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free at last!

Posted Sep 12 2008 12:04pm

The nurse and the physical therapist came yesterday and discharged me. All my vitals are stable, I'm off the drugs, and I can do all the exercises without help. Except that now she has given me balancing poses: walking forward on my toes and heels, semi-lunges, and balancing on one leg (tree pose). Can't do tree pose yet, but that's a good multi-task for while I brush my teeth.


Ed and I celebrated by going to dinner in the bar at Capital Grille. Tip: barstools are easier to get in and out of than chairs. I've always loved to eat in the bar anyway.

More about how I prepared.

I am on the board of a private school in Paradise Valley. We had a nominating committee meeting one day after my Tucson visit, and one of the women on the nominating committee was a retired orthopedic surgeon. She told me she had practiced many years ago with a woman named Janet Whirlow, and that Janet was the kind of doctor who would look at the interconnectedness of body, mind and spirit, not to mention the interconnectedness of hip and back.

So I made an appointment, and when I got into Janet's office I felt like I was home. Disclaimer: remember I am 65 and grew up in an era when men dominated medicine. Although I actually have had two wonderful female internists, I've NEVER seen a woman surgeon before,and I thought I was going to have to make a mental leap to trust Janet. She's about 5'3", weighs about 100 pounds, and looks -- well --pretty. I have a hilarious mental image of her in the operating room standing on a box to get above some 300-pound guy strapped to the table as she takes the saw, hammer, and drill to his hip. Hip surgery, after all, is carpentry. Period.

Janet took my X-rays and put them up on her light board. She didn't dismiss the idea that a hip surgery could screw up my back. She didn't tell me I should forget about yoga. And because she took the time to talk to me, I began to cry in her office. I told her the other surgeons really treated me like a disembodied hip, that I had never had surgery with general anaesthesia before, and about my fears. She told me she had left a large practice because she wanted the time to talk to people like me.

She also told me that I should train for the surgery, and that I'd have a better result if I didn't rush into it, but took the time to get ready properly. She told me that I would have to donate my own blood, that I would need about six weeks to recover because my surgery would not be minimally invasive, and that minimally invasive surgery wasn't really appropriate for me, because in order to equalize my leg lengths, straighten out my pelvis to protect my back, and position the hip properly so it wouldn't dislocate if I went back to yoga, she would have to open me up enough to actually see the joint. It made sense.

Then she told me I wasn't mentally ready for surgery and probably would be better off waiting until I was, and she recommended me to a physical therapist. And not just any therapist, but a hip expert.

This was May. My birthday was the 14th, and I had scheduled the Tucson surgery right after, so it would be covered by Medicare. By this time, although I was limping pretty badly, I was still terrified about going to the Tucson surgeon, even though he was minimally invasive, so I bailed. I called and cancelled. This meant I could not have surgery again until Thanksgiving, because I was planning to leave Arizona for the summer, and then I was going on a cruise to the Italian Mediterranean in September, and then I was producing the First Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference in early November. So I put off the decision, and instead decided to try everything else in a wild effort to avoid surgery.

And that's how I met Bonnie, who loves dogs.





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