Date of Surgery: 2/21/2018
Update (7/2018): Richard will be completing his final month of physiotherapy and will return to guiding full-time very soon.
I grew up and still live in the small mountain town of Golden British Columbia. Growing up in a climbing and skiing family, it was very easy to embrace the lifestyle and continue it on with the same values and concepts that my parents taught their children.
I’ve now spent 30 years working as an IFMGA/ACMG mountain guide based in Canada and throughout the alpine world. My career has involved mostly backcountry lodge based skiing in British Columbia, along with years of heli-skiing and ice guiding for the winter months. In the summer months, alpine rock guiding has kept me busy. For a majority of those years, I have also worked with the training and examination program for the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides. For several years, I also focused on the World Cup level of mixed ice climbing, winning some of the larger invitational events like The Ouray Ice Fest and Festiglace in Canada. Now I spend my summers enduro mountain bike racing and still ski guide during the winter months through my own business.
Treatment Procedure and Recovery Plan
Guiding year around for 30 years definitely will take a toll on the body joints. Last fall, I found myself experiencing some hip issues. Further investigation revealed the need for a hip resurfacing procedure. The procedure I ended up having is called the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing Procedure. When I finally found out what I needed and by whom, I went to see Dr. James Pritchett based in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Pritchett has done many hip resurfacing procedures and he even personally called me on the phone to chat about my condition and the procedure. Not something that would normally happen in Canada. I was treated at an out patient facility, and crutched out of there only a couple of hours after my 2 hour surgery. Staying locally for a few days at a client’s house was crucial to being able to manage the inflammation and also to remain close to the surgeon in case of implications. No main painkillers were taken, I just experienced some discomfort that was easily taken care of with icing. Within 4 days, I was hobbling around without crutches and flew back home to recover. I started physiotherapy within a week and was able to gently spin on a stationary bike within 1 week. I was able to still backcountry ski in deep soft snow right up until the procedure date, yet I was definitely losing strength and range of motion. I also had started riding a stationary bike to keep strong and also work with flexibility and massage. I really believe that going into the surgery as strong as possible was absolutely key to my initial rapid recovery. The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation also covered 6 months of post surgery physio which I have seen a huge benefit. I am the type of person that will tend to stray from specific physio exercise if I am feeling strong enough to resume normal activity. The regular physio appointments has helped me stay on track, especially with that last bit of range of motion along with strength and movement that you will not totally get back with just doing normal activity. In the beginning, recovery was rapidly changing on a daily level, now I’m measuring monthly results. Patience is critical, as I’m finding that it is easy to overdo activity when you are feeling strong and capable. I am expecting that I will be healing from the soft tissue damage that occurs with the hip dislocation part of the procedure for a year or more. At 5 months post surgery, I am now able to enjoy all my activities to a high level again, though I’d say I’m operating about 85% for strength and flexibility/range of motion.
"In Canada, I was placed on a 15 month waiting list. Although it would not have cost me any of my own funding, that was pretty unacceptable as far as my own health and welfare. Symptoms were rapidly getting worse. This was quite depressing. I would end up missing 2 seasons of guiding if I waited for the Canadian surgery dates, not to mention a huge change in lifestyle and also financial implications. My friend and guiding peer, Evan Stevens, told me about the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation. He had used the foundation to help him fast track a knee operation during a previous winter. Within just a few weeks of completing my application and receiving a determination, I went through with a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing Procedure in Seattle Washington. The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation was always there with any questions and direction that I needed, which was great. Thank you very much!! It is absolutely incredible that there are individuals like the Brenninkmeyer family who has provided this very unselfish means for people who are in a quick need for medical help. Without the financial assistance, I would have been quite challenged with the costs of the procedure. The Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation actually covered the costs of my flight down to Seattle and back, the entire surgery costs, and 6 months of post-surgery physiotherapy. Accommodations costs would also have been covered, but I was fortunate enough to have a very good client and now friend take care of me while in Seattle post surgery. I am most grateful to the foundation to make this happen for me in a very timely manner and along with the direction and assistance of getting everything in line on my end."
- Richard Marshall