse, at times it would reduce me to tears, ripples of tension shaking my body. Something had to be done. First off was visiting my GP. In the meantime a bit of research (AKA Google) suggested that weight loss would help alleviate the symptoms. Each kilo lost equates to around 3 kg of stress on the joint when moving. I don't know where I read about it but I settled on the 5:2 diet which consists of five days of normal eating and two days of severely restricted calorie intake, just 600KCals per day. It is equivalent to a weekly 25% calorie deficit.

In the four months from early April I lost 16-17Kg (roughly 2 1/2 stone). To see what that's like, head to a supermarket and pile up 16 bags of sugar. Even better, try carrying it. I haven't been this weight since I was in my late twenties. I'm significantly lighter than I was when I did my Bob Graham Round! Clothes now just hang off me - it's like being a child trying on my dad's jackets. I've gone from nearly being on the last, largest, hole on my trouser belt to making two extra holes at the opposite end. What's ironic is that early in the year I went through my wardrobe trying on all my clothes and sending those that were too small to charity shops. I'd fit them all now! For friends who hadn't seen me in the interim it was a bit of a shock.

The GP visit led to a referral to the local hip consultant in mid July. "You are a bit young for a hip replacement" was the first comment. The next were: "It's bad and will never get better" and "We can replace it whenever you want".  As it happened I'd lost about 10Kg by this time and wasn't have much problem with the hip. Whether this was just the weight loss or the fine weather we had this summer I'm not sure. I decided to wait a while and see him again in October.

As October approached I began to get different pains, not as short and intense as before - I think the weight loss has reduced the likelihood of these, but niggling pains that would wake me up several times most nights. My right buttock also continually felt as if I'd been kicked by a horse. So at the next consultation I took the decision to get the hip replaced. "We'll put you on the queue and it will be twelve to sixteen weeks before your operation".

So it was a bit of a shock on Wednesday evening to get a letter saying that my operation had been scheduled for late November! To say my jaw dropped when I read the letter is a bit of an understatement. The whole timescale was suddenly compressed: there are blood samples to give; pre-op assessment; another physio session; a session at a Joint Replacement Education Group; a visit by an Occupational Therapist checking furniture height at home (chairs have to be high enough so that my hip doesn't bend past 90degrees) then it's the operation.

After that it's a couple of weeks of inactivity then many weeks of recovery. The hard part for me will be not pushing too hard and trying to do too much too soon. I've got to let the joint stability build up, push it and I could pop the joint apart and need a revision. It will be a balancing act between boredom and improving.

Whatever happens, my future will be different.


  1. Hi Bob,

    Best of luck with the hip. My Mother had one over 25 years ago and she's still going strong (in spite of the fact that the joint is probably 15 years out of warranty by now)!


  2. Hi Bob,
    I found your blog having read your Bob Graham round website notes and info. I just wanted to say thanks for the really great resource. I'm not considering the BGR for a year or two but it's on my radar! By the way, good luck with the hip operation.

  3. Good luck Bob, I follow you on Twitter for BG stuff and thank you for your enormous contribution on that. My dad had both replaced in 1992 and regularly orienteers twice a week now at the age of 79. Unfortunately it didn't improve his nav.