Saturday, August 29, 2009

What? You mean everything doesn't suck?

I spend a lot of time on this blog detailing the crappiness of my post-replacement life. Well, today you can put away your raincoats and umbrellas because the little black storm cloud that's following me around has taken the day off. Yesterday was S. G's bachelorette party on Bowen Island, (I have two friends whose names start with S getting married within a week of each other, so this whole 'giving people initials to preserve their anonymity' business is getting complicated!) and while the day was meant to celebrate her upcoming marriage, it ended up being a big step forward (pun intended) for my recovery. (Everything is, of course, all about me).

Vancouver is one of the few major cities where you can travel for twenty minutes and be in peaceful, secluded wilderness. (Well, I guess Detroit has one up on Vancouver, since there is wilderness within abandoned parts of the city and apparently red foxes roam the downtown streets, but I'm not sure if this is true or if I've just been watching too much "Life After People" on Discovery). Bowen Island therefore offers all the relaxation of off-the-grid living without all the "driving for five hours and spending four of those fighting about what music to play and passing the last hour arguing about how much gas mileage the car actually gets because of a controversy over whether the driver remembered to reset the trip calculator at the last fill-up" business. (Ah, road trips!)

My day went lik this: pleasant boat ride, lunch at a cute cafe sipping homemade lemonade with a tiny sprig of mint on the top of the glass, a massage with aromatherapy-scented oil to work the knots out of my cranky back, relaxing outside amidst bamboo trees and little creeks sampling organic Mexican hot chocolate, which was served on a tiny silver tray with an equally tiny glass of water, enraging the waitress at a local pub when we tried to get our food to go so we could catch the water taxi, then sitting on a picnic table looking out at the water (because the water taxi was full) and eating yam fries and potstickers. Granted, I got a sunburn (because my skin burns if I even think about sun), but I arrived home smelling amazing, pleasantly exhausted, packed to the brim with good food and sunshine and the company of real non-television people, about ready to move to Bowen Island to live by the water, write novels and raise babies (whose babies I'm not sure, since I am not exactly a heavy-hitter on the dating scene, but let a girl dream). It was the perfect day.

It was also the perfect day to put my hip to the test. I found myself trying to get out of a boat, which was moving with the tides, on to a dock, which was also moving with the tides, without any sort of ramp or assistance at all, which required breaking hip restrictions in ways that were too complex and dramatic to even be mentioned in the "things not to do post-hip replacement" handbook. Then, I walked down a steeply inclined gravel path for over a kilometer. Then I spent more than a few minutes trying to contort myself into sitting correctly at a picnic table, which I could not figure out, so ended up sitting on it side-saddle and twisting around to eat yam fries (very little stands in the way of me and yam fries). Then I walked for over 3 kilometers up and down a mountain. My physiotherapists would either be very proud of me or else beat me senseless with my own cane.

After a long day, S.G. and I both noticed at the same time that I was still keeping up with the pack. Before the surgery, I would have been lagging behind after half an hour, my leg twisted in unnatural directions, stopping to sit down at every tree stump/fence/road sign/bus stop/patch of grass/strangers' porch swing, delivering monologues most commonly found in those movies about people stranded on a desert island/top of a mountain/in the jungle and one of them is injured and must sacrifice himself for the good of the rest: "Go on! Leave me! I have lived a good and noble life! Don't look back!" I would have ended the day in agony, staring glassy-eyed off at some fixed point for hours. For the first time since the surgery, I did something that I couldn't do before. For the first time, the hip replacement made a positive change in my life, instead of costing me all my independence and roughly 3/4 of my sanity.

After the past three years (hip subluxations! Super mono! Breakups! Heart medication that numbed my scalp for two months! The end of my elite sports career! The end of my varsity sports career! Hip replacement! Complications! Hours spent in bed staring out the window! No one wanting to hire me to teach the joys of the thesis statement!), one good day feels like winning the lottery. Even the mere act of drinking a perfect chai latte (not too watery, not too strong that the chai concentrate burns your throat) is enough to make me feel a little giddy.

It's like when you have a crappy boyfriend. When you have a good boyfriend, you begin to take it for granted that he will do certain nice things, like call you when he says he will, or make you dinner, or drive you to the airport at 3 a.m even though the airport happens to be 2.5 hours away and it's snowing. When you have a crappy boyfriend, however, you find yourself thinking, "Aww, how sweet! He didn't go through my wallet while I was sleeping this time to pay his meth dealer! That talk about personal boundaries must have really helped! What a great guy!" (Simmer down, gossip mill! That's never happened to me).

So, thank you life for beating me down for years on end with soul crushing disappointment, then building me back up stronger (and more cyborg-y) than before. Arley Version 2.0: now being beta tested at an island near you.

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