A Loco Viewpoint
Last week, my orthopedic surgeon did some warranty work on the hip he had installed in my right rear frame in 2007. Although the ball-joint job was supposed to last ten or fifteen years longer than it did, the components he used apparently hadn’t received that email. Instead of enduring my extreme physical lifestyle, (not sure if it was the darts or the ladder-golf) the bionic appendage started leaking heavy metals into my body. There was crushing disappointment when I learned I wouldn’t be getting super powers, as a result. I thought maybe I would be the superhero known as “Metallica”, until Cupcake pointed out that was the name of a heavy metal head-banging, rock group which fits my style about as much as if I was a member of the Pussycat Dolls.
“So, here’s the game plan,” intoned my surgeon, gently describing what would be ahead for the next few hours. “First, we will render you subconscious, slice into your sensitive, well-insulated, tender skin. From there, I will shove aside whatever muscles I can, and hack away any parts, chunks or organs that appear infected by the metalosis. After that, it’s just a simple matter of cutting off your hip-stem; replacing the metal ball with a plastic covered model and chiseling out your old cup and replacing it with a new one. Then we’ll reattach whatever bits of meat we can, and sew you back up as good as new. Following that step, other than the three months of agonizingly painful rehab, we’ll be done! See? I told you it wasn’t all that complicated or scary. Do you have any questions?”
It took me a few seconds to respond as I tried to absorb the information calmly. When this failed, I received the information with horror and blind panic. This worked much better.
“You mean, besides ‘where’s the nearest exit’ and ‘can I have my walker back’?” I quavered.
“Mr. McKerracher, you are going to have to relax and be strong,” the doctor said sternly. “Now give me the teddy bear.”
I reluctantly handed over ol’ Button Eye, clenched my eyelids and tried to use Vulcan mind disciplines to combat the terror that had become infused throughout my entire being. I realized with some regret that I would make a lousy Vulcan, despite how dashing I’d look with pointy ears.
I could feel some kind of face mask being placed over my nose and mouth. I became a wee bit concerned when I noticed I couldn’t breathe. I tried to tell the suddenly-crowded population of the operating room about my little problem and they just reacted like I wasn’t even there.
I was about to give them a piece of my mind when a woman, I can only assume it was a nurse, although it might have been a cruel passer-by, was shaking me vigorously and telling me to wake up. Apparently, the whole breathing thing had been straightened out sometime during the surgery.
When I opened my eyes, however, instead of either Nurse Ratchet or some random hobo, my view was filled with that of Cupcake peering down at me in worry, then relief, as my eyelids finally managed to stay open for more than a nanosecond. In fact, I remember it crossing my mind at the time that I could never recall my eyelashes ever weighing as much as they did.
“How are you doing? You look really beautiful right now.” I smiled at her as best I could. It must have been a particularly difficult question to answer as her response was a sudden sob, wisps of tears dotting her eyes.
‘Great,’ I thought to myself and whatever other voices in my head that were listening at the time. ‘She must have been watching some stupid chick flick.’
“Oh, sweetie…” she began, then appeared to lose her train of thought, if the long awkward pause was any indication. “How are you doing?”
“I’m okay, honey,” I smiled. “Better than you, anyway. I mean, you’re the one with the tissue issues.”
“I’m just relieved, that’s all,” her explanation underscored by the odd snuffle. “I thought I lost you.”
“Good heavens, darlin’,” I stopped my eyes from rolling around from the anesthetic long enough to roll them on purpose. “I’ve had terrific care. There was never any risk of me croaking.”
I decided not to tell her about the “HELP! HELP! I can’t breathe!” part just yet.
“No, I mean I really thought I lost you,” she explained. “They moved you from the orthotic ward to a whole different building away from the other hip patients.”
“I am being blackballed by the entire Orthopedic Department?” I said, seeking confirmation. “They don’t want the bad example mixing in with the rest of the prison population.”
“It’s more like there was no room at the inn,” Cupcake returned consolingly. “The doctor had said he was shoe-horning you into the system. Just be grateful they had a bed for you, period.”
“Oh, I’m grateful,” I winced as a jab of pain radiated from my fresh wound. The force of it curled my toes and set every hair on my body ramrod straight making me look uncomfortably like Ol’ Button Eye.
“In about three months, when the torturous physio ends and I’m done with having “Duct Tape brand” wound dressings ripping my hairs out by their roots, and people jabbing me with needles for either pickups or deliveries, I’ll be most grateful for the system,” I admitted. “Until then, I’ll probably just be grateful for you.”
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The Hip Revision