Health

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Bitch and Moan

“Getting old isn’t for sissies.”  Bette Davis

I’ve always been precocious, but didn’t imagine the downside of aging prematurely. Lynn reminds me that I’m only 57, encouraging me to act my age, support I appreciate. Despite my best efforts with medication, hot baths, and swimming ( my favourite form of exercise), I am spending more time in bed in the evening with my friend Fiona (the heating pad), than I would like.

I have osteoarthritis, the wear and tear kind, particularly in my hips. My appointment with the hip surgeon is November 1st. My pre-op physical is October 1st. My appointment with my foot surgeon is on October 25th,  because I also have stage four flat foot.  A birth defect expressing itself in later life.  Just the confirmation a chronic depressive needs who often sees himself that way – defective.

 Dr Hammond did a fine job, spending five hours reconstructing my left foot last year. (See “Waiting for Dr. Hammond” in Music for Men Over Fifty, linked from the Shot Glass Journal in the “Works” section of my site.) This year he will be doing the right. Without surgery I would be  walking on my ankles in a year or two.

 Fortunately there is currently not much pain in my feet, and if the surgery goes well, I will avoid arthritis in them and ankle replacements, which are now possible but difficult and a last, expensive (thank you universal health care), resort. So the pain is all about my hips. I use forearm crutches to walk any kind of distance though I have a lovely walking cane I picked up at Antiques and Funk on Main Street for ten bucks. I use that inside and for short distances.

I am also the proud owner of a German designed and made wheelchair, in which I tool around the government office where I work. While it won’t go through the door to the washroom, I can still manage the distance to the stalls, though I’ve given up on the urinals. The handicapped washroom is actually on the fourth floor but I don’t plan to spend the time it takes to get there. The chair, unlike the crutches, allows me to carry things, even hold a coffee in my hand because I can use my feet for propulsion, as long as I keep my weight off my hips.

 I bought the wheelchair (thanks to my benefit plan) last year for the first foot surgery when it was clear I wouldn’t be able to use crutches to take my substantial weight, partially because of a shoulder I dislocated trying to climb into a Light Armoured Vehicle at Canadian Forces base Shilo in 2008 when I was working on Afghanistan Confessions (see in “Works”). I cannot put any weight on my foot after foot bone fusion surgery, which involves up to seven 4” screws and a bone graft sourced from around my knee, for three months. So I spend it in my wheelchair. There is little pain after the first week, just the inconvenience of a cast nearly up to my knee until the bones fuse.

So the plan is to do that first, because I need to be walking properly for my hip replacement, with recovery facilitated by movement and walking as soon as humanly possible (I’m thinking 2-3 days).  The foot surgery is planned for early January, meaning the earliest the hip can be replaced is sometime between April and June. I have heard only good things about the results of hip replacements, eliminating  the pain I’m experiencing completely. So I hope.  Meanwhile I bitch and moan.

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