Rooting out the pain. Retired NHLer raising awareness of arthritis.
Darcy Rota is no stranger to pain.
He’s got a few scars from multiple surgeries to his shoulder and back to prove it. He also played a gritty brand of professional hockey in a career that lasted a decade, notably for his hometown team, the Vancouver Canucks.
“Still, I never had any issues with my knees throughout my career”, says the 67-year-old Vancouver resident.
Four years ago, as the former athlete enjoyed retirement, a searing pain to the knee slowly crept up and took over. Since taking long family walks with the dog and golfing were some of the things he enjoyed the most, it posed a challenge.
“I learned to roll with the punches and to live with it, but it clearly became an issue. I bit on it for almost two years.”
Eventually, Darcy consulted a professional and the words uttered in the examination room left the B.C. Sports Hall of Famer dizzy.
“I was stunned. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. At first I didn’t even know where to turn to. The doctor told me my knee was virtually bone on bone; that there wasn’t any cartilage left.”
Darcy was lost at first. He was focusing on the things he might never be able to do anymore. He started wearing a knee brace that helped a bit but the much-needed solution was a radical one. He would need knee replacement surgery.
“I actually called my surgeon today to thank him again. It’s been two years since the surgery and I can now say I’m pain-free. He pretty much gave me my old life back.”
The first Canucks left-winger to score 40 goals in a single season is adamant: he was lucky. He only waited 3 months to receive his surgery and it drastically enhanced his quality of life.
Nowadays, he wants to give back and prevent others from going through the same unnecessary pain he endured.
“If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself not to wait that long before seeing a professional. I didn’t know better. Now if I can raise awareness and help the Arthritis Society with their amazing work, maybe that will help others down the road. I’d like that.”