Friday, August 7, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I've never been a fan of free time, mostly because I've never had much of it. Between grad school and writing and teaching and wheelchair basketball and my robust social life (don't laugh), I have grown used to a certain level of chaos. Because I am of the "put your head down and keep going" school of problem-solving and life-living, time off can be a dangerous opportunity to think too much. The most difficult part of the hip replacement has therefore not been the pain, (which there wasn't much of), but the sheer frustration of being forced to stay in one place for an extended period of time. Recovery has therefore not just required adjusting to a new joint, but an entirely new itinerary:

My life pre-replacement: Get up at 5:35 a.m. to my cat (who faithfully wakes me 5 minutes before my alarm) licking my face. Tell her she's pretty. Go to practice for 2 - 3 hours, 45 minutes of which will involve me standing up out of my chair and doing the hip-relocation booty dance and another 15 of which will involve me adjusting my mantooth (that's a story for another post), shower at the ARC and realize that I've forgotten some important article of underclothing. Try to dress in a way that does not make this fact obvious. Impart my endless and unceasing wisdom (most of it thesis-statement-related) to the youth of America. Remind my drowsy/hungover freshmen that if I can get up at 5:30 a.m. and be at least semi-coherent they can damn well stop sleeping in the front row. Teach another class (selflessly offering more shining pearls of knowledge i.e. "how to make a citation sandwich"). Sit in my office and grade diligently (read: complain about grading, gossip and empty the office candy jar -- oh room 248 how I will miss you). Work out again (repeat hip reduction booty dance. Call "Jennnn!" and have her tug on my leg and hang me from various high places). Return home to sit on the couch with E.C., watch my cat renovate her cardboard box condo, and catch up on the latest episode of "My Big Redneck Wedding" while eating Lean Cuisine and microwave popcorn (or else hang out with A. drinking whiskey, listening to records and talking about evolution). Pack my gym bag for the next day and have a detailed conversation with my cat about whether she is, in fact, a pretty girl. Try to read a book, but fall asleep after a few sentences (sorry David Foster Wallace. I may never be done with "Infinite Jest). Wake up dreaming of drowning because my hip has come out during the night and my back is spasming, making it hard to breathe. Repeat. (Note: this is also a really great recipe for getting mono).

My life post-hip replacement: Wake up already dressed in my recovery uniform (shorts and a T-shirt). Try to remember when I last wore a bra. Watch "A Baby Story" and chide the women on the screen for whining and crying during their epidural because mine really wasn't that bad. Do exercises, most of which involve me either with my legs spread apart or slung face-down over my bed and think, "Wow, this is not the most fun I've ever had in these positions." Read a book. Stare out the window. Go for a walk with my mom and pass women walking their babies in various states of domestic bliss. Watch one of those home-buying shows and tsk-tsk at people buying expensive homes with 100% financing in California circa 2006. Stare out the window. Brood, usually over the whole unemployment/ deportation/ "short on long-term goals"-ness of my life. Get on the exercise bike/ hand bike and spend a blissful hour working my ass off, getting all wonderfully sweaty with my IPod cranked way the hell up as Dan Bejar sings with just the right amount of self-loating and sarcasm and anger and regret and meloncholy that "tonight is not your night/ no it's not your night -- ooooooh yeah." Stare out the window and realize that my sweat smells of chlorine. Get into the pool and paddle around trying to ward off roving raccoon gangs. Realize that I have had "The Internationale" stuck in my head for a solid two weeks. Remind the racoons that "freedom is merely priviledge extended unless enjoyed by one and all." Shower. Put on another pair of shorts and a T-shirt (see "In Praise of Grabbers"). Still no bra. Fail to resist the siren's song of Smarties ice cream. Spend twenty minutes trying to find the perfect pillow to stick between my legs so I can sleep on my side. Brood. Sleep. Repeat.

As you can see, blogging is not just a way to share my experience with other young people having a hip replacement, (since I'm not sure anyone who's not my friend has discovered this blog), but a way to rehab my brain. Less over-thinking, more telling other people about my ass: just what the physio ordered.


  1. Just letting you know a friend of yours pointed me to your blog on a LiveJournal disability community. I don't remember who or what community, sorry -- but I'm not currently a friend of yours.

    Alia aka teal_cuttlefish

  2. That's cool. It's good to know that people who I don't know in real life are willing to listen to me complain :).

  3. I am another person here via livejournal and am loving your sense of humour and writing style. I am in the UK and have multiple sclerosis, used to be sporty and fit and am having to come to terms with being able to do less and less. I am 42 and was diagnosed when I was 30. I really respect you for your drive to get better and carry on.