This week went by faster than most. I was focused on a medical evaluation that happened on Wednesday. Somehow my Monday slipped by, even with appointments and a dinner party. Tuesday came and went, and was filled with purposeful activity, but I was still distracted because of the upcoming medical appointment. Finally, Wednesday arrived.
The older I get, the more medical appointments fill me with dread. I think this is mostly because the odds of having something wrong seem to be increasing with age. I walk away from most exams with a feeling of relief that nothing was found and I can go about my unconscious ways for a while longer.
This time, I was focused on meeting a specific goal that would allow me to qualify for hip replacement surgery. I have been steadily losing weight now for many months. This was in preparation for meeting a BMI that was the requirement for surgery to be done safely. The last week was the worst. I had met my weight goal, but suddenly went on a binge and feared I would be told that the surgery would have to be delayed. I was consumed during the entire drive to the medical offices with arguments in my head where I would plead for the doctors to make an exception so that I would be relieved of my pain.
I arrived at the facility, made my way in, registered and sat nervously in the waiting room. It wasn’t too long (thank God!) before I was called in for x-rays. I was given a pair of paper shorts to wear, as my slacks would have obscured the film. I actually had weighed my clothes before leaving for the appointment, just so I could say that it was their total weight that was putting me over the top. The medical assistant stepped out and let me put on my new togs, then returned and took my blood pressure. It must have been off the charts! She then asked me to get on the scale. I held my breath, closed my eyes, and gave it all over to God. When next I peaked, I literally let out a yelp of delight as the digital read out showed I had come in below the BMI requirement.
From that point forward, it didn’t matter what the staff asked of me – I was floating. They poked and prodded, and then had me wait in a room for the surgeon. By this time I was calmer, but still somehow expected to be told I would have to come back another time. Instead, the surgeon looked at my x-rays, told me the risks and benefits of the surgery, handed me a brochure on what to expect afterwards, shook my hand and said he would see me in a few weeks. I changed back into my slacks, negotiated dates with the scheduler, and made my way back home.
That was Wednesday morning. I saw patients Wednesday afternoon, did pre-op blood work Thursday morning, met with a contractor Thursday afternoon, had dinner with friends, and drove home under a beautiful full moon. Friday, I did paperwork, saw more patients, and finally, collapsed. I had been living on adrenalin for three days! Once that ran out, the pain returned.
Truth is I have been in pain for almost seven years now. I suspect there are many of you who are all too familiar with the exhaustion that chronic pain causes. It makes me grumpy, forgetful, distractible, and mostly very, very sad. It has a way of stealing joy out of a beautiful day and making tomorrow something to dread rather than anticipate. Pain is so essentially human. Its very existence is required for our survival, and its persistence has led to humans trying virtually every substance and combination of substances in an attempt to find relief.
In my case, I have found relief through anti-inflammatory medications, massage, and chiropractic care. Without my care providers, I would have been in worse shape, believe me!
Now, however, I can taste the freedom! In sharing my good news, many folks have told me of their experiences with this kind of surgery, and I have to say, all have been very positive! I feel blessed to be living in an age where the technology and surgical techniques are at a level that this kind of operation is done thousands of times a year, just in my area alone. I feel gratitude for having access to quality medical care and having insurance that will cover the expenses of my stay in the hospital and the physical therapy and after care I may need.
I am acutely aware that such care is not available to all. Not in this country, nor around the world. I can look forward to a quick recovery and return to work with minimal problems. So many people have huge barriers, or may not be able to have such life-changing surgery at all. I am among the lucky few who will be granted a reprieve from pain and an opportunity to live a longer, healthier life.
I don’t take this for granted. I recognize that I have been given a chance to get my life back because of the skills of my surgeon and the availability of the intervention. But I am the one who will need to change my exercise habits, my eating, and my attitude. I don’t want to be in pain again, if I can help it.
There are things I have planned. Places I want to visit. Courses I want to teach. Books I want to write. All this requires that I get healthy and stay healthy. Stay tuned to this blog. I will be sharing my journey in the weeks to come.