You have to go through the falling down in order to learn to walk. It helps to know that you can survive it. That’s an education in itself.

Carol Burnett
"Training" to walk the Continental Divide Trail this summer begins on terrazzo.
“Training” to walk the Continental Divide Trail this summer begins on terrazzo.

It’s been almost four weeks since I had my second hip replaced. What a drama! I inherited my mother’s laugh and my father’s wanderlust, but also a disposition for osteoarthritis. By the time my surgeon cut out the bad joint, there wasn’t any cartilage left!

When I asked Dr. S if I could walk the Continental Divide Trail this summer, he seemed pretty unfazed. I guess it’s not really up to him, but up to my body and how fast and thoroughly it heals.

Since my surgery used the anterior approach, no muscles were cut and my recovery – while not pleasant – was relatively short. The Physical Therapist gave me a set of exercises at the surgery center to strengthen the muscles then told me, after a few weeks, just walk.

The surgeon told me that simple walking is the best therapy as the bone grows into the prosthetic.
Har Mar Mall in Roseville, Minnesota hosts a whole subculture of mall walkers.
Har Mar Mall in Roseville, Minnesota hosts a whole subculture of mall walkers.

That was music to my ears, of course, but I live in Minnesota and the sidewalks are icy and dangerous. So, it was off to the halls of malls for my rehabilitation. Safe and full of eye candy, I enjoyed my time “thru-hiking” a variety of indoor locations using my trusty Leki trekking poles for balance, but also to strengthen my droopy arms.

I visited Har Mar Mall in Roseville sporting wide halls for an entire subculture of indoor walkers jazzed to move by the adult rock playing over the sound system. At the Saint Paul Skyway, magic doors would spring open as I arrived with a whoosh or a ka-bong. It’s a bit sketch downtown and most people were sadly maskless, but I never felt unsafe. I was approached by a couple of dudes wondering if I was skiing with my poles.

Mall walking is safe and always has lots of eye-candy.
Mall walking is safe and always has lots of eye-candy.
I timed my walks near sunset so the winter darkness didn't compound my feeling of isolation.
I timed my walks near sunset so the winter darkness didn’t compound my feeling of isolation.

Maplewood Mall has a lovely carousel and a carpeted second floor. That’s where I started to take long strides, no hands. Rosedale is the home to the glowing moose and fantastic eats from local restaurants. It’s all about history at Southdale with wall text and photographs telling the story of a time forgotten when people dressed up to go to the mall. They also have wide halls and a 3,000 pound floor-to-ceiling bronze sculpture.

The Twin Cities’ signature mall is the Mall of America or MOA. I have special affection for this monstrous temple to capitalism because it was the first place I walked after surgery. No stores were open when we headed over, but the halls were available to put one foot in front of the other.

Today, nearly four weeks after my second hip replacement, I'm ready to risk a bit of ice.
Today, nearly four weeks after my second hip replacement, I’m ready to risk a bit of ice.


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  3. Robin Raplinger

    Alison, Good work on your recovery. I worked, during high school, at Burnsville Center (mall) and your comments are back some memories. I am also recovering from three broken ribs, and a small pneumothorax, after another skier that hit me from behind while I was patrolling. Painful but recovering and it is getting better. I’m at four weeks since the accident, which occurred on 1/12, today. Doctors told me 4-6 weeks. I must be on the 6 week program. I’m doing some light xc skiing and went for a run two days ago. Gotta get healed for my virtual Birkie! Keep up the recovery efforts ! Some how I think I’ll be seeing posts from you on the CDT this summer!

    • oh no!! I’m so glad you’re recovering well. It just stinks to lay low when we love to move. I’m taking it very conservatively so not on skis yet, but thinking very flat terrain in a month. Mostly I don’t want to fall and break the femur while it’s mending! But walking feels good. Take care and hopefully we’ll see you on the snow or water sometime soon. You’ve totally got this!

  4. marc reigel

    Hey, AY – I so enjoy your blogging about “recovery,” in the physical sense, getting your legs to work again. But in a larger sense, getting your mind and soul to work again, since very few things in the human experience are more soul-deadening and mindfulness-damaging than illness and / or infirmary. And you have had BOTH in the last six months, with hip surgeries and C-19 converging in a kind of double-whammy. I read your blogs telepathetically, in a way, “feeling” both your being and body heal as you go along. I think you invite us into your recovery process as a means of supporting your progress. And, concomitantly, that encourages us readers to do the same for ourselves. So, thank you. Oh, and OMT (One More Thing) – whoever was the videographer for your “Among the Halls of Malls” snippet, Richard or a friend, he or she produced a Hopper-like “painting” of Person and Edifice. Simply. Wonderful. Another “storyline” to think about . . . .

    • thank you, Marc! Yes, exactly, I share to let followers know how I’m managing and allow you to cheer me on to take on another long walk, but it’s also my goal to be a model, in some fashion, of getting through tough sections of our personal ‘thru-hikes.’ I am no expert and making it up as I go, but if I can do this, so can all of us.

      Richard is the videographer! He gets the angles, for sure, and the weird emptiness in some locations. It was kind of an accident, really, just snapping a photo of the glowing moose, when we realized how fun it looked my walking (waddling) through the scene. It made that stretch of rehab really fun.

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