If I gave up and let OA define me, I could easily succumb to depression or anger.

I still attend museum exhibits, although wandering for a few hours on stone floors exhausts me. I still go into Manhattan to see shows or visit friends or shop, even though the subway never seems to have a functioning elevator or escalator. I carry over-the-counter anti-inflammatories with me, but on a pain scale of 1-to-10, I need to hit about 6 or 7 before I’ll take one; my normal 24/7 pain level is usually a 2 or 3, which is nothing in my world.

But now I have to make a deliberate decision to have the surgery that – I hope – will rid me of this pain for good. I am constantly ambivalent about inserting an artificial hip into a youngish body so soon.

But I want my life back!

I’m planning the hip replacement for this winter so I can be strong, healthy and ready to run the bases with my softball team by next summer. What else is there to do in those long, cold months? Might as well get it over with then.

In the meantime, I need to remain feisty, independent and, yes, a little disobedient. It’s who I am. So I take my mountain bike out, not for the safe 20 minutes I’m allowed, but for 60 to 90 minutes, cruising a flat gravel path beside the Hudson River or a bike trail near my home. I recently saw two brown bunnies and a turtle, making whatever aches I suffer later well worth it.

Reveling in the smell of sun-warmed pine needles, the shrieking of hawks circling overhead and the late afternoon sunlight glowing through a rabbit’s ears remind me that the rest of my body, and my life, is just fine.

Award-winning journalist Caitlin Kelly is a regular contributor to the New York Times and author of the books Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail (Portfolio/Penguin, 2011) and Blown Away: American Women and Guns (Pocket Books, 2004). She lives in Tarrytown, N.Y.