Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pain

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.

21 comments:

EmployeeoftheMonth said...

Best to you friend.
Promise the Durer wind bladder player picture is replaced by a LBJesque photo of your cool, nay, sexy, post-op scar.

Mr. Natural said...

Yup...I too know the things pain takes...getting old aint for pussies, is it?

Akatabi said...

Virtual lashings of Mulliner's Buck-U-Uppo go out to you over the Internets.

Blue Wren said...

That fancy-schmancy new hip is going to give most of those happy things back to you, Neddie. You'll be dancin' up and down your mountain and outrunnin' the dogs. Sending plenty of courage and empathy your way, my friend. Patience.

Mike Kretzler said...

Best of luck to you. Come back soon.

Fred Wickham said...

Dammit, I wish there was some way I could get my bottle of oxycontin to you. If you were within 50 miles, I'd send it in a taxi. But I'd probably go to jail if I sent it in the mail. Anyhow, I hope you're comfortable soon. This ain't right.

Matt said...

Neddie Jingo: the only badass I know who actually has a bad ass.

Though I like you when you're ornery, I hope that you get through this as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Mark Smeraldi said...

Pain... irrefutable proof that you're still alive. Seriously though, I hope this all goes well for you. It sounds as if your Dr. is quite the Pro from Dover,so no worries there at least.They're gonna drug the jesus out of you,and when its over you'll wish you had done it earlier.

Kevin Wolf said...

Oh, man, Neddie. Wish I could do something for ya. Looking forward to when you're feeling like your old self (even with new bits).

The Viscount LaCarte said...

Ned,

There's nothing that anyone can say that is going to ease that pain, except for, "The operation was a success and you are on the road to a speedy recovery" which is not within my power to say, though I'm certain will be said sometime next Monday night or Tuesday morning. That and some narcotics.

I can tell you that I appreciate you making the effort to come out last week to drink some wine and share your wit and wisdom with Xtcfan and yours truly in your current condition.

You are in my thoughts and positive vibrations...

Fred Roberts said...

That is rough news indeed, Ned. You deserve a speedy and uncomplicated recovery, and that's what we'll be wishing for you.

A screaming comes across the sky, and it's time to hit the PCA pump again...

Tom said...

Your remark reminded me of the beginning of Robert Reich's memoir, where he talks about having his legs sawn off (I think that he was having his knees replaced), and he flashes back to a boat trip that he was on in which he was ill, and this big, earnest kid from Arkansas kept asking if there was anything that he could do for him.

Anyway, best of luck with the operation. Maybe you could get the same tattoo that Henry Rollins has:

PART ANIMAL
PART MACHINE

QRED said...

Good luck with the upgrade, man.

As long as they've got you apart, why not spring for the all-in-one universal hip adapter option? Swap off your plain, ordinary leg and snap in a jet engine, a rocket launcher, or even a garden-weasel (Rollerblade and Rototill in one easy step!).

But I don't know what your insurance will cover.

JD said...

Surgery's a breeze, what with the PCA pump (although the lady with the keys keeps the brakes on that). Make sure they give you good drugs for rehab.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

Best of luck with the new hip! Funny, I just saw an article on the front page of Yahoo on hip resurfacing - the latest rage in hip surgery (link). I guess you never notice things like that until you're thinking about them, and then they're everywhere.

Ol' Pal D said...

This old judoka (both knees, not hip, and I've just got screws, no fancy-ass Mech shit, so after this I'm the pussy) says give in, let 'em have their way with you, then be aggressive as hell on the rehab, 'cos that's the key, baby. Take all your meds, don't be a hero - and come back big. Do it for the kid, y'know?

D

Anonymous said...

Best of luck - I recommend rehabbing on a bike as well (worked for Floyd, dint it?) Seriously - good luck.

Dragon Laugh said...

Best of luck to you!
-Wren's fledgeling

Neddie said...

Thanks, everybody. I'm torn between maintaining a stoical silence about this deal, and blogging about every emotional and physical molecule of it.

Also, thanks for the offers to dig into your collections of Hillbilly Heroin, but the doc finally hooked me up yesterday. I'm a little, what's the word, pixillated. Stay away from me on the roads.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

I'm torn between maintaining a stoical silence about this deal, and blogging about every emotional and physical molecule of it.

If this was a democracy, I'd vote for the latter.

I guess you won't be able to do the live Super Bowl blog this time around. Pity. That was fun last year.

treepeony said...

Bon voyage, Neddie dear. My knee, new as of September 5, has youthified me back ten years. May your new hip do the same for you. Don't expect kindness and mercy from the surgeon and the PTs, though, bless their hearts anyway. People who go in for the hammer and tongs tend toward the chilly side. Just do what they say, as my son advised me, and be grateful there are ghouls who can stand such work.