A special patient’s poem just two weeks after her fifth hip surgery.
Dear Dr. Leone,
There’s nothing like a major operation to humble you. Pain that makes even the most automatic movements a challenge, assisted trips to the bathroom, and drug induced wooziness (not to mention hospital gowns) all serve to remind you of your frailty.
On the other hand, appreciation for increasing strength and ease of motion, for the kindness of people who help and for the ordinary things in life can be as rejuvenating as physical healing itself.
In the verses of my original poem, A Revisionist History, I tried to capture some of these thoughts before they were lost in the busyness that returns with recovery.
My mind accepts what must be done,
But feral fears deep underneath
Hear the plans and scream, “No! Run!”
Kicking, clawing, gnashing teeth.
The light is bright. I’m lying down,
Wearing a hospital gown.
The IV needle’s in my hand.
Now I’m off to La-La Land.
I would like to ascertain,
By whatever means it takes,
If perhaps a speeding train
Crashed into me without its brakes.
At last I have blocked out the monitor’s beep
And thanks to the pain meds, have fallen asleep.
But every few minutes, my dreams are forsaken
In order to have pulse and blood pressure taken.
There’s something to be pleased about:
The catheter’s been taken out,
Which is an immense improvement.
Now I await a bowel movement.
They say I must begin to exercise.
They tell me how to move my leg. I try,
Then gasp and grit my teeth and close my eyes.
I think they left a scalpel in my thigh.
Oh dear. I have to pee again. I have to call the nurse,
Who’ll help me shuffle to the bathroom where I will be seated?
Upon a high-rise toilet with my IV pole. But worse,
In just a while, the whole ordeal will have to be repeated.
The tube in my arm reaches up toward the ceiling.
Inflatable booties are pumping my feet.
Wires are stuck to my chest and I’m feeling
Like something a spider has captured to eat.
It is important to avoid
The dangers of the opioid.
Yet two days post-op, I’m confessing
Hydrocodone is a blessing.
I solemnly promise I won’t cross my knees,
I won’t flex my hip more than ninety degrees.
I’ll limit weight-bearing to fifty percent
And hold my foot straight. At least that’s my intent.
My walker helps me move around alone
As I await the healing of my hip.
And yet, it makes me feel like an old crone.
It is a true love/hate relationship.
Pump your feet as you lie on the bed (not a couch).
It’s best if you’re wearing loose, comfortable slacks.
Slide your leg to the side with your toes up straight. Ouch!
Squeeze your buttocks and hold for five seconds. Relax.
The line between what I can do
And what I can’t is hazy.
Are precautions the main issue,
Or Am I being lazy?
I’m settled in the chair to read,
Surrounded by the things I need.
At least I was. Alas, no more-
I dropped my reacher on the floor.
When I no longer have pain when I move,
When my leg is no trouble to bend or to lift,
I hope I’ll remember that what these things prove
Is: a body that works is a wonderful gift.
Six weeks out from my surgery, having graduated from a walker to a cane, I feel energetic and very thankful for your creative artistry in the repair of a hip that has now seen the bright light of the operating room five times. I think fainter hearts and less skilled hands would probably have refused the undertaking. I’m also grateful to Susan and Tamara and everyone at Holy Cross. And of course to God.
I can’t wait to start figure skating lessons. Just kidding J