The Alexei Yagudin fans out there might know of a documentary produced by Channel 1 from 2007 named Любовь, боль и лед (Love, Pain and Ice). This documentary was the first time I have heard about Alexei's long going hip problems and his subsequent hip replacement surgery. It's a great skating documentary but it is in Russian. Nevertheless, I'm also attaching the videos' word inscription to be found here, anyone interested can put the file in google translate and read it.
Love Pain and Ice Part 1
Basically, Alexei talked in detail about how his degenerative hip bone affected his life quality. At the time, I thought I understood his difficulties and sympathised with a situation where you are constantly in pain and uncomfortable.
A few weeks ago, after suffering from a sudden bout of constant hip pain, I went to see a doctor. You see, I had a heavy fall as an (very) amateur adult skater in 2007 and since then had on again off again hip pain. So I went in to hear something about micro breaks or something similar but instead with an initial diagnosis of sacroiliitis, I was shipped off to different departments for a differential with potential chronic autoimmune diseases. While waiting for results, I read about my potential prognosis. Constant and persistent life long pain was the first thing that jumped off the pages. Being in pain for days at that moment, I simply couldn't see how anyone can deal and go on living a normal life with something like this on a permanent basis. Suffice to say, I broke down.
My diagnosis since then has been indeterminate. I solely seem to be suffering from degenerative hip issues but more severe possibilities could not have been 100% ruled out. Oh and I have been told to not set foot on ice again. Now, having gone through hell for 10 days and only recently having stopped aching, my first thought was "How can I never skate again?". And I am just a very amateur skater. I am not a pro, I am not a top level competitor. But still..
When hearing about stories like Alexei, I always thought the price surely must not be worth it. And even if you are not completely broken like Alexei but seem to suffer from various chronic ailments like say Plushenko, surely you wouldn't think of going back to ice to compete while risking more permanent injuries. I simply couldn't understand it. But denial (or rejection) is a very potent aphrodisiac. Despite all the worries for your health, staying away from something you love is so difficult. I think there are skaters who skate because after a certain point they don't know anything else and there are those who simply must skate. Knowingly risking your health to skate & compete again is a non-issue for them. I think I kind of understand their motivation now. I think I might step on that ice again, even if only for one last time.