"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, November 30, 2012


It's been almost three weeks. A short lifetime of culture shock and new experiences I never expected to have. Not one bit of this time has been horrible, and most of it has held gifts that break my heart open wide at every turn.

Everything about the morning of November 12 was calm. I gave information and followed directions. I said "right hip" repeatedly. I laughed at silly comments meant to ease stress. I didn't smack the overweight, overtired, over-it nurse who couldn't get my IV port in, although Walt looked like he was considering it. I marveled at how many different people I was handed off to in such a short amount of time.

I remember thinking how huge the operating room looked and how medieval some of the tools seemed. There were masked people moving around quietly with clear purpose. I scooted onto a narrow table, swung my legs around to sit as the nurse directed, and saw the anesthesiologist out of the corner of my eye shoot something into the IV port.

The next thing I remember was being asked if I wanted water, if I'd like to get a clean gown, if I could move my feet. It wasn't noon yet. I was snaky with tubes and sticky with I-didn't-know-what and the space between my hip and knee felt like someone had implanted a two-by-four.

For the next two and a half days I lived in a world of diminishment. Diminished freedom. Diminished abilities. Diminished mental capacity. For a while it was also a world of no pain. And when the pain made itself known, the thing I'd worried about most, it was not the devouring monster I'd feared. It certainly was no worse than what I'd been living with. Narcotics helped - given freely and often.

From the beginning I knew that all of it was temporary. Which made the catheter easier to tolerate, and the moaning patient in the room next door, and the absolute weirdness of the whole situation. I'd been telling myself for weeks that every part of the surgical process and all of the accommodations would only be with me for a short time. And in that I decided I could bear anything.

I was right about the temporary part. And very wrong about my decision to bear the experience. There has been nothing to bear. It's all been interesting and freeing. Every minute of every day brings new movement, new healing, new awareness that more has changed for me than a new hip.

Not all has been perfect for sure. There was the night, as I tried unsuccessfully to swing my legs into bed, I fell over nearly in tears with the frustration of not being able to make my body move. There were a couple of days when I overdid (taking my walker for longer walks than I was ready for) and worried that I'd set myself back. And there was the whole detox experience after quitting the oxycodone which caught me by surprise.

But, in what seems to be a new normal for me, the good has far outweighed the not-so-good.

I have traveled these weeks in the most amazing company imaginable. Friends visiting me in the hospital - who knew that would be so fun, so delightful? Flowers. Text messages. Cards. Phone calls. Meals dropped off. Lovely and loving women sitting on my couch visiting, or bringing me a hamburger in the hospital, or baking bread in my kitchen. Brothers reaching out, each in their own way, taking my breath away with their generosity and prayers and attention. Walt doing laundry, cleaning the litter box, cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Walt bringing me little gifts that made me smile and reminded me how lucky I am that he's in my life.

Acts of kindness and thoughtfulness given in grace and without expectation for anything in return. I'm humbled, and so happy to know that this is the life I've earned.

Emma and Toby are my constant companions. Toby is tickled to have me home, but doesn't understand how it's possible that I'm going walking without him. Emma has taken full advantage of the new lap opportunities. I study them, and marvel at the miracle of their presence in my life.

Toby at five is mellow and sweet and affectionate. I look at him and know we're probably halfway through his life, and always feel the smallest pinch of sadness, but even more feel so grateful for his grand company.

Emma at twenty and some months is my North Star through this time. I know for certain that her days are numbered. She's mostly deaf, having a hard time jumping, her coat is lumpy and stringy, and she wobbles when she walks after sleeping for a while. Her beautiful tabby face often has the pinched look of an old cat, something I haven't seen until recently. She still demands attention, food, a faucet turned on. She still purrs. She sits on my chest as I do my physical therapy.

These days at home allowing my body to heal and my self to return contain the surprise gift of extra time with Emma. And in that I've gained this most amazing insight that there is nothing beyond love that is not temporary. I stroke her fur, rub noses, take in her yeasty breath, knowing that soon all I'll have left of her is memories and the love I've learned with her in our time together. So everything can be lived with, and every minute should be treasured, even the hard ones,  because nothing lasts.

Nothing lasts. Not pain. Not constraints. Not even grief. It all changes, expands, diffuses with each passing moment.

Only love. And that clearly has the power to make everything else shrink into the shadows with the brilliance of its confident and perfect light.

I'm headed out into the cold gray of this first day of December. I'll walk until my leg says no, enjoying each smooth and rolling step, not limping, and knowing tomorrow I will probably walk a little farther, a little easier - knowing soon my walking companion will be Toby again, and not my walker. I claim all that this day offers with gratitude, knowing tomorrow will be a whole new adventure in itself.


Terra said...

This is a poetic post about your recovery and embracing the surgery and all it entails, including all the dear people giving you support, and your extra time with your old kitty.

#1Nana said...

Wonderful! Both the writing and the fact that you are doing so well. I'm so glad you are recovering nicely.

Barb said...

So very happy to see a post from you, Deb. I'm glad you're mending well and already out and about exercising. Sounds like you have some special company at your house to help you heal. Hugs to you as you continue to feel better.

kario said...

I love that you have found some gifts in this time. For you, so fiercely independent, I can only imagine how hard it must be to receive the help you need and I am so pleased that you are open to it.

Savor these moments with Emma and relish being cared for. You were right on when you said this is what you have earned.


Anonymous said...

I'm thankful it all went well for you. Happy healing:)

yaya said...

Not only have you enjoyed the gifts from friends and family, but letting them help you has blessed their lives also. It's hard to be the receiver when one's used to being the doer and giver. I'm pleased you are doing so well. I'm the one with the tools of the trade in the cold operating room hoping all our patients do as well as you have. You write so beautifully! (almost makes me want to have something fixed...well, not really!)

Retired English Teacher said...

I know of no one except you who could write so beautifully about receiving a new body part. You are amazing. I'm so glad you are doing so well. I'm sure attitude had much to do with your great recovery. Bravo!

Linda Reeder said...

Reading your blog is a spiritual experience. It is so full of grace and gratitude and love.
I know that surgeries of various body parts are in my future. You give me hope that I too will overcome and be better for it.

DJan said...

Oh, the lyrical beauty of your writing just transported me to another world, Deb. I so enjoyed reading every word of this post. I too was taken by surprise by the detox from oxycodone back in 2000, and I too was discouraged by my inability to make my body work. But it all came back, and better than ever, as is happening with you. I'm so GLAD to have read this post! Smiles and blessings are bursting out all over!! :-)

Stacy Crawford said...

Deb, I am so glad you are getting along well. It seems you are learning more beautiful life lessons and are sharing them with us. I hope you continue in great happiness.

Pam said...

A beautiful positive post Deb. I have been waiting for you to post, anxious to hear how it all went, but in my heart knowing only good could come of this, knowing many others who have had great success with a hip replacement.
So heart-warming to read of your dear animals- they are a real gift in our lives.
Wishing you continued happy healing Deb - this post is such good news.

Amber said...

beautiful. beautiful.beautiful.



Beautifully written. Such a trying time for you yet you write about it with such freshness and vitality --- almost makes me want to have the same journey. (Not quite)
So thrilled that you are coming along so well.
If you are looking for something to read I just published my book of short stories only on Kindle titled EZRA AND OTHER STORIES. You can read a few sample pages to see if it's something you'd be interested in.
Continue to give yourself plenty of time to recover and DO NOT rush the walking. It will all come in due time. Blessings, Barb

Linda Myers said...

What a gift your writing is!

So glad you're on the other side of this experience, and that you're appreciating the now rather than being restless for the later.

Laura said...

Deb I'm so glad you are healing... not just your hip, though that is wonderful, but the deeper healing of your heart... through this process of letting go, trusting what you now know, everything changes.

blessings to you on this awakening journey.

Stacy Crawford said...

To answer you question, we went to Outdoor school the first week of November. It was late in the season and the coldest week of the month. It rained almost the whole time because we were getting the remnants of Hurricane Sandy. Even with all those things the kids had a wonderful time.

Anonymous said...

So glad nothing was a bad as you feared Deb and that you are now well on the way to recovery.Wishing you well over the next few weeks! :-)

Terri Tiffany said...

I know that I've missed coming here after reading your post. Lovely. I am happy you are making it through your surgery and seeing all the good with it! Thanks for stopping by my blog to say hello!

Sandi said...

I've been such a neglegent blogger lately, but decided tonight, after having a super crappy day and arriving home crabbier than I can remember in a very long time, to check a few blogs. Lo and behold, I find a new post from you and I'm immediately cheered. I smile as I read your beautifully written words, and shake my head. Oh I'm so grateful that these little irritations, challenges, inconveniences and frustrations are all so very . . . Temporary! Hallelujah!!

Thank you, Deb, for once again, for a post that uplifts, and reminds me to treasure the blessings of love, the comfort of friends, the gift of time.

I needed to read and remember.

love and healing hugs to you.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Why does it not surprise me that you have found the positive in this body jarring event. I hope you walk a little further and hurt a little less with each passing moment. Take good care.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

You have written this s clearly as an experience that many go through but words are not there. What a suoer account! And best of all since I 'm late reading it I know you are much better now. BRAVO!

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