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Hip to be Square**

April 13, 2012

As any of you started following me during last month’s re-organization challenge now know, I frequently bite off more than I can chew.  The last two weeks have been no exception to that.  For one, I went from considering volunteering to be PTA committee chair next year to committing to serve as President of the whole organization.  WHAT.  I’m sure much comedy will ensue from that appointment.  It’s pretty hilarious to think about it even now, but we’ll save all the fun for that once I’m actually elected.

This week, I discovered I need major orthopedic surgery.  And soon. So, ya know, busy as usual.

Around the time I was penning my last post, I started struggling to walk.  At first, I just thought it was a flare or the old leg “actin’ up” as we say down South.  I’ve had problems with my hips before (almost any person with rheumatoid arthritis has).  But this pain was worse. It didn’t come and go like usual. Heat, ice, rest, exertion, nothing was getting rid of it.  This pain was here to stay.  I saw several doctors and after a week of searching for answers (or relief, sweet Lord, RELIEF) I hobbled into a hip specialist’s office. He took a few x-rays and told me the scary news that I would need a total hip replacement in my right hip. Total total.  While I know well that many people with RA (especially people like me who have had it for 30+ years) have major joints replaced, I’ve lived long in denial that it would happen to me anytime soon. I had a plastic joint installed in my little finger when I was a senior in high school, so I’d decided that would do for a few decades (because stuff like that is up to me, HUBRIS!).  A bone spur here, a little something there, I could handle.  I just didn’t think that at age 33, mothering three kids, I was going to have to handle this.  But I am.

And before you give me the “at least you HAVE a leg to complain about!” speech, I know many people have lived through worse.  I’ve lived through worse (I think).  And I hate it when we all start making ourselves feel better about our situation by going, “well I don’t have it as bad as that sad sack,” but there is a need for perspective.  It probably won’t take more than a few months to recover, and in the span of 30 years with a good hip, that seems like small payment.  Still, it kinda puts a big old wrinkle in, well, everything.

For instance, it’s already completely altered my conversations.  I’m inundating my husband with what-if scenarios and “we have to figure this all out right now before you finish making those tacos!” talks.  I’m occasionally salting conversations with my kids with phrases like, “remember how Mommy used crutches last year after her foot surgery?” Because, yeah, last year I did that and I had a different surgery, same foot, the year before.  Come to think of it, every year for the last three years I’ve had something surgically altered or enhanced and it’s been on the right foot, or now, right leg.  It seems as if we’re stuck in some kind of medical malady loop.  Like a musculoskeletal version of Groundhog Day without the “I Got You, Babe” refrain (thank the good Lord).

Geez, I think that this blog has quickly gone from what I intended it to be (a silly/thoughtful Christian mommy blog) to an infirmity blog. Hooray! Because people love those. Nobody can turn down a good infirmity story.  People just love to hear about your tests.  And they love to see all of the photographs taken during the process like this one:

Yo, Shakira, my hips don't lie either. They tell the brutal truth. Like a slam book.

A friend of mine who had been through the drama of the tiny finger joint installation when I was in high school said, “Oh you’ll have more plastic in your body.”  It will actually be mostly metal, so I’m thinking less like Barbie more like Terminator.

I'm also coming to terms with the fact that Arnold is featured prominently on this blog, even though I'm totally team Shriver.

I learned some lessons from that surgery I had last year.  I went to buy some hand weights today to work on upper body/arm strength over the next month or so (I’m coming for you, infernal crutches!).  I’ve gotten better about letting others take care of me and take the load around the house.  What I will probably never get over (withstanding some miraculous transformation of character) is worrying that I’m causing them all too much trouble or that I’m ruining my children with some future “that was the time of year Mama always took to her bed” memoir.  A friend encouraged me that this is how good young adult literature is born.  I take heart in that since I’ll throw over anything I’m reading that’s scholarly or grown-up for a good YA trilogy (which usually comes in fours, weird.  Still working on the math there.).

I’ll be on my butt for quite a while. According to the internet, this is where I’m headed:

I exaggerate not when I say it's as if a sketch artist was recreating my grandma's spot in her nursing home. Minus the large-print address book, which I probably won't need since I rarely keep up with correspondence anymore.

It’s entirely possible that Pinterest will explode because of all the traffic I’ll be bringing it.  Look out single girls planning imaginary weddings! ‘Cause nothing spawns an overwhelming stint of wishful thinking like being stuck upstairs by your bedroom window while all the other moms spend their summer outside playing in the sprinkler.  Mothers don’t do that where you live?  That’s a horrible neighborhood.  You should move.  We have a detachable shower head, so I’ll make do, I suppose.  And I’ll have a bunch of torturous physical therapy to do.  Maybe someone will buy me this for recovery:

My kind of "walker"

One thing I might do, and this is still a might, is actually chronicle some of this “journey” (doesn’t that sound inspiring?  All the infirmity blogs are supposed sound like this, I think).  I’ve been digging on the web for over a week trying to find someone like me who’s been through this and I’ve come up with many blogs by active people talking about their parents’ hip surgery.  Not helpful for my situation.  I also found one relatively young woman who blogged about hip replacement (still 15 years or so my senior), but I really want to know its possible to go through this as a family and be okay.  Alright, I know I can trust God for that, but let’s see YOU do it.  I want to but it’s not that easy. This is one of those situations where Contemporary Christian music can make you feel better (because it’s encouraging to hear God is with you) yet worse (because as I just said, it’s not that easy, and it sounds easy when it’s put to POP MUSIC).

If I’m honest, what I really want to know as a person about to undergo this (you know, besides the whole future) is:  how much does it hurt? I’ve had surgeries before and I know the fun and the blissful sleep of the good medicines.  I’m used to hurt, even surgical pain, but this is the biggest joint you can have installed and it seems like that would smart…a lot.  So I might come back every now and them and tell y’all how much it hurts. Not in some graphic “here’s a photo of the blood-crusted scarrrrr!” kind of way, and not on some stupid completely subjective scale.

Again I defer to the much funnier (and more profane if you like that sort of thing) blog, Hyperbole and a Half.

My chronicle of chronic illness probably won’t consume this space, because after all, I still have mouthy opinions about almost everything else and those can be even funnier (at least to me) when I’m on pain meds.  For those of you who just pop by to hear me go off about the latest Kirk Cameron project, I’ll try to be here with that still, but you might have to put up with Sickly Becky for a while.  Alas, that’s just the broken, beat-up package that fun comes in sometimes.

It seems one lesson I’m always re-learning (Inspirational Infirmity Blog points for “lessons!”) is that my disease really is a part of my story.  It makes me the resilient and compassionate person I am.  It also makes me the neurotic and snide…well, you can get that last bit on ABC this season.  Point is, it’s an ongoing thing for me and it’s natural that I would talk about it and identify with it, so I should just let go of that and stop trying to pretend (like I always do, mostly for the sake of healthy people who don’t get it) that it’s not a big deal.  I’m a Christian mommy blogger with an infirmity.  It’s going to come up. And that’s okay…

Senator Al Franken FTW, ladies and gentlemen.

**I couldn’t think of a decent title this week, so I went with a pun using the worst Huey Lewis and The News song ever recorded.  If you try to write a comment defending them on this, you may be reported for internet crimes.  Just sayin’.

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