Monday, January 19, 2015

Two Week Countdown...

Two weeks from right about now, I'll be heading off to La-La Land under the influence of some incredible narcotic, with magic marker writing on my left leg saying "hey you, Dr. Surgeon, it's THIS leg".  A little over an hour later, I'll emerge with another bit of hardware inside me, a new left hip to balance the one I swapped out in the Summer of 2006 on the right side.  At that point, I had dragged my right leg behind me in pain for several years, and the operation was life changing.  This hip really started to bring me down about four years ago, so I guess I had four years in between of relatively smooth sailing.  My hope is that its replacement is equally affirming.

My intent is obviously to make the pain disappear.  Occasionally sharp, it is always present.  A three block walk from the Farragut West Metro to a meeting on 20th St in DC has become a bit of a slog, as I vault my way along the street with a noticeable "hitch in my get-along".  But the operation really means more than just the removal of pain; it is part of a general renewal timed to the occasion of my 50th Birthday this summer.  Some of you are aware of the "150's by 50" campaign, in which I seek to return to the weight class that when I was a 126 pounder, was inhabited by giant men of mythic power and strength.  In my mind, I am still 18 and 126 pounds, so 158 still has an element of immensity to it, even though it is 40.8 pounds less than the weight at which I started this decline.

The operation will remove the pain, the diet will remove the bulk, and then a serious--or at least a methodical--dedication to light exercise and flexibility will follow my rehabilitation.  I am a 49 year old man with the balance of an 80 year old, and I find myself avoiding behaviors and activities that a guy my age should be capable of pulling off.  The sight of me trying to get in a kayak next to our little floating pier resembles that of a freshly caught shark trying to flop its way off the deck of a charter boat.  So too is the comical act of mounting and dismounting a bicycle.  All of this flowing from what has effectively been fourteen years of favoring one side or the other.

Unfortunately, my surgery comes the day after the Super Bowl, and so I hope my surgeon favors neither team.  Actually, I hope he doesn't like football.  And I hope he hates Super Bowl parties.  The Kitten will be off until the night before on the 8th Grade Ski Trip with Kitten #2, and as she is my ride to hospital the next day, I will hope against all hope for no snow to impede their return.

There are a couple of ways of performing the surgery that I am to undergo. While both approaches involve Civil War Battlefield surgical techniques (saws, hammers, spikes, et), the "minimally invasive anterior approach" (which I will have) offers the promise of a quicker rehab because significantly less soft tissue/musculature is molested.  The incision is smaller, and it is made in the upper thight.  The other method "posterior total hip replacement" is what I had last time, and there is a goodly recover period involved. I got a nice 8 inch scar on the side of my right butt cheek out of that one.  Brother Sean had what I'm having last year, and his recovery proceeded at a much quicker pace than what I experienced 8 years ago.

Speaking of 8 years ago, it occurs to me that THAT hip is right around 25-30% of the way toward having to be replaced (again) itself, as these devices are known to wear down and require replacement.

I have begun espying a number of modifications to our bedroom that will enable my recovery.  Mostly easy things such as the removal of trip hazards (coffee tables, rugs), and the selection of the proper "recovery chair" where I will spend a good bit of time between walkered shuffles to and from the one shot Keurig machine I am installing in the bedroom and the john.  I will also set up a modest card table/folding chair setup and perch the laptop there to accommodate whatever work I think myself capable of as time goes on.  By mutual agreement, the Kitten will alight to the upstairs guest room for some period of time while I mend, so these modifications to our mutual space are not greeted with much dissension as I blather on about them.

I expect to be largely planted in my sickroom for the two weeks following the surgery, save for trips to physical therapy and the lab.  Should you happen through Easton, stop by and I will have a coffee with you.

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