Sunday, January 18, 2009

Your Body is a Self-Correcting Wonderland

What a difference a couple of days make. For anyone reading this who might be contemplating having this surgery: Even under the best of circumstances (and I've had them all -- excellent surgeon and hospital staff, great PT, plenty of self-motivation to do as much of what I'm told as possible, a sensitive and earnest caregiver and supportive family and friends, nowhere I gotta be for the next few weeks) let there be no illusions; the first week is hard. Make that HARD

It reminds me of childbirth. Everyone tells you not to think of the contractions as "pain" yet it's hard to call them anything else when you are in the middle of them. And as with childbirth, you'd like to think that the pain you go through just after hip resurfacing surgery will all be worthwhile and will bring to you a new joy you never had before, or at least not since you developed AVN or arthritis or whatever caused the hip to go bad in the first place. Only in this case there is the added benefit of not having to change anyone else's diapers while you recover! (Don't get me started on what a great idea I think the catheter is and how much I miss it every time I have to -- joyously -- struggle out of bed and into the arms of my walker to get myself over to the bathroom to empty my bladder.

But I do know that in all likelihood, this will all be worth it and I will be able to get back to living my life, taking long walks, taking my 12 year old son places (if he'll agree to be seen with me at this point in his life), and getting back to playing music.

The daylight brings relief, but trying to sleep the first three nights I was out of the hospital (3rd-5th nights post-op) were a unique brand of hell. It really didn't help being forced out of the hospital without warning by my insurance company, whose name I want to shout from the rooftops: "Achtung MDIPA/United Healthcare".  MDIPA used to be decent, and probably not by coincidence, accepted by most doctors and medical establishments. But then they were purchased by United Healthcare. This organization is obviously committed to and bound by their euphemistic title. They are fiercely united in their bold mission to keep people from getting actual healthcare, instead offering something that sounds and looks very much like healthcare, but is limited by its unified focus on The Bottom Line. Anyway, I'll stop now, but I think I could have really used one more night with the wonderful nurses at Sinai -- Roselle and Denise.

Adrian picked me up Wednesday evening from the hospital and tried to keep me as "comfortable" as possible, and I tried to obey the rules by sleeping on my back with the gigantic V-shaped foam wedge strapped between my legs but I eventually rebelled against what felt like the set of a bad horror movie (not "Redneck Zombies, Peri), and designed my own fortress of pillows with which to prop myself up during sleep. But three nights of intolerable pain and frustration led me to a kind of "breakdown" while also turning out to be a sort of "breakthrough". Poor Adrian felt the brunt of my lashing out but we got through it, and I actually had a bit of better sleep that night.

By now it's Sunday night, 6 days post-op, and I've improved immensely. The PT exercises are a little easier, getting around is a little easier, and I've become more independent every day, though I can't prepare meals or carry even a glass of water while using my walker, so I'm still very much dependent on others. Adrian goes back to work tomorrow and his neighbor Candy has offered to help me with meals. And my friend Susan Pratt very kindly packed Adrian's freezer with nutritious, homemade frozen meals for me.

I'll be able to switch to a cane at some point and am thinking of buying a wooden one and some acrylic paints and using the downtime to paint it. I'll be using it for 5 or 6 weeks, so I might was well make it artful!

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