In exactly one week plus a few hours, my body is going to be disassembled.
Oh, they'll put it back together again, no doubt, perhaps even in the right configuration. But in place of a failing left hip, I will have a titanium femoral ball connected to a long spike driven deep into the barrel of my femur. The ball will rest in a metal cup that's screwed into my pelvis, which will have been routed out to accept it.
In order to get at this peccant part of my anatomy, the leg will have to be -- there's no delicate way to put it -- taken off. Disconnected. Dissected. A large incision, some eight to ten inches long, will be made in my ass and thigh, muscles will be parted from their moorings, tendons and ligaments snipped, and the leg dislocated in a mighty heave that no doubt will require the amassed strength of every man-jack in the operating theater.
I picture my anesthetized body lying supine on the operating table, my leg cocked off at some bizarre and unnatural angle that it was never meant to describe, the ball-end of the femur exposed to air it's never met before, and to the surgeons' carpentry tools. Like a well-roasted chicken, I imagine, the drumstick-bone poking out through lacerated dark meat.
That I have agreed to allow this drawing-and-quartering of my body, and this sawing and chiseling of my skeleton, is a measure of what I'm willing to do to make pain go away. I had an operation back in June to try to save the hip, and since August I've taken two Voltarens a day to keep the inflammation down. For the most part, the drug had its effect, allowing me to function in a more or less normal way, as long as I took it easy and walked with a cane. Every once in a while I'd forget to take a pill, and the returning inflammation would remind me, like taking a rolled-up newspaper to a naughty puppy, just how thin is the line of chemistry that stands between me and serious agony.
Now, with surgery a week off, the doctor has ordered me to stop taking any sort of analgesic that might interfere with coagulation, and once again the pain is returning like a freight train. Sitting, standing, lying, walking, each presents its own unique little punishments. Through a stupid series of miscommunications, I wasn't able to get a prescription for Vicodin this weekend, and right at the moment I'm one sore naughty puppy.
Pain makes you withdraw from the world, and I'm very angry at it for that. I'd have loved to have gone to the antiwar demo down at the Mall this weekend, but even a leisurely walk around the Capitol with some like-minded enthusiasts would have felled me like an ox. I don't walk the dogs. I don't roller-blade, my once and (D.V.) future favorite pastime. I don't hike my mountain. Many things have been taken from me by pain.
I want them back. God damn it.