Monday, November 3, 2008

The Big Betrayal

I sometimes feel betrayed by my body. All these years I’ve taken pretty good care of it. I’ve been lucky to have had very good health all my life. I don’t smoke, rarely drink, don’t overdo the caffeine even though I live in Starbucks Land, eat right, and exercise. I am the type of person my insurance company loves – no claims, just the yearly wellness stuff, and meanwhile I subsidize everyone else’s bad health habits. Until now, when we find out that hey, I’m all broken! I have to be taken apart and put back together again in order to work right!

I did pilates a couple of years ago to become more flexible. My back was pretty flexible and my upper body can do interesting things, but no matter how much stretching or strengthening I did, my bones wouldn’t change their shape, and so my lower body was as inflexible as a piece of wood. It was so totally frustrating. My pilates teacher, Angela, is a skater and I had private lessons with her. I stretched at home every night. She was patient and tried everything with me. I eventually just gave up in frustration.

I’ve started using the cane more and more, and will soon get crutches. Not that I really need crutches yet (although the cane has been helpful). But I want to learn how to use assistive devices now, while I’m still pretty mobile, and not in the hospital the morning after surgery when I’m wandering around in a drug-induced fog with my butt cheeks hanging out of my gown. It also may help to keep some pressure off the joints before I go under the knife.

I wrote an e-mail to my co-workers explaining what was going on so they wouldn’t be appalled to see me with a cane at work on a regular basis. I showed up at the rink with the cane for the first time just so everyone could stare at me without feeling badly about it and get used to the idea.

People ask questions once they get over the shock. I know they all mean well, but after a while I just want to wear a t-shirt or carry a sign, or maybe just hand everyone an FAQ sheet:

~No, I didn’t fall down and hurt myself. Boy, do I wish that’s all it was!
~No, I’m not “injured” – my body was put together wrong.
~What happened? Well, actually, nothing “happened,” I was born this way.
~Thank you for saying you hope I get better soon, but I won’t get better, I’ll only get worse until surgery fixes me.

Carrying things while using a cane is difficult. I have a purse which is really a backpack and I dug it out and it works great! I think crutches will be really, really super-specially fun. Being on them may cure me of my daily latte habit since I see no way to carry a hot cup of espresso in the backpack while on crutches. My husband, who is very handy, will probably rig something up to make this possible. Although I suppose I don’t really need the crutches to cross the street and get coffee. After all, I can still walk on my own for now.

I wrote this in an e-mail today to Angela:
"It has been an enlightening journey to find out just how badly put together my body is, but it explains so many things about my inabilities and physical challenges throughout my life. It's good to know it's not just that I'm lazy, or that my muscles are tight, or that it's all in my head. It's a relief to have a reason now."


oscarsmum said...

I have dysplasia so I do know what you are going through, however I would caution you about using crutches pre-op unless you cannot function without them. A cane is a better option and should be held in the hand opposite to the most painful hip.Prolonged use of crutchs will make your muscles a lot weaker and your recovery post-op will then be more difficult.I have had previous hip surgery, and am presently recovering from an arthroscopy( 6 weeks on crutches) before embarking on my PAO. You will soon learn to use crutches when you need to in the hospital, if you really want to prepare then do some upper body strengthening.
Hope this helps.

HipSk8 said...

I think I'll learn to use them now but not rely on them. I may need them pre-surgery, but I hope not. The cane is working OK for now. I can't imagine navigating work with crutches.