Hip hip hooray
I remember asking my surgeon the following questions: ‘Aside death, what is the worst outcome of this surgery?’ ‘in terms of improvement compared to the current situation’what do you think a realistic outcome one year post-surgery?’
He responded with a question for me. ‘What would you like to do after surgery? What are your goals?’
I told him I would be really happy if I could walk to my supermarket again and was able to swim again. The supermarket is about 900m from my home.
‘Anything else?’ he asked. ‘Yes. If I can walk again I want to go to London, because I have never been to London.’
My surgeon wrote down the goals and said that if the surgery was succesful my goals would be within reach. Then he went on to answer the second question. From a medical perspective, the worst outcome is an infection, which destroys the bonetissue and leaves the patient without a hip joint. I heard myself asking ‘and then what?’. He explained that in that case I probably would not be able to walk again, at least until the infection is gone, and maybe never. ‘And how are these patients doing in terms of quality of life?’ His answer brought the reassurance I think I was seeking. ‘They don’t experience physical pain anymore and two years after the failed surgery they generally feel that life in a wheelchair is a life worth living.’ And I knew I could eventually accept that outcome too, although of course that was not the desired outcome. I was already used to a wheelchair at that time and know quite some people who live happy lifes on wheels.
On 19 December 2016 I woke up to a new life as that day my biological right hip was replaced with a titanium hip.
So today my right hip celebrates its first birthday. Ehm… yes and no. Of course that hip is no entity of its own like Thing from The Addams Family. On the other hand, it feels good to just stand still for while and look back to one year ago and especially at the goals I set pre-surgery. My life today (and in the past year) is beyond expectations. Within six weeks after surgery I was able to walk without crutches. And within about 5 months I was able to walk to the supermarket. Up to 7 months after surgery I have been very busy recovering, exploring and discovering everyday life with my new leg. I started a new job, went on holiday to Italy and London. I went out dancing, and started working with a wonderful personal trainer.
For me, the time pre-surgery and 7 months post surgery can be best described as a crash course at the school of life along with experienced transformational stress and pain. And growth.
I learned that pain is the right hand of growth and transformation. Growth and change are often painful. But avoiding this type of pain leads to another kind: that of being stuck. I learned pain can be empowering... Only recently I discovered that physical pain can also be good. Through fitness and icebaths. Sore muscles grow stronger (ask an athlete). And just sitting in ice was a wonderful experience to go through the pain of the cold. And it is absolutely worth it (vlog will follow!).
Here I found the following study to provide a good description of the meaning of reflections related to hip (and knee) replacement surgery, which I think, sounds familiar for everyone who as ever underwent an operation. I fully agree that having a total hip replacement is an extensive life event and am happy the, on all levels, very intense experience has enriched me with beautiful life lessons and this unshakeble presence of something I would call inner peace. The recovery process demanded me to focus on myself, but after that I felt the need to reach out. The past few months I’ve spent (re)connecting with friends, family and other loved ones and I feel more connected than ever before.
I am grateful for all the support I received during the surgery and recovery. Everyday I find myself truly madly deeply in love with life. I even detect crazy instant infatuation when I see new possibilities. (imagine a minion seeing a... banana). Last but not least, I am grateful for all the loving people in my life. Thank you for being there and showing up.
So am I celebrating today? Yes. I am celebrating life. Are you with me?