Old Lady’s Preoccupations with Her Arthritic Hip, Part 2

Monday we had snow. Today we have a Red Flag Warning — high winds/warm temps. In between, temps in the high 60s/low 70s. “I have no idea what’s going on.

Fall doesn’t want to succumb to winter, I guess, nor summer to fall. I’m here to tell them that what they want has NOTHING to do with what will happen. THAT’S a lesson I am very good at learning, but I also understand the desire to resist the inevitable…

In thinking about hip surgery, I realize that the parts of it I dread most are not the surgery or the possibility of dying on the operating table. That would be OK. I dread the prep, the waiting time and the recovery. If I could just go there, do it and come home to my life I wouldn’t mind at all, but it doesn’t work that way.

Recovery is a messy and complicated business. Some might say, “You won’t mind. You’l be taking narcotics,” but I don’t like narcotics. I’ve already been there. What a lot of people don’t know is that whether you get psychologically hooked to them or not, you will get physically hooked and the withdrawal isn’t fun. And then there are all the antibiotics. I can’t take penicillin and, as a result, whenever I need antibiotics, they have to give me something that would kill the bacteria in the dirtiest lake in the world. The after-effects of that aren’t fun, either.

So… I will have X-rays Monday. I don’t know how they WON’T say what I think they will say. And if they don’t? Then I’m here with this pain for what — forever? Hip surgery removes the source of pain and returns the joint to normal functioning. Why wouldn’t I want that?

Meanwhile, I’ve amped up my activity on the Bike to Nowhere and find it relieves the pain a LOT. Walking the dogs is not a lot of fun right now, but as they are as happy with a stroll around the high school as they would be with an expedition to the Antipodes, it’s really OK. In fact, they are helpful in a strange canine way. Dusty was around for my first surgery and he was trained professionally to help me out. Bear is extremely empathic, but while her crawling up on my lap to save me from whatever is hurting me is always a morale booster, sometimes it’s not convenient and she CAN’T do that after my surgery. Mindy is just there, a kind spirit.

My job will be to find the best surgeon who can do this with the least fuss and the greatest success. I’ve learned Medicare will pay for 3 weeks in a rehab facility and I might need that since I don’t have kids or siblings to stay with me and drive me to physical therapy and stuff. That’s OK. It could work that I drive myself to the hospital and drive myself home if that’s the case. Friends have stepped up and I’m very grateful for that.

Meanwhile, I have brought my “horse” out of the closet. To you it would probably look like a cane, but it has a story.

When my other hip “went south” (2005) I bought a cane at the drugstore. I liked the cane. It was adjustable and functional and helpful. I arrived with it in Montana, much to the shock and horror of my Aunt Jo and my Uncle Hank. “What happened, Martha Ann?” Since I was always running in the hills, they were always sure I’d hurt myself sooner or later.

I explained I had end-stage osteoarthritis in my hip and was trying to find the best solution, meanwhile, I had to walk with a cane.

One day after lunch, I went to “my” room to take nap. Pain is tiring. My Uncle Hank said, “Leave your cane outside your room.” I did. I hung it on the door. When I woke up there was a beautiful wooden cane hanging in its place.

It matched the cane my uncle (who’d had a stroke) used to walk with. He loved working with wood and tried to make useful things. You have to know he’d had retinal detachment so he had mostly peripheral vision. He couldn’t drive and was essentially, mostly, blind.

My uncle and I took our walks together, morning and evening, both of us with our canes. When we would go out somewhere, we had our matching canes. If one of us forget his or her cane, the other would say, “You got your horse, cowboy?”

I also have an adjustable, shock absorbing  “hiking cane.” I have been relying on a trekking pole, but I think I’m going to use this thing instead on dog walks since I can lean on the handle. Bear will have to learn to walk on the other side.



23 thoughts on “Old Lady’s Preoccupations with Her Arthritic Hip, Part 2

  1. I absolutely know how you feel. I am fending off a “redo” on cutting open my chest to see if they can’t wire it together so that maybe it will stop moving around. It’s amazing how much of the rest of your body is attached to your sternum.

    I have one knee with a ligament (sorry, brain forgetting which one, but I really DO know it) … and in the 40+ years since I tore it in a fall, I’ve never had it repaired. I couldn’t cope with the long, long recovery and I can’t take any of the opioids either. They do not make me feel better — they make me horribly ill.

    So far, I’ve just been saying NO to every presentation for another shot at my chest because as of right now, it isn’t life or death … just more or less painful/convenient. I don’t know how long I will last before someone will warn me that it is now so loose, it’s dangerous. It also makes doing anything that could be real exercise close to impossible. So I don’t know, but I’m sure I will find out.

    I don’t suppose you have any alternative course that might work? Anything arthroscopic or minimally invasive? Probably not … but it’s always worth checking to see if somewhere, they’ve invented a new version that might help.

    • I’m at the beginning of this exploration. Minimally invasive hip surgery is through the front rather than the back of the hip. If I have to have surgery, I will find a doctor who will do that for me. Rehab is shorter, no muscles are cut. What I fear is that it’s necrosis of the femur brought on by Prednisone. It’s a not all that uncommon side effect of even a short blast of Prednisone. It came on quickly soon after I was given Pred for a sinus infection. If it’s necrosis then there are a few non-surgical things that sometimes work. I don’t think my doctor is very competent and that worries me, but X-rays are X-rays. Once I have them, I’m armed and can go doctor shopping.

      It is, as you say, “I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll find out.” I think there comes a time when we would just rather muddle along in grueling imperfection than go through all that again. I understand your feelings very well, but maybe???

      • I don’t know. I understand that the surgery they want to do on me is not anywhere NEAR as terrible as the original surgery, but having your chest cut open is not a picnic … and if I can get away with having it rather more flexible than it is supposed to be … I may go that way. IF I can. It is perceptibly looser than it was a year ago, so basically, I’m held together with VERY STRONG wire.

        But they ARE working on a lot of minimally invasive and robotic/’arthroscopic surgery for hips and knees … even hearts, if you get there early enough. I had two feet that were so arthritic I could bare hobble repaired by the Sports Surgery area of a Boston hospital … a surgery that was impossible just a year before. I had waited 15 years because I refused to get plastic toes. That was one case where I finally got what I wanted. Check the Baptist in Boston, too. They have a brilliant sports medicine department and are THE hospital for all our sports teams. They are really really good and creative.

    • Once I know what’s there, I’ll be in a position to find a doc I trust and decide to move forward and I will. I owe it to Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog — who’s only 2 — to be an active partner for her as long as she needs me. Really, it’s that or give her away. 😦

  2. There is nothing like a good cane to let you see a bit of the better side of things now and again. When I had my accident and broke my arm in London a few years ago, many years ago, the ward seemed to be full of people that had hip surgery, mainly replacements bits and pieces. They would not let anyone go home if they had no-one to look after them. I hope it all goes well with you. I cracked something in my knee a few months ago, but ignored it as much as possible as there were no bones protruding through the skin. The more I rested it the better it got. And now I only feel it according to the weather, must be a golden oldie thing.

  3. I was enamored by the story of your horse ❤ No matter how it looks, it really was your horse.
    I would love to share a realization about our illnesses or physical conditions triggered by illnesses. i feel it is a miracle that our illness lingers more than a day, even more than an hour! Every moment we are coming into existence by the command of God, which means we are new every moment. Therefore, an illness too should not be able to stay more than a moment. Yayy! I feel rejuvenated every time i'm reminded of this 🙂
    Btw Martha, you're doing a great job. Kudos to your strength and positive attitude. Glory be to God! My mom also has been with osteoporosis for many years, but when doctor gave up on her recovery from a bed ridden condition she not only sat on to say her prayer she stood up, walked and even cooked me my favorite dish ❤ Sometimes she would even offer to handfeed me. I can't thank God enough! I was enlightened by that event and eventually came to that point of realization about God's continuous Creation.

    • Osteoporosis is a difficult thing. My aunt had it and was bedridden, but after a pretty long time (and meds) she more-or-less recovered. It was amazing. 🙂

      My Uncle Hank was one of the best people I’ve known and I really love my horse. Even if I were never to need it again, I would never give it away. ❤

  4. Martha–I am really sorry to read this. I hope you come to a solution that works best for you and Dusty, Mindy and Bear. I had another cancer surgery 2 weeks ago. The saving grace for me is that I live 5 minutes from the hospital, my husband stayed with me my entire hospital stay and one of my kids lives in town so could take care of the cats. While surgery was not a piece of cake, the recovery part was a whole lot easier with having help at home. You know if I lived closer….No one should have to go through this alone.

    • Thank you. I hope your surgery was completely successful. I think a friend will be with me at home afterward but I want to make that easier for her by being somewhat mobile before I come home. I am also pretty sure the hospital won’t send me home but to a rehab hospital for at least a week after. Anyway, I’ll find out! 🤡

  5. I’m going to have to travel down that road too. I have heard it said that the earlier you have it done, the quicker you recover. One should not put it off.

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