Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Arley Version 3.0

Well, tomorrow's the big day: My Freaky Cyborg Hip gets it hardware upgrade to V. 3.0 and I get to star in a remake of "Dude, Where's My Dignity?" (Actually, depending on what drugs they give me, it actually might be more like "Dude, Why Are There Small People Sitting on My Feet Singing 'Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man?'") IMPORTANT NOTE TO SELF: Do not update your work Facebook page while whacked out of your tree on painkillers. If only there was a way to lock your Facebook account so you have to take a skill-testing question to post a status update like there is with Gmail. Oh well.

As per usual, I've been overestimating my readiness for the surgery. Last time around, I was diligent: my walker, cushion, sock aid, shoehorn and elastic-laced shoes were lined up like little soldiers ready for battle. My rooms were de-cluttered with a post-hip-replacement body in mind. My bags were packed according to the hospital-approved checklist. I had read the "What to Expect When You're Becoming a Cyborg" (AKA the hip-replacement preparedness manual) back to front. I was like, "Dude, bring it on. I've got this."

This time around: It's 9:30 pm, I have to get up at 4:30 a.m., I have yet to pack anything, my post-hip-replacement bolster is covered in dust, there are piles of clothes strewn all over my room in a manner reminiscent of the $5 sale at Old Navy and I'm really more interested in downloading the "Angry Birds" game for my new Iphone. Yes, I am officially a card-carrying member of the Hipster Society. Good thing I can't wear skinny jeans for another 6 or 8 weeks due to post-surgical swelling, because you could write me off.

In the dreams I've been having about this surgery, I watch the operation while floating above as the events happen in fast-forward while the song "Grounded" by Pavement plays. Yes, even my subconscious is a hipster.

Oh well. Wish me luck. I check in at 6 a.m., my surgery will be around 7 or 8 a.m. and beyond that...Lord knows. Considering that the surgery plan is "open me up and see what's in there and hopefully put my ass back on," what kind of surgery I'll end up getting is really anyone's guess. Either way, Arley Version 2.0 will be a thing of the past and it's time for Arley 3.0: Now with Reattached Ass. And hopefully lasers.

Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, I'll be new and improved and only slightly spelling like a crack-addicted LOLCat. I'll try to update as soon as possible. Too bad I don't have a Twitter account because morphine tweets (Tweaks?) might be really awesome.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Invisible Cartoon Old People Porn....YES!

As expected, the move back to Vancouver was rough (emotional Arley + emotional cat + wheelchair + heavy bag + leaving forever + impending surgery and months of recovery + tons of stuff to do for work + sleep deprivation + did I mention leaving forever? is not exactly a recipe for awesomeness), but we made it here in one piece. I could spend roughly 12,400 words rehashing my complex feelings on leaving, how much I'm going to miss everyone, and how heartbroken I am every time I see poor Mika curled up on A.'s shirt at the corner of my bed, nuzzling it as if she could make A. reappear by doing so, then laying down on it with her head between her paws with a look of pure feline longing. Cat heartbreak is the very worst heartbreak of all!

But let's leave the emo-ness to the cat because we have more important topics to discuss....Invisible Cartoon Old People Hip Replacement Porn!

The day after I got back from Illinois, I went to the OASIS hip/knee-replacement orientation session. In truth, I tried to weasel my way out of it on account of the fact that I am perhaps a little too well oriented in what to expect following a hip replacement. If anything, I would like to become less oriented so that the mere sight of that stupid "sock aid" sitting on a chair in my room ready to aid me in spending 15 minutes just to put on a single freaking sock doesn't give me PTSD flashbacks. I decided to go, however, for two reasons: 1) the lady on the phone insisted in a very firm voice that it was mandatory and I am nothing if not compliant and 2) the last time I did the OASIS program, some chick fainted and I like being around people whose coping skills are worse than my own.

I will spare you a rehashing of the OASIS session. Suffice to say that it is like kindergarten class for people who are getting their limbs sawed off and reassembled. Some nice lady with a calm, gentle, day-care-y voice teaches you to how to avoid post-surgical constipation and demonstrates the best way to inject your stomach fat with bloodthinners to avoid bruising. Just when I was thinking that the day was going to be a waste of time, however, I spied a thick booklet on a pamphlet rack by the OASIS lady's shoulder: Sex After Total Joint Replacement. Let the real lessons begin!

The first time around, all I got was a one-page handout discreetly tucked into a folder of other hip-replacement info. This time, however, they've pulled out all the stops. For starters, the manual stars an elderly couple who resemble the neighbor couple from Dennis the Menace...and let's just say that in this booklet, Martha's doing a lot more than needlepoint.

On one hand, I can understand the thought process behind the cartoon old people. After all, you don't want Doris Q. Hip-Replacement-Patient to be stuck in her fanciest flannel teddy staring at the handout thinking, "Well, damn. In the diagram, your breasts are supposed to be right here, but mine are down by my bellybutton....It's so confusing! I just can't make it all line up!" On the other hand, however, I'm not sure why they felt the need to include images such as this one:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. That is a cartoon rendering of an old man counting the days until his lady love's post-surgical bruising has gone down to the point that he can rock her compression socks off.

Or this one, which I'm pretty sure depicts the same old guy waiting for his Viagra to kick in while the pamphlet warns about the post-surgical risk of...um....an arid climate in the lady garden:

Why does he look so downcast and alone? Is it because the clock on his chest is counting down the seconds until his sex-induced heart attack? Or maybe it's causing him to reminisce about the time he spent touring with Flava Flav? Who knows? Someone get this guy a Werther's Original because he needs to cheer the hell up. I mean, he's about to get some serious action. Perk up, buddy!

Of course, what would a post-hip-replacement sex manual be if elderly cartoon people didn't demonstrate the acceptable positions? I love some of the graphic-design choices that were made here. Eyes: no. Mouth: no. Perfect 1950s-old-lady updo: MANDATORY. Pearl earrings: ALSO MANDATORY. (Those of you about to make a 'pearl necklace' joke need to check yourselves). And if you ever want to know what exactly your beloved Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop were doing on that rocking chair you used to love as a child...the one with the hand-crocheted afghan....

I especially love the positioning of the artificial hip in this last position. It seems to say, "Oh, God, Walter. Take me with your four inches of medical-grade cobalt chrome! Don't stop!" (Too much? Too much).

But wait! Don't leave to go wash your eyeballs out with acid! It gets better. Do you want to know what this is? Do you want to take a guess?
If you guessed "an image of someone's Granny calling the doctor after she has f*cked her husband's hip right out of its socket," then give yourself a hand! Clearly, someone got a little in to the old cowgirl rocking-chair routine and is going to have a great story to tell to the Bridge Club. Apparently when you put a little Crown Royal in her Ensure meal supplements, she goes wild! You git it, girl!

But..see...here's the problem. I am single. It's bad enough that for ages post-surgery I'm going to have to greet potential suitors with the phrase, "It's nice to meet you. Let me put down this walker so that I can shake your hand." And I'm pretty sure that any sex that requires you to cross-reference your positions with any type of manual is not the kind of sex I want to have. But even if I did want to give some lucky gentleman this booklet as a little homework assignment, what do you think the reaction's going to be? "Thanks for this reading material, darling. I was worried about how to accommodate your post-surgical needs, but now that I mentally associate you with eye-less cartoon old people, I am suddenly overcome with wild feelings of lust! You can consider me officially in the throes of desire!"

Okay, OASIS program. Thanks a lot. You can consider me officially oriented. So oriented that I'm about to buy a few more cats and a pint of Haagen Daaz and call it a day.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This Cane Was Made for Walkin'

For the past week, I've been trying to come up with something to blog about that isn't whiny. It's a week until I leave Champaign (for good this time...I promise!) and my inner monologue sounds like it came from the "Emily the Strange" diary of a 16-year-old girl. In theory, I should embrace the fact that I'm moving back to Vancouver and become excited for my new life. After all, Vancouver is one of the world's most livable cities. (A. keeps reminding me of this fact, and I keep reminding him that Vancouver is only the world's most livable city if you are cultivating an ironic mustache or you have a high tolerance to sunshine-deprivation-induced depression).

The bottom line is that Vancouver is a difficult city to make friends in at the best of times, and I am worried that loneliness will turn me into one of those people who goes to the library in order to rope the librarian into a detailed conversation about their psoriasis and then spends hours reading the newspaper and remarking, "Oh my god! That's so funny! That's so interesting!" aloud in the hopes that someone (anyone!) will ask them what's so funny/interesting. After all, it's easy to make friends when you're in school. It's less easy to make friends when you're by yourself and you worry that people are judging you on your post-hip-replacement elastic shoelaces.

See what I mean? Whiny.

Today, however, I finally came up with something positive to blog about: my newfound leg strength. Because I don't have a car in Champaign, I've been walking between two and four miles a day. While this is annoying since it's hot as balls in Champaign-Urbana, it is forcing me to develop the kind of leg strength needed for post-surgical recovery. My legs have gotten seriously muscular and even my anti-ass is becoming less concave. If this keeps up, I'll have to change its name to "actual ass."

The only problem is, however, that I am notorious for over-estimating my physical abilities. When you add this to the hot, humid weather we've been having lately, my over-reaching can occasionally get me in trouble. A few days ago, for example, the tip of my cane split. No problem, I decided. I'll just walk the 1.5 miles to the medical supply place. Well, it turns out that walking 1.5 miles when it's 97 degrees and so humid you feel as if you're stuck inside someone's mouth is no easy feat. By the time I got to the medical supply place, I was drenched with sweat, completely exhausted, and so sore that I was walking like a stroke victim. I could not fathom walking back.

I swallowed my pride and called A. and asked if he had any desire to rescue a (slightly sweaty) damsel in distress. Like any good friend, A. laughed for several minutes and then agreed to bring his noble steed (a Dodge Aries) to rescue me. I was so relieved that I bought him lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant where we drank cold drinks, ate the world's worst burritos (seriously...a flour tortilla and a gray paste of ground beef do not a burrito make!) and watched World Cup soccer. It was cheaper and more fun than a taxi. Poor A. Not only does he have to watch my cat, calm my moving-related fears and occasionally do my dishes, now he has to play chauffer.

You might be saying to yourself, "Arley, there is this new-fangled invention known as 'the bus,' which will take you to places outside of your walking range on days when it is hot as balls." To you, I say: I am too impatient for the bus. (You can see why I'm such a joy to be around post-surgery). Every time I try to take the bus, I find myself waiting there thinking, "Why am I sitting here for 15 minutes waiting for the bus to show up when I can be out there walking and getting shit accomplished?" I therefore decide to start walking along the bus route in the hopes of catching the bus when it passes. Of course, I'm between bus stops when the bus passes, which means that I end up walking all the way to my destination. Also: I have a weirdo magnet and buses are recipes for "Arley getting to hear the life story of someone with a meth addiction."

Oh well. I have only a few more weeks of walking before I have surgery and will spend months taking 20 minutes to go once around the block. Sigh. I will not be emo....I will not be emo.....I will not be emo.....I will not.....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Theory of One Less Gross Thing

It's less than a month until my new surgery date and I'm trying to get mentally prepared for it. Granted, it will be nice to no longer have the surgery hanging over my head, so that I can get on with my life. I've been avoiding dating because I don't want to have to end some hot date by saying, "We'll have to do it again sometime soon....like next week, when I'll be using a walker and will be whacked out of my tree on morphine. Oh, and just FYI, here's a handout of acceptable post-surgical sex positions in case you make it to the third date." Yes, it's time to get the "walking properly" show on the road.

Still, I suspect that this time around will be harder than the last. Last time, I was relentlessly optimistic. I'd done my homework on the surgeon. I'd done a significant pre-hab routine to build up the muscles around my hip. I was young, I was fit, and visions of strutting around the hospital showing off my impressive recovery to the other elderly patients were dancing in my head. Even though it all went off the rails, I was able to power through it mentally by adopting the Theory of One Less Gross Thing. (Okay, I know that technically it should be One Fewer Gross Thing, but it doesn't quite have the same ring to it).

The Theory of One Less Gross Thing rests on the premise that the surgery is a one-shot deal and that every gross, humiliating, painful or unpleasant thing that occurs does so for the last time ever. When I was puking up fluorescent-green bile, I wasn't thinking, "Damn, this sucks," but "This is the last time I ever have to do this. This is one less gross thing I have to go through." When I was getting my staples torn out of my incision perhaps a few days too early by an 80-year-old doctor with shaky hands, I wasn't thinking, "Hot damn, remind me to apologize to all the stapled sheets of paper I have unwittingly violated over the years," but "This is the last time I ever have to do this. This is one less gross thing I have to go through." Shuffling along with a walker; trying to use a long-handled sponge probably created to bathe elephants to scrub the pink antiseptic wash off my toes; injecting my stomach with bloodthinners in a drug-induced haze: all of these were one less gross thing I had to go through, one less gross thing that was standing between me and my sexy new walk.

Well, of course it didn't work out that way and now I'm gearing up for the hip-replacement sequel. Like most sequels, this hip replacement promises to suck more than the first. Part of the reason is that the Theory of One Less Gross Thing no longer applies. I'll be going through everything again and, worse still, I know exactly how gross it will be. Actually, considering that I don't know whether I'll be weightbearing or not, if I'll be following hip restrictions or not, or whether the additional gluteus-medius reattachment will make it more painful than the last time, I could be up for even grosser Gross Things.

Oh well. I aim to make the most of my three weeks of freedom. I've been swimming, walking at least a mile a day, doing the elliptical machine, and doing little weight-training circuits with ab workouts. If I can't be optimistic, at least I'll be fit.