What a pain in the butt! It started while G.W. Bush was President. My doctor just said it was arthritis in the hip. He kept saying that during each of my physicals, all throughout the Obama administration. Exercise is good; too much is bad. I tried physical therapy – the massages and stretches felt good, and I promised myself I would keep pushing it until my hip became normal again. Yoga once each week – I was proud that by gritting my teeth, holding the pose, and pushing my body just a little more, I could maintain an acceptable limitation on my range of motion. Some days, I needed help getting a sock on, but most days were uneventful – I could look the other way, ignore the stuff going on inside, absent-mindedly massaging the most tender spots. I would keep my hip in check, not let it interfere with more important things, deal with any flare-ups as they happened, and see my hip through for the next 40 years.
My new doctor was more concerned about my butt than I was. She referred me to a top orthopedist who x-rayed it for the first time, briefly moved my leg in mysterious ways, and declared that I was a prime candidate for hip replacement. He chastised me a bit, suggesting that I was acting pretty tough in enduring the pain all these years. He told me I was feeling pain, instead of me telling him. In fact, I had dismissed the pain, saying that on very rare occasions did I take anything to alleviate it. “Think about it.”
I left his office stunned. I had never seriously thought about hip replacement. I had intended to heal my pain largely by ignoring it, and just keeping the joint limber. I felt betrayed, having expected a regimen of more precise physical therapy to aid in my healing.
Over the next few days leading up to Tuesday’s election, I paid more attention to my hip. I realized that it was, indeed, bothering me more than I had let on; that there was a lot more stuff going on under the surface than I had realized. I began to realize that I was not healing anything with my self-therapy – that the healing could not really begin until after I made the wound deeper, excised the bad, and replaced it with something better. Only after surgery could the healing begin.
Tuesday’s results exposed a lot of stuff going on under the surface – stuff we promised ourselves on every Martin Luther King Day was getting better; stuff we thought could be fixed by exposing race-based police brutality through cell phone documentation; anti-Muslim irrationality that might be cured through persistent argument, and reminders that the percentage of Muslims who are medical caregivers is substantially higher than the percentage of Christians who are medical caregivers; stuff that electing Obama would prove was improving; stuff that electing Clinton would show we were on the right path to recovery. Education, enlightenment, legislation, should all be working toward healing our nation of the dirty, vulgar, dehumanizing irrational hatred a dwindling (we thought) minority harbors against others based on gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, or physical disability. But we were trying to heal our nation too soon; we were trying to leave the recovery room before entering the operating room.
Donald Trump’s campaign of vitriol was not the problem; it was the painful flare-up – the symptomatic manifestation of some really bad stuff going on much deeper within our public flesh, slowly deteriorating an important part of our national anatomy. Tuesday’s election revealed the x-ray, and we saw that the problem was far worse than we wanted to admit.
Will my surgeon take the anterior or posterior approach? Does he practice the newer method using a smaller incision? Which materials will he use for the new hip joint? How should I best prepare for the recovery, so that my new hip can perform as it should? My doctor said there was no rush. I could take my time. I can postpone it for 30 years if I wish, provided my general health is good enough to tolerate the surgery, but I now know that wishful thinking, yoga and massage won’t make it better. One consistent piece of advice I get from friends is that I will wonder why I never did it sooner. The reason I did not was that I was trying to heal the symptoms whenever ignoring them failed. By heeding them, instead, I can make a rational choice of dealing with the underlying problem. Only then can the healing begin.
That big ugly November 8, 2016 x-ray needs to be studied every day, until we finally get the courage to cut deep enough to really form a more perfect union.