Sunday, June 6, 2010

Someone always has it worse.

Oh, poor me. I'm going to have elbow surgery, and I will be in pain for a few weeks as I recover. Life has been so hard on me. Everyone pat me on the back for being somewhat upbeat, despite my difficulties.

*ahem* What a load of crap. Really, I have it rough, but to assume that I'm the center of the universe...? That's ego. What is also ego is seeing a thread on GitP about someone else having surgery and thinking, Oh, sure. Show me up, why don't you. I'm just having a nerve in my elbow freed, so your wife just HAD TO have her hip removed to make me look bad. Right?

I should be shot for such thoughts. Thankfully, thinking isn't a crime. Besides, the thought was more along the lines of getting someone to smile, and not all that serious. Still, it slapped some perspective on the surgery I'll be having on Wednesday. Here's what the Playgrounder wrote:

Hey gang,

I'm not the newest person to the threads, but I was hoping to ask for kind thoughts and prayers this coming week. My wife has to have major hip surgery -- a resection arthroplasty -- which means that the surgeon will be taking out the artificial hip joint she has had for about 10 years and putting nothing back in. Susan's pelvis is too fragile for another rebuild, so they have no choice but to leave her with half a right femur. She will have nothing in her pelvis on the right side after this, and MAY be confined to a wheelchair for a long time. We're going for a walker after long hours of therapy. That is for the future though. Susan has had four hip replacements, and the last one included a substantial amount of cadaver bone installed in the pelvis. Well, the pelvis has just deteriorated, and here we are.

Before anyone talks about second opinions and such, please understand that the surgeon we're seeing is the chief of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University, pretty much the go-to guy for any sort of specialized surgery in the west half of the USA, and one of the leading experts on hip recovery surgeries in the world (his name is Dr. Stuart Goodman if you're curious).

Anyhow, pray for us if that's your thing, think kind thoughts, sacrifice a goat, whatever you're willing to do to make our karma more positive in this. We leave our town for Stanford on Tuesday, June 8, and Susan checks in on Wednesday June 9.

Thank you.

No right pelvic bone, no right hip, and half of a right femur. If someone had told me that I'd have to have such a surgery, I'd pause and ask if IV morphine wasn't an alternative solution. "Just set the machine for a maximum dose and leave me be. I'd rather be doped up and unconscious than lose most of the framework that allows me basic locomotion." It's positively terrifying. And me, the guy who usually cracks jokes when faced with such adversity, can't think of a single crack to make.

This is coming from the guy who likely faces the amputation of a foot or two in the future. "Well, if they have to take my feet, maybe they can replace them with rocket roller-skates!" When I had ostemyelitis all those years ago, and a doctor suggested taking a few toes, I declined, telling them my ability to count to 20 would be hampered.

But the best I could think of for Susan was possibly asking Huey Lewis and the News to come out with a song, "It's Hip to be Hipless." After that, I got nothing.

I usually try to empathize with someone who faces surgery to help with chronic medical conditions. That's what my multiple nerve decompression operations were for, as are the upcoming elbow surgeries. These procedures helped/will help with complications of diabetes. But this woman is facing major reconstruction of her pelvis and hip, and so I am at a loss as to how I could possibly empathize properly.

What's worse is my desire to help. That's a part of my nature that I sometimes wish I could put away for a while, especially when things are so grim. Even for a total stranger, I want to throw on tights and a cape and fly to the rescue. I want to go on a quest for the genie in the bottle, or to find the magic wand that will fix everything. I want to do...more. But I can't, and that frustrates me.

Ah, but all the Playgrounder wants is prayers. I suppose I can whip one up, and maybe G-d will actually listen.

Dear Lord...I am facing surgery on Wednesday, and I'm hoping You will provide me with a speedy recovery. But while I ask You to watch over me, I would appreciate a great deal of Your focus to be on this woman who is facing such a dangerous and difficult procedure. You have given her strength and bravery to face her illnesses up until this moment. Now I ask that You concentrate Your efforts, granting her, and her husband, greater strength and bravery. Your miracles need not be as they are in the Bible. Instead, I ask that You guide the doctors caring for her so that they provide her with a minimal amount of suffering, and a swift recovery from the trials ahead of her.

And while I'm here, thank You for putting perspective once again on my own trials. I am not grateful for this woman's suffering, but I am grateful in the knowledge that things could be worse for me, but aren't. You may not guide my every move in life. You may not be the greatest presence in my life. But I am appreciative of the little miracles You continuously present to me.


No, I'm not very religious. I consider myself an agnostic Jew, if such a thing can truly exist. Still, a part of me believes that there may well be a higher power, and if He exists, then I'd like to imagine that He and I have an understanding.

Okay...I'm tired. I'm done rambling for the moment. But if any of you out there are so inclined, say a prayer for Susan.

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