Here's Why 'Life Below Zero' Star Andy Bassich Was Using Crutches

Anna Quintana - Author

Apr. 20 2021, Updated 1:25 p.m. ET

Andy Bassich
Source: National Geographic

Upon initially re-joining the cast in 2019, viewers of Life Below Zero were glad to see Andy Bassich back in action in Alaska. However, there was something different about the 63-year-old: he was using crutches. 

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So, what happened to Andy on 'Life Below Zero'? 

Well, it turned out Andy had to leave the Last Frontier to treat a hip injury he sustained in the winter of 2018. 

"I've been gone for six months due to a really bad hip injury," he told cameras at the time. "Couldn't get the treatment I needed in Alaska so I headed down to Florida to get the treatment I needed and spent the last six months with my girlfriend Denise." 

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andy bassich crutches
Source: National Geographic

Andy sustained the injury when he was moving a snow machine that had gotten stuck in the snow. 

"I ended up with two infections — one in the muscle, one in the bone — and it almost killed me," he explained. "It's time to get back to my home in Calico Bluff, play a little bit of catch up this summer with getting my dogs back down there, getting my house back in order... It's been unmanned and unguarded for six months so I have no idea what kind of conditions I'm going to be walking into. It's going to be challenging to get everything done using [crutches]."  

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Injury aside, fans were also interested in learning more about Andy's girlfriend, Denise Becker. When we first met Andy on Life Below Zero, he was married to his wife, Kate Rorke. However, the couple split in 2015 and Kate is currently living in Canada. 

Kate gave followers an update in a video post at the time. "It's good to be home," she shared. "The memories are good, the friends are good, and it's nice to be around people who have known me since the beginning of time it seems as we get older... You guys, you all got me here and you saved my life in a way, so love to you. Over and out." 

andy bassich girlfriend denise
Source: National Geographic
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Who is Andy's newest love, Denise? The two are very similar.

Andy met Denise, who is a trauma nurse from Florida, almost four years ago while she was on a canoe trip with a Boy Scouts troop. Denise also made it very clear that she can hang with Andy in the Alaskan wilderness. "I was born in Canada, grew up knowing what hard work was about," Denise said. "My family homesteaded up in northern Saskatchewan, a farm, which is still an active, hardworking farm. Calico Bluff is full of work, full of great work. Real work that counts at the end of the day.

And Andy definitely knows he would not be able to survive in Alaska without the help of his tough girlfriend. "If I didn't have a partner to help me, there's no way I could've come back here and accomplished what I need to do," he gushed back then. 

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andy bassich injury
Source: National Geographic

Now, it's all just about taking things one day at a time for Andy and Denise. "The big thing I've got to keep in mind is that I always try to do too much," Andy said. "I've got to make sure I don't do something to hurt myself worse... Right now I just have to downsize my expectations a little bit." 

Watch Life Below Zero Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on National Geographic. 

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