Thursday, August 6, 2009

It's a...lump of decaying, knobby femoral head!

**Note: If you are not a fan of hearing about people's surgeries, you should probably scroll down to the next post while thinking happy thoughts about kittens and rainbows**

I wanted to keep the hip. I mean, it was mine. Who fed it a steady diet of delicious calcium via all those chai lattes? Me. Who stressed it to the point of collapse by insisting on going to her mother's step aerobics classes and doing circuit-training Biggest Loser style? Me. Who yanked on my leg whenever the hip came out in the middle of a wheelchair-basketball game and convinced it to stay in its little hip home? Okay, that was Jen Brown and Zach, (with the help of one Gregory James Mantooth), but who had to stick her hand into the fist-sized indentation that opened up on the side of my leg whenever my hip came out and manually power it, since the hip was too busy exploring the rest of my pelvis and not doing its job? That's right. Me.

Besides, I was already using two plaster models of my hips as bookends and I thought the real thing might be a good paperweight. It would have been very satisfying to look at my hip sitting inertly on the table and think, "Who's laughing now, motherf*cker? You've been deported from the nation of Arley. Not so easy to cause problems now, is it?" (Right now, my hip is probably up in hip heaven laughing its ass of at me getting kicked out of America). Many people were grossed out by this, even when I offered to tell them that it was not a hip but a moon rock, but after all the drama my diva hip put me through, I felt like I had earned it.

Alas, it was not to be. Apparently, it's against some biohazard law to keep your own bones, since every bone taken out of someone's body has to be biopsied and safely disposed of. You all can therefore breathe a sigh of relief because you will not see my hip sitting on the mantle like something out of a Margaret Atwood short story. I did, however, get to see it.

I was awake for my hip replacement. "Awake" is perhaps too optimistic a term. I had spinal anesthetic and was sedated, which meant that I spent the surgery in a rather blissful state of semi-consciousness. Though I have never done heroin, I suspect the feeling would be the same. It was like being in a Dan Bejar song. (Actually, I remember having the John Cale song "Half-Past France" stuck in my head, which was a very appropriate soundtrack). In fact, I was so completely indifferent to what was going on that when I felt sawing and pulling and tugging, it seemed to be happening from very far away. They might as well have been doing renovations down the street. I even heard someone say, "Oh my God!" when the hip was taken out and felt completely bored by it. (It turned out that I was the proud owner of the worst hip my surgeon had ever seen).

I was taking a little power nap when my surgeon tapped me on the shoulder. He was holding the hip in the palm of his hand and asked if I wanted to see it. I was expecting something like coral: something brittle and porous and sharp. Instead, the hip looked like a lump of molten glass. It was completely flattened and there were little knobs all over it that stood out in relief because there was a red substance stuck in the grooves and indentations; (I thought it was blood at the time, but I suspect it was the same antibacterial stuff they paint on your leg. My toes were pink for a month post-surgery). The hip was all shiny in the powerful operating-room light and (this could have been the drugs talking), was weirdly lovely. It was a strange feeling being shown a chunk of your own bone, especially since so much of the surgery seemed to follow the script I'd seen watching C-sections on "A Baby Story," (the epidural, the nurse murmuring supportive things, the feelings of tugging and pulling), except that while the new mothers cried with joy at seeing their newborns, I was face-to-face with a chunk of decaying femoral head.

And that was the end of that. The doctor took the hip away (he'd promised to take a picture of it with his camera phone, but he forgot and I was too busy chasing the dragon to remind him) and I was wheeled out of the operating room into recovery, where I was swathed in warm blankets. I remember thinking, "Well, that's over and done with! Let's get the recovery party started! Bring on that morphine drip!" At least I got the morphine....

1 comment:

  1. I also always pictured your hip looking like coral. Thanks for ruining that for me.