I apologize for the silence here at The Jiu Jitsu Journey. As I explained in the last post, I have a major surgery looming on the horizon that is going to forevermore change the trajectory of my own jiu jitsu journey. So I have had a ton of work-related things to square away ahead of the procedure (e.g., finishing a grant proposal, going up for tenure, etc.). That said, here is an update for the curious:
As I explained earlier, I have been having some increased problems with my neck (which is starting to cause neurological problems in my hands--especially my right dominant hand). After getting a second opinion last week, I got the same diagnosis and the same suggested solution (a two level fusion at C5/6 and C6/7). After some additional testing of my muscles and nerves, it appears that the nerve damage that has been bothering me is likely permanent already. Moreover, after the surgery, given that 3 of 5 of my cervical disks will be fused, I was told that rolling (even lightly) would be irrational and put me at risk for a catastrophic rupture that could lead to paralysis. I was also told that it would be reckless to continue to roll leading up the surgery. The doctor is a UFC/MMA fan, a former wrestler, and he's even performed surgery on former UFC fight Nate Quarry. So, he appreciates what we do and I trust what he is telling me is the rational way forward.
As such, with a very heavy heart, I had my final roll recently with one of my very favorite training partners at the end of a morning class. After nearly ten years of bouncing around, soaking up knowledge, and trying to improve my game, I am formally hanging up my belt. Obviously, the timing is especially cruel--given that the new gym is finally starting to take off (see here). But I have known this day would eventually come since my first fusion back in 1996. I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of the folks from Devine Jiu Jitsu Charleston--from the blue and purple belts to the (now) black belts--for all of the time and energy they've invested in helping me improve. I have grown as a person and a practitioner of jiu jitsu in the two years I have spent with the Devine clan.
It has been a utopic environment to learn and share the gentle art. Moving forward, I plan to assist in teaching as much as possible so my own jiu jitsu journey can continue to move forward (even if it is not the journey I would prefer). The surgery is on Dec. 1st and for a few months I will be completely out of service. But as soon as I am cleared to rejoin the crew, I will do so with a continued interest in learning as much as I can while sharing what I know. For now, thanks once again for all of the rolls. It has been an honor and privilege to have such a knowledge base to draw on and learn from since I joined the family.
In closing, I ask a single favor from each of you: Don't take for granted the "pure joy of the roll" Scott talked about during the black belt ceremony. For one day, some roll will be your last. I just wish mine hadn't already come to pass. But at least it was with someone from the Devine clan.
p.s. For those interested in the more technical details of the procedure, I will have a two level anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF). Rather than using a bone graft and anterior plates and screws, the surgeon is using a bone 'glue" plus an internal retention ring with screws. The fusion should take ten months to fully heal/bond. I go in on Dec. 1st for the procedure. Wish me luck! At that point, the next leg of my journey officially begins!