Good Morning!

judith at retirementPre-surgery Gertie, at her Retirement Party

11/17/07

So here’s the scene: I am writing this from a small room in an extended care facility. I’m lying on my hospital bed, legs and upper body elevated by the creaking mechanics when I push the buttons on the control device which hangs from an unreachable position near my right side. My butt is wedged in the bottom of the ‘v’ shape of the bed position, but there’s no pressure on the broken hip that got me in here in the first place.

So positioned, I write. It’s about 5 am, I’ve just had a couple of tabs of the morning pain meds, and I know I’ve got about an hour before my mind shuts down and I start writing rubbish. Outside my door, I hear some telltale sounds of the world waking up—a distant television from another patient room, some assorted thuds and clangs from the nursing desk, and the cheerful conversation from the nurse. “Good morning, Mary. I’ve left your pain pill right here between your crackers and your water—see it?” and “Good Morning! Are you warm enough? Do you want your door open or closed?”

On this, the third day of my stay here, the sounds are comforting. People are greeted with unfailing good cheer and respect, despite the indignity of age and failing bodies. The smallest wish from a patient is treated with concern and humor—Mary wants help with her make up, and Luke needs bathroom assistance. For me, the goal is to need less and less help so that I can learn the new body skills required to maintain an artificial hip joint and a femur which has been cemented and wired into service by my 66 year-old body. “It’s not an approach I like to take with you young women,” my surgeon says, earning worship status in my mind for the rest of my life. “It’s just that you had some pretty degenerated bones in there, and we had to go to Plan B. But don’t worry…it should all be just fine.”

This was the second surgery, a “revision” as it is delicately known in the medical world. I think it’s a funny term—it means, “we went there once, and it didn’t work. We went back and tried again.” In my case, the original surgery did work, but I fell about two weeks into the recovery process, and an x-ray showed a broken bone at the site of the original joint replacement. Hence the ‘revision’. And the second recovery process, which involves one defeated and depressed patient (me), some worn-out though loving family members and friends, and a stay in the Orchard Creek extended care facility with the hopes that this time recovery will go the way it is supposed to, and I will ‘behave myself’ and not go tooling down the hallway in my walker at a speed everybody decides was ‘too fast for conditions’.

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