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. (: