It wasn’t long ago that Rehoboth Beach resident Mitch Selbiger dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. It wasn’t because he feared what lay ahead of him, or hated what he did for a living, or even because he just wanted to get more sleep.
It simply hurt too much.
Now nearly 10 years removed from dual hip replacement surgeries, simply saying that Selbiger is a changed man is an understatement, to say the least. The New Jersey native has gone from barely being able to walk from his bedroom to his kitchen to someone today who is, at times, pre-occupied with physical fitness and with getting the most out of life.
His life has taken a 180-degree turn since the first time he visited Dr. Wilson Choy at Beebe Medical Center back in 2006.
“There’s literally no comparison with what I’m able to do now versus what I was able to do back then,” says Selbiger, now the director of operations and agent development with the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty in Rehoboth Beach. “He changed my life forever, and I will always be a big supporter of Dr. Choy and of Beebe Medical Center.”
With his new lease on life, Selbiger ran his first five-kilometer (5K) race in 2009, finishing with a time of 28 minutes and 59 seconds.
Truth be told, his finishing time really didn’t matter all that much. What really meant the most to Selbiger is that he was in the race to begin with, and not at home resting after a simple trip to the grocery store.
It was a long time coming, one that included an extensive career in the world of technology and more than a decade owning and operating a small health food store on Rehoboth Avenue, in addition to earning his real estate license in 2002 and becoming a broker five years later.
But no matter what Selbiger accomplished in the professional realm, his declining health was always a factor in his day-to-day life. With even a simple trip to the grocery store or going out to dinner with friends ending in the obligatory two hours of recovery time in bed, his daily life was certainly a challenging one.
But that was then, and this is now. Today, Selbiger is the poster child for what your life can be, if you want to make a change badly enough.
“I really feel like there’s always a solution and you can make changes in your life that can and will affect you in dramatic ways,” he says. “And I also believe you should make those changes if you can. If you can better yourself, get over your fears and just make it happen.
“Life is short and you really need to make the most of it.”
Today, Selbiger’s life is dominated by traveling and by physical fitness, in addition to his duties with the Oldfather Group. It’s certainly a far cry from where he was just a few short years ago.
He now runs three days a week, competes in 5Ks and travels to exotic destinations all over the world. That includes what he describes as his greatest accomplishment – a 14-day hike through the Himalayas that he completed a few years ago.
It’s a trip that included climbing many of the region’s mountainous peaks and looking down upon Nepal from 12,000 feet above sea level. It was a surreal accomplishment for someone who, until just a few years before, was extremely limited in his physical abilities.
“It was really a major accomplishment for me and just an awe inspiring moment that I’ll never forget,” Selbiger admits. “I never expected that I would have the ability to do something like that.”
That particular trip ended with a week alongside the late Matt Haley in Nepal, visiting orphanages and schools and seeing a side of the region that many people don’t have a chance to see. Haley died a short time later while riding a motorcycle in India.
Now 58 years old, Selbiger is living life to the fullest, partly because he knows what it’s like to be left on the sidelines, wanting more than ever to participate but not being physically able to do so.
He takes absolutely nothing for granted and he greets each sunrise as a new opportunity for making his mark on the world.
“I have my life back and I’m just determined to make the most of it,” he says. “I encourage everyone else to do the same.”