Thirteen years ago today I had bilateral hip replacement surgery. Is that dramatic or what? You can imagine that it was something of a “to do” back in the day.
I had two great fears in approaching the operation. The first was the fact that after the surgery I would be confined to my bed for at least a week. Oh dear, this is still a bit delicate to discuss. Well, the thing is…oh fine. I’ll just say it. Bedpans. I was utterly horrified about the idea of using a bedpan. Several people had prepared me gently for this, nurses, doctors, a social worker or two. There was nothing to be embarrassed about, everyone was a professional, it would be no big deal, and it would simply have to be done at least for the first couple of days. Ha! I smiled and nodded politely when they discussed it with me, but privately I vowed I would never lower myself to that. My plan, as I recall, was simply to walk to the bathroom and use the toilet like an adult. I would be a marvel! Everyone would be stunned by my fortitude and resiliency! Really, all one needed was the proper motivation and one could accomplish anything. So yeah. That was my big plan. Just get up and walk! Problem solved. Oh Little Hannah. You are a treasure.
My other deep fear was the fact that I would be naked during the surgery. No, I’m not kidding. Of course in real life I was modestly draped, really entirely covered except for the portion they were working on, but I hadn’t watched a lot of surgery shows at that point, so how was I supposed to know? In my mind I imagined my body splayed out on the table for all the world to see. And by world I mean…doctors. Male doctors! I was terribly embarrassed about the whole thing. As any self respecting self conscious fourteen year old should be.
During the pre-op appointment, I sat with my doctor wearing nothing but a gown and a little robe thing. My doctor wanted to draw lines on my hips to mark wear the incisions would be, but before lifting my gown asked me if I was wearing underwear. Internally I was kicking myself for casting my undies aside prematurely, while outside I was trying to play it cool, all: “Who me? No I never wear underwear. What am I a nerd?” It was a little traumatic. Poor Little Hannah.
In retrospect it is possible that I was nervous about the wrong things. I do remember a couple of times trying to drum up a little fear of oh, I don’t know, dying. But it never felt real. I definitely enjoyed the sense of drama it gave me, but I was never really scared of dying, or of pain, or of any of it really. My fear was basically limited to going to the bathroom, and people seeing my nuddy-self.
I like to give past Hannah a hard time. I blame her for a lot of my current problems. Like, if past-Hannah had dealt with her email, I wouldn’t have 48 unanswered emails in my inbox right now! And if past-Hannah had just applied herself a little, I could be a lawyer or a doctor or a trophy wife by now. And really past-Hannah…are all of those brownies necessary?
But in this particular matter, I look back at past-Hannah with a little bit of awe. Because you see, what fourteen year old Hannah did, was something that twenty-seven year old Hannah would have a much harder time with. If I had to make that choice now, I would be pouring over outcomes and googling horror stories, convincing myself they were all about to happen to me. Man, what a gift that was. If I hadn’t done that surgery, I would most likely be in a wheelchair right now. It’s kind of stunning when I think back on things I could not do for before that surgery. I mean, things like walking around school, yes. But also truly basic things, like getting up off the floor by myself. Imagine having to ask someone to lift you every time you tried to stand. I don’t even think about it anymore. My life is so different than what it was, and what it could have been—and you will have to excuse me for getting a little schmaltzy for moment, but I am so, so grateful to the fourteen year old me who went through the hard part, so current me could reap the benefits. (And, you know. I guess the surgeons helped a little too.)
So, happy hipiversary to me I guess! I always feel like I should throw a hula party or something to commemorate, but in the meantime, feel free to swivel your hips in general celebration.