The Impatient Patient
For all who know me, patience has never been a stronghold in my pantheon of virtues. It has never actually occupied even a lower berth on the slow local train full of attributes that I have managed to steam-engine around my entire life.
This has been yet another “Year of the Knife”, one among several I have weathered in my life, and one in which I have had the opportunity to approach patience in two distinctly different manners.
In past years, when I have had more than one procedure, whether surgeries, large or small, or other invasive medical intrusions, I have usually chosen to forge ahead with all throttles open wide, get the specifics behind me, get on with the business of the recovery and return to life at full speed as soon as possible.
Youthful folly and impetuous impatience? Hardly, as many of these operations were undertaken in years then more applicable to middle age than now, so…… folly, maybe, impatience, definitively.
And so this year, there were two.
Yet another repair of a worn out hip replacement from the last century and most recently, the rebuilding and repair of a foot gone so horribly wrong that not only was my ability to engage in my one remaining fetishistic indulgence (shoe shopping) totally curtailed, but my ability to walk, exercise or even stand comfortably was now completely gone.
I undertook the due diligence portion for both of these procedures seriously, I interviewed doctors, surgeons and therapists. I consulted multiple professionals for each operation multiple times. And then I re-interviewed and re-consulted.
And then I forged ahead.
Full speed ahead.
First the hip.
I had had the left hip revised (a repair akin to changing a flat tire as the surgeon said although there were knives and better hardware involved) several years back in California and have had excellent results so I was not intimidated by this one in the slightest. I was more annoyed that I had to keep dislocating this hip in order to “prove” to the my new set of doctors here in Portland that it was, in fact, in need of repair. These dislocations were painful, costly and largely unnecessary. I may not be a doctor but I play one in real life so just listen to me and do as I say!
Justification logged, surgery scheduled, away we go. As far as major invasive procedures go this was a breeze. 18 hours in the hospital……18 hours…….that’s barely enough time to come out of anesthesia. Actually, it was not enough time to come out of anesthesia as I would discover when the spinal block wore off 24 hours later but true to my nature, I got up, got moving and was really the better for having not lain around in a hospital bed for several days acting ill.
Instead, I got up, got showered, got moving and got over it.
I went from two days on a walker directly to a cane for a few weeks instead of the normal walker-cane-crutches-6 weeks routine and directly back to the gym after that. Within a month, I was “running” 3-4 miles a day on the elliptical and speaking regularly to joint replacement classes on the benefits and expectations associated with their upcoming surgeries.
The hip thing out of the way, I turned my attention to the foot thing. Here I’ll use a visual aid for simple clarification.
Human or Alien? You choose.
This one was more problematic. I had had bunion surgery years before and here’s where Patience vs Patients comes into play.
And Youth vs. Experience……….I suppose.
After that surgery, painful as it was, there was nothing I was going to miss in my life because I had some “minor” discomfort going on. Certainly not the tickets to see the Guitars and Saxs in concert that had been purchased months before. Certainly not the fact that it was a mere 2 days after surgery, there were drugs for that! And I had them.
And I took them.
And I went to that show, foot throbbing to every beat of my heart and every note of music that was played that night. I hobbled about on crutches, not heading the best advice of “stay down”, “don’t walk”, “sit tight”.
And if I could get through that night, then I would simply get on with my life again, driving too soon, riding the motorcycle too soon (think tight leather boots on scarred sore toes), working in the antique store too much too soon, lifting furniture, moving stock, being an arrogant semi-youthful ass.
Or is the ass of a middle-aged arrogant over-achiever?
And the resulting deform/reformation of that foot was inevitable. I would pay that price forward.
I still get that bill, daily……..forever.
And so we reach the present.
“My Left Foot” as I life to refer, again, to my version of the “film” debut they were about to perform. No red carpet here, only a sterile field, some potent drugs and yet another well trained surgeon with a skill set of experience that trumped my vastly under-rated aftercare set of credentials.
Another day procedure.
Another rapid deployment home.
More of the Oxy Twins, Contin and Codone.
But much……..much……more of the pain. Even with the Twins on board nothing stopped this pain.
The foot is an amazing apparatus. It supports us tirelessly all or lives, enabling us to get around like no other creatures on Earth, upright, agile, mobile.
In Portland, particularly, we see runners, bikers, hikers, skiers, every form of human-driven locomotion possible, in profusion, every day. Sure there are the attendant aches and pains and blisters, Dr. Scholls handles them.
But what happens when you really need more help? What happens when what you need is this?
And what happens after you get this done?
Here lies the nexus of Patient vs Patience.
Here is the junction of the super hiway of youth and the cruisable freeway of experience and age-induced wisdom.
And so I power through once again, this time tempered, like the fine steel they have intruded into my foot, aged with not only years but pain and experience into a fine couvee of hi notes and low body aches.
In two days I quickly detach myself from the fog and bad dreamland of the Oxy Twins and learn that the pain is now, once more, that throbbing, slow healing ache of a pain that only the passage of motionless days will help heal.
And this more experienced (aged, some might say) Patient now has the Patience to be motionless….for a time……clear-headed and searching the coming months for that time in the distance that I can once again run, walk and leap with the joy and almost the agility of the youthful and imPatient soul I have always fallen back upon.
I am now a better, more Patient, patient….and Patience is, after all is said and done, a virtue.