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The Titanium Hip

“Will I need a special card saying I have metal in my hip if I set the detector off at the airport?” said Hunter Hubel a month before we went on vacation to Florida.

It’s always nice to joke about something years after it happened, but never make light of a situation, I’ll explain later on.

Hunter Hubel (red) putting on Day 2 of National Tournament. Image taken by Grace DePietro

Hunter Hubel is a Division II golfer for the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. He transferred there after having a remarkable spring season at Cayuga Community College averaging a score of 75, winning 5 out of 9 regular season tournaments he participated in, and placing 7th in the NJCAA Division III National Championship.

“What a week out in Chautauqua that was (talking about the National Championship). I had a really rough start to the week, I was so nervous, playing in my first BIG tournament.” I was able to bounce back with a decent round and 2 solid rounds. +21 through 4 days definitely isn’t my best, but managed to finish 7th in the National Championship, as well as being named Second Team All-American.”

The fall semester was tough for Hubel. Adjusting to a new school, new teammates, and finding his way academically really affected his golf.

“When I was golfing I was worrying about school, when I was doing schoolwork or in class, I was worrying about golf. It was a stressful time.”

Hubel only participated in 3 events in the fall of 2019. He averaged a score of 80.6 and his lowest round was a 74. Going from a small Division III community college in Fulton, NY to a DII school in Albany, Hubel had to adjust, but is hopeful for the 2021 season to begin April 12 at LeMoyne College in Syracuse.

NE10 Championship

However, it is actually a blessing that he is even playing, let alone walking again. In his senior year of high school, Hubel starting to feel a lot of discomfort in his right hip. He couldn’t describe the feeling to me, it was painful to swing a golf club and that is all that concerned him. He told me he begged his parents to go to the doctors and when they sent him home he insisted they go somewhere else. “I knew something was wrong, if I didn’t pressure my parents into going somewhere else, I don’t know how bad this would’ve gotten.”

So after some testing and quite a few doctors visits, it was official. I found an old Facebook post of him announcing to his family what was going on.

“I have an aneurysmal bone cyst in my right hip that needs to be taken out. Just my luck, any other type of cyst would be an easy process, of course this one requires surgery and the process isn’t easy. Screws, plates, some sort of filling, all of the good stuff. February 16th, a week before my birthday, will start the road to recovery. Being out 4-6 weeks won’t be easy, but I am definitely lucky that it isn’t longer. Words cannot express how beyond frustrated I am, and ready to wake up that Thursday afternoon hopefully heading home. I look forward to the recovery process, and I am thankful to have two great parents helping me through it. Needless to say, I am terrified, but will push on.”

He told me it could’ve been cancerous but he was lucky.

While the pain was unbearable before the surgery, after the surgery was a different story. “The entire right side of my leg was bandaged up, a titanium plate was in my leg, and 2 IV’s in my left arm. I found out that I couldn’t stomach the pain killers, I threw up so many times and it took forever for nurses to finally got given an IV for nausea.”

Photo of Hunter Hubel’s Hip

I asked him how his recovery went, and he laughed and said he should’ve listened to the doctors. To this day he still has some pain which has been deemed to be tendonitis. I rushed it, he told me. The biggest regret of athletes is that they rush back and suffer the consequences. Hunter did that. He rushed through PT, started swinging the club too early and even participated in a soccer tournament just a few months after surgery, landing on his hip. Stupid, he says, just stupid.

Hubel also just found out he has a labrum tear in his left hip. Even though he had surgery on the right hip, he believes that he has been so dependent on the left hip that is resulted in this injury. Another surgery is headed his way in the summer.

“I can fight through this like I did the last. I’m lucky enough to play this spring semester and can hold off until summer to get the surgery.”

The titanium hip has been stubborn, ruthless and straight up annoying. You can feel the plate in his hip, the scar is everlasting, forever reminding him of the pain he went through. He’s lucky to say the least. He has found humor in it though. “I’m going to have arthritis by 30,” is a famous one among family and friends. I usually call it the titanium hip, because I have been hip checked by it before, not fun.

“No,” said the airport customer service, “You don’t need to have a card saying you have metal in your hip.”

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