When asked what she’s looking forward to in the future, La Royce Bathelor states confidently she hopes to have the strength in her senior years as the karate sensei’s she looks up to. One is 90 and still trains two hours a day, even after a knee replacement. One is 66 and recently beat throat cancer, a feat he chalks up to the physical and mental toughness he gained through karate.
“In karate, it’s necessary to lose yourself in it. Your mind is quieted, your body is completely engaged,” shared La Royce. “It’s extremely physically demanding. If you look into calories burned, it’s one of the top activities. It also provides an excellent recipe for vitality. In the years I’ve been doing karate, I have strength and mental focus like I’ve never had before. It allows me to approach situations that may cause panic with a level head and even hand.”
La Royce has a vibrant approach to life. Beyond being a black belt in karate, she teaches at UND and recently earned her PhD. She runs the karate dōjō in Grand Forks. She has two sons. She is busy. She is active. She is not willing to simply survive; she lives life to the fullest.
Over the past 30+ years, La Royce’s knee got in the way of her life. In high school, she hurt it during cross country and was told that she couldn’t run anymore. At the time, the doctors didn’t offer an alternative. She quit running and did activities that didn’t bother her knee so much. But, the nagging pain and fear of further injury remained. When she found karate in her 30s, the pain seemed to go away. Something about the practice of karate, possibly a combination of the mental strength and muscles built through the activity, made the pain move to the background of La Royce’s life. Then, three years ago, she landed funny after a jump, and the pain was back. She tried braces and basic care, but it wasn’t doing the trick. So, she made an appointment with Dr. William Haug Jr. at Altru Advanced Orthopedics.
“Dr. Haug did the full range of tests on my knee, including an MRI,” shared La Royce. “Afterward, he explained all of the things that were wrong with my knee – two tears in my meniscus, causing my knee to catch and click, bone spurs that were essentially chewing away at meniscus and a cyst that had formed to try to protect my knee from all of the damage. I had no clue it was that bad.”
They tried injections and draining of the knee for a short time, but shortly after Dr. Haug told La Royce this wasn’t going to cut it – she needed to have her knee fixed, and soon.
“I told him I did not have time for surgery,” shared La Royce. “I was preparing for nationals and my third degree black belt; surgery didn’t fit in my plan. So, he sat me down and we worked out a plan together. One that would allow me to accomplish the tasks I had before me, without causing further damage, then scheduling surgery so that my knee could be properly repaired. Dr. Haug worked out a timeline that would fit my life. That meant a great deal to me.”
In January of 2016, La Royce underwent surgery. Her knee was repaired, and she started the healing process.
“With every step, there was a detailed plan,” shared La Royce. “From surgery to recovery and rehab, I was given tons of information and a time table of the process. I was provided exercises and resources to help me recover my way. I don’t take medication, so my caregivers recommended alternative ways to manage my pain. To my surprise, the pain was minimal. Now, five months later, I am essentially back to full activity. I biked to work today – 7 miles. I feel great about that.”