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27 June 2012 @ 03:39 am
I returned home from General Assembly around this time yesterday. It was a very full time with everything from beer and giggles, to getting caught being naughty, to huge interfaith vigil and protest. I don't know if you heard about the rally outside the Tent City jail complex in Arizona, but I was there.

At the moment, though, much of my mind is on the 26th of June, which this post is missing by three-and-something-hours. I only woke up at 4pm--after the 14 hours I needed to recover from the convention (delays on baggage release and detours on main highways meant my brother and I didn't make it home until late)--so I missed much of the day that often produces many thoughts.

My ceramic replacement hip, Fluffy, turned 5. I got her when I was 17; I also have my old hip in a biohazard bag.

Sometimes I forget I have a replacement altogether, and those moments are joyous. A surprising number of the moments in which I do remember I am bionic are also very happy and joyous. I know that, as far as disability goes, I am very lucky--and privilege came into that. It's not something I forget. But I know, for my own sanity, that I have to let myself feel those times of thinking what I don't have (full mobility, full or stronger trust in my body through my youthful years) and what I do have and don't like (pain).

My 5th hip anniversary is, like many things I seem to talk about, bittersweet.

On the one leg, I am grateful and happy that my hip has lasted five years--and that the fact indicates that it will probably make it to 10. I am glad that I've had no real problems (ones that would lead me back to the hospital) and that the doctor has remained impressed with my flexibility and ability.

On the other leg, I think of being 22 with a hip--and leg, truly--that will continue to pain me. I think of how such a simple thing as standing up, or as walking, is not so simple and certainly not so pain-free for me. I think of how I grin and say "but it's also a great accessory!" about my canes, but how sometimes I grip them until my knuckles are white and my arm aches from taking on the extra weight of my body. I think of the times my leg buckles, when I don't completely trust that it will hold me. I think of the things I can't do, or can't do the way I want to, or can't do well enough that I don't do them at all. I think of things like soccer and how badly my body just wants to do, and how seldom I can, and the repercussions of when I do these things anyway.

I think of being 15, recovering from the worst of my operations, not able to put weight on my leg and frightened shitless every second that I've failed, let my foot touch down, and ruined everything. I think of being 17 and going to my interviews at English universities in a wheelchair, but smiling away as I answered questions and considered this new academic life overseas. I think of being 17 with a dying hip--avascular necrosis of the femoral head, hooray!--and the 'end of school year' party (a gleeful time to look with excitement upon senior year) and how my body was in so much pain that it shut me down and put me to sleep. I think of being 18 and standing for my first day of senior year with my English teacher circling around me saying, "No cane! I see no cane!" I think of being 21 and trying to get up but being unable to, and falling back to my bed fearing that this time, I'd be unable to walk. I think of being 22 and marching in the Gay Pride Parade, the only thing brighter than my head-to-foot rainbow being my Cheshire-cat grin.

I don't even remember when I realised that I needed to take on the cane; it may have been after high school, in my first year of college. Now it feels like a part of me. (I don't feel that my forgetting it occasionally distracts from that statement; as people have stated of my day-dreamer habits, "You'd lose your head if it weren't attached at your shoulders!")

It's funny to me that my actual birthday doesn't tend to come with this bittersweet feeling. Perhaps this is the feeling of "growing older", but isn't a reminder I get when I celebrate another year of my life; perhaps this is a feeling I get on the anniversaries of the points along my hip history (puns are great) because I am reminded that I have felt old, sore, and pained before my time. Mine doesn't often feel like a life of growing aware of the passing years, but one of feeling older and pushing myself to be reminded of my youth and wonder for life--which will remain with me until I am gone. (All depends on the definition of youth, I think. Mine was filled with premature puberty, hormone shots, a shattered bone, and too many surgeries rearranging and replacing my body. If now I want to define my youth as a state of mind or a willingness to put my body out there in the name of fun, solidarity, or silliness, then I don't think anyone has the right to stop me!)

So happy 5th birthday, Fluffy my love; happy half-decade. You've helped me march on through much in my life and I couldn't have done it without you. I look forward to taking on more of the world with you in the next five-and-more years to come. Thank you, darling.

(And because I never like to leave my birth-hip out, thank you, my bone-hip, for crawling and stumbling and walking marching and crutching and wheeling as bravely as you did through the first 17-and-one-quarter years of my life. Part of me wishes things had turned out differently and I'd been able to keep you, and the other part of me doesn't know who I'd be then, but thank you either way.)

I think I'll leave with two pictures from weeks after my hip replacement operation, when Fluffy was new and I was handling my convalescent phase in my own way: hippie camp, reading, and Harry Potter.

What is the phrase? "The more things change, the more they stay the same"? *Grins.* Something of that sort. My friend caught me reading (which wasn't terribly hard to do) and snapped a picture.

My family has always had a tradition, when it came to me, of a gift after putting up with something medical (I was in the doctor's every month for a deep thigh shot from seven to 12, with hospital visits every six months). And while attending Rowe Camp was my motivation to heal quickly (I went to Rowe three weeks after the operation), it was not my gift. I had my gift sent to meet me at camp:

This may be my very first picture of my McGonagall hat and me in it. That's my replaced-hip leg, up on the bench. One of the camp co-directors saw me in it and asked if I could be McGonagall and eat up on the stage during "Harry Potter Day" (it was the year of the 7th book, so everyone had to say "spoilers!" when talking about the last book). Years later I applied for a job at that camp a fake "reference" from Minerva McGonagall, stating that she had occasionally taught me over the summers and had sent along one copy of her hat to check up on me following my big operation--for everyone knew that a witch could spy on those who had her hats, once the witch and the hats had bonded. The same director gave me the job. It's funny to me, now, that I got my new hip and my McG hat together; perhaps it helped me accept what felt like an operation that aged me. It's a special hat, anyway. It also helped that it was in my 17th year, my coming-of-age year in the Magical World--and it did indeed feel like more of a bridging year than 18, despite senior year and college applications and college acceptances and proms and graduations.

I feel better now that I've acknowledged my hip's birthday. I'm still otherwise in Recovery Mode from the conference. Tomorrow I can do a big hair-wash (my hair is gross after Phoenix heat and waterclad swimming in a saline pool), some unpacking, some laundry, some cleaning, and some settling back in. Hopefully that can include inbox and flist skimming (I doubt I'll be able to fully catch up) and fandom pursuits, all with my TV shows in the background. (:
Relentless Optimistdreamsrundeep on June 27th, 2012 09:47 am (UTC)
You (and this entry) are pretty darn amazing.

Happy birthday, Fluffy.
Kiwi Crocus: Animal || Pug lick.cranky__crocus on July 5th, 2012 10:32 pm (UTC)
Awwwr. *Blushes up a storm.* Thank you very much, and of course she thanks you too. (;
Feather Quillfeatherxquill on June 27th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
This entry made me tear up a little, in a mostly good way (bittersweet, like you said). Hearing your thoughts is always amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us, and Hppy Birthday Fluffy :D
Kiwi Crocus: Seasonal || Animated lights.cranky__crocus on July 5th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
Awwr. Thank you. ♥ Sorry for the bitter of the tears, but glad to provide the sweet. (: I miss you! Ugh life nomming me up.
kellychambliss: Birthdaykellychambliss on June 27th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday, Fluffy! Thank you for doing such a good job for Kiwi. (But please let her play soccer occasionally).

Beautiful entry, my dear.
Kiwi Crocus: Nature || Turquoise peacock feathers.cranky__crocus on July 5th, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much from Fluffy, and from me as well. (;

(She says she'll try her best.)
therealsnape: SS From Dungeons With Lovetherealsnape on June 27th, 2012 03:47 pm (UTC)
What a beautifully-written entry, and one that will stay with me.

Keep up the good work, Fluffy.
Kiwi Crocus: Shoes || Black heeled ankle boots.cranky__crocus on July 5th, 2012 10:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Oso; that warms my heart. (It's a lot to go through, so it helps to know that the expression of it can get to people in some kind of positive way.)

She thanks you for the kind words and is hoping to keep up the good work. (;
Seekcoldthermistor on June 27th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday, Fluffy! (Sorry about this late response and absences, just got home from travel!) Also, I have to say, thanks for sharing :) My spine problems are nowhere near as bad as yours, but I have to say I empathised, in at least a small way when I was limping all around. Also, to many more years to come with Fluffy!
Kiwi Crocus: Boots || Boots and jeans.cranky__crocus on July 5th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And never worry about late responses--I'm always late to respond to everything (like now, for instance). I completely understand empathising! Spine pain is a total bummer.

Thank you! I sure hope Fluffy and I continue our lovely relationship. :D
CaroRulescarorules on June 27th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)

You are such an inspiration. Strong like an amazon!
Kiwi Crocus: Nature || Under magnolia skies.cranky__crocus on July 5th, 2012 10:41 pm (UTC)
Awwwr. I doubt that very much, but thank you for the kind words all the same!
CaroRulescarorules on July 5th, 2012 11:34 pm (UTC)
You're being too modest, I assure you.
Kiwi Crocus: Seasonal || Sunflowers.cranky__crocus on July 6th, 2012 12:22 am (UTC)
redbeargrlredbeargrl on June 28th, 2012 11:52 am (UTC)
Happy Birthday Fluffy! even though I'm a bit late to the party the feelings are genuine, I assure you.
You Kiwi, and Fluffy, have become an inspiration for me lately. I've never had to deal with chronic pain before so this is all still new to me. Watching you over the years deal with your hip problems and with Fluffy, have given me hope. Your quiet courage and gentle accepting of what is, and not dwelling on what might have been, keep me going. I often, when tempted to sit down and melt into a pile of tears, ask myself "What would Kiwi do?" The answer is usually quit bitching and get on with life.
So thank you m'dear. From an old woman three times your age but only having a tenth of your wisdom, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your example of courage, faith and bravery in the face of adversity.
Who knows, maybe an old Bear can be taught a few new tricks. Wouldn't that be something?
Kiwi Crocus: Alex || Laughing.cranky__crocus on July 6th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
Thank you! (And I'm always late to the party. Or I miss it entirely.)

I'm so sorry you've had to enter into the world of chronic pain!

I wish I could say I never dwell on what might have been, or what once was. I think that's part of the process. What I've learned is that one of the biggest parts of living with chronic pain is having some compassion and grace with the inevitable days. (Some days are just "I'm in pain, and it stinks, and I would prefer not to be in pain but that's not really possible so harrumph" days. Those are good days for reading and watching TV and being grumpy with good humour.) I do sometimes sit down and melt into a pile of tears--but I try to see what that's about (physical pain can be emotionally draining) and, again, have a bit of compassion and grace with it: get it out, a bit of self-comfort, and then letting it go before it gets mopey and turns into a pity party. Otherwise that energy just builds and builds until something inside explodes; that's just a stinky thing to go through.

Thank you for your beautiful comment! I certainly don't feel wise, or courageous, or brave or faithful most of the time...so hearing that is healing in and of itself.

*Grins.* I would hope Bears of any age can learn new tricks--new tricks are useful! I also hope a Kiwi of any age is up for learning new tricks. :D
jean_doe_27jean_doe_27 on June 28th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday fluff, and thanks for keeping kiwi on her feet..
Very moving and inspring entry, kiwi.
Kiwi Crocus: HP || Sibyl || Hug everyone else.cranky__crocus on July 6th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
Thank you for your comment, JD! ♥
tt: I can't even think straighttwisted_twister on June 28th, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
Wow, how moving.

Thanks for posting this, Kiwi, to remind us how relative everything is, and so we should enjoy what little joys life brings us, because one never knows.

Lots of love, dear! You are inspiration to us all. ♥
Kiwi Crocus: Seasonal || Winter branch.cranky__crocus on July 6th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
Thank you for your lovely comment! (: ♥ I appreciate it.
phyrablaze: happy!mephyrablaze on July 2nd, 2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday to Fluffy!