Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hip Hip (Hip) Hooray!

Today I celebate an anniversary. An anniversary where I learned about pain, prayer and letting go of anger. I didn’t do the anger and pain so well. The prayer was a healer and an old friend I have come to rely on.
It was one year ago today, that I drove to the dump with a friend and ceremoniously threw away my cane, crutches and walker.
For the 2 previous years before that, I had 3 hip replacements in the span of a year and a half. Yes I said 3. I know you’re sitting there thinking, “is she on crack or something?”
We only have 2 hips. Well, here’s the story..
1st Hip Replacement 3 weeks after surgery, therapist knocked it loose from aggressive treatment. The orthopedic surgeon said it also might have had a “design flaw”. What the hell, was it part of a car?

2nd Hip Replacement 5 months later, the same surgeon then replaced it with a different model, but one that had not quite gotten FDA approval. Swell.

3rd Hip Replacement 7 months later, still in pain and using a walker, the surgeon said I had some sort of fascia hernia- a hernia on the muscle near my hip and needed surgery. Ok, but not really.

I had not gone to a quack. This doctor is probably the best at Yale.

A friend who is a doctor intervened at this time and suggested I get a 2nd opinion. I did.
I went to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. A place where people go with botched up hips and knees, and where angels work.
I am convinced of this.

I was immediately told that I needed the 3rd hip replacement because the 2nd hip that was used was a “non standard” hip. Okay. What the hell does that mean?
That means the first surgeon used a device that was a prototype. Swell.

A very good friend, a VP from where I work, would drive me in to New York for 2 months every single week. I would drag my walker, undergo tests, give my own blood at the blood bank to prepare for the last hip replacement.

The pain was intense. I could feel the rod poking through my femur that was supposed to be holding it in place. The pain changed every aspect of my life- work, interaction with friends, basic mobility issues. I had no tolerance for anyone or anything.
I wasn’t brave, I was crabby.

I underwent the 3rd surgery. And as they say, the operation was a success, but the patient almost died. It seems that the 3rd hip device was so defective, they couldn’t get it out of me. I was on the table for 6 hours. They finally had to cut the device in little pieces and extricate it. While this was going on, my kidneys failed.

So after the surgery I was placed in intensive care for 6 days. I came very close to dialysis, but thankfully my kidneys began to rebound.

I remember quite vividly, in intensive care, feeling sorry for my friends. I was here by myself, because it was just going to be “another hip replacement”. No big deal. Having no family, friends calling could not be told what was actually going on. But they knew something was wrong. After a few days of non committal answers from the hospital, 2 friends did make the trip to New York and they were informed of the ongoing saga.

I recovered and stayed in New York for 10 days, then went to a rehab center in New Haven for 2 weeks and then home. Finally.

This experience has taught me so much and I am thankful for it.
I have so much more understanding of people with “real pain”- pain that won’t or can’t go away. Mine was minor compared to what others must endure.
I try and remember not to “sweat the small things” or even the big ones. Things do get resolved. It may not be in the time frame we expect, but we do receive resolution.

I was reconnected with my faith even stronger than I could have imagined. I was placed in a room with a woman named Tony Brown and we would pray together with her family every night. Her family became my family in the shortest of times.

The university where I work gave me the gift of taking whatever time I needed to heal for all 3 operations, and to them I will always be grateful.

I can make jokes about it now, but humor is my way of dealing with absurdity.

I learned this as a small child and it is the one survival tool I can call my own.

I learned what it is truly like to be alone, and that I can depend on myself.

I learned that my anger should be directed where it belonged, and then let go.

People make mistakes, Doctors make mistakes. No one was out to get me.

Things happen. That’s life.


Blogger Carrie Wilson Link said...

Very nice, Suzy, your understanding and new-found peace come through on the "page". You must be quite a friend to others, to have such wonderful friends when you need them.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous ender said...


just wow.

well ... i'm really glad the third time's the charm even if it took a heckuva lot to get that third one to work!

4:39 PM  

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