Health Personal Essays Science

My New Hip Henry

imagesI got a new hip.

It’s my left hip. I have named him Henry because he’s not really part of me and needs to have his own name. I’m not sure why he’s a guy when I am a girl, but it was the first name that came to me, and that’s the end of that. He’s Henry. No one can accuse me of being Lean In sensitive. I’m gender neutral as are all fake hips.

I still can’t get over the fact that I have a new hip. I wonder what they did with my old hip? I forgot to ask. I’m sure they tossed it away without the proper burial that it deserved. Let’s just take a moment to reflect on all that left hip did for me over the years, and to say goodbye. To say nothing of the possibility of a hip fairy who might leave me some money if I’d put it under my pillow.

I love to drive. Love to drive. I drive and drive and drive. I’ve driven cross-country by myself three times. I put the groovy tunes on and sing away. Or I listen to a book on tape, which is no longer accurate because they are on CDs or iPhones, not tape anymore—like my hip, tapes were just shoved out of our lives without a second thought. Anyway, I always drove with my left foot on the dashboard. Yes, I know, I know, but it stretched my leg, and I liked it. My hip did not like it, but it never complained. Not until the last three years, when I could no longer lift it up on the dashboard.

I rode horses for the better part of twenty years. I put that left foot in the stirrup each and every time I mounted, and that hip lifted the rest of me up and over. Then I jumped things and landed bam bam bam on that left hip. But it never complained. Not until the last few years, when I stopped riding because of the pain.

I played tennis. A lot of tennis. Women’s tennis, men’s tennis, and singles. Lots of singles. I was a strong player and well trained, so people wanted my Chrissie Evert kind of play on the court, and I gave it to them. I’m not really sure I liked playing tennis. To be honest, I can’t remember. But I’m right-handed, and my serve had me landing on that left hip and again and again, pivoting on it and laterally stretching it for a shot on the way to the net. Okay, that last part is a lie. I hated going to the net and rarely went. I was a baseline player. And my fabulous left hip never complained. Not once.

When the doctor looked at my x-rays six months ago, he looked around the room and asked if I were using a wheelchair.

“Why would I be using a wheelchair?”

“Because this is bone on bone in a way I rarely see. You must have a high threshold for pain.”

“Not really,” I replied. I thought for a minute and then said, “To be honest, my body and I don’t chat much. We aren’t really all that close, so if something hurts, I don’t really notice.”

He looked sideways at me, and I smiled to show him I wasn’t someone who had to get a psych consult (I love Grey’s Anatomy, don’t you?) before having the surgery. He moved on and so did I.

My friend Paula went with me to the surgery. I was very calm on the way over that morning. She said she knew I was nervous because I was making jokes in the prep area, but really I was doing that because that’s just who I am. I think I’m very funny.

So it’s been six weeks, and I’m no longer limping painfully. Titanium Henry is well ensconced in my hip, with my muscles growing back around it like the un-tended shrubbery around my house. Wow. It really is something, isn’t it?

I was reading a Facebook posting by a friend who was making bone marrow for dinner. I should make that for my hip, I thought, and then realized that the old hip could have used some marrow perhaps. But Henry here is titanium, and who knows what to feed titanium? Oil? Olive oil? Actually, I don’t really know if Henry is titanium but it’s the lightest of the metals, so I’m assuming that’s what they load into women who care about what things weigh.

Henry and I have been together six weeks, and our marriage has had no arguments to date. That’s a good thing right? When he’s a pain, I figure he’s entitled. We are doing fine.

And I guess that’s that. But I wanted to say goodbye to my left hip. This is an Ode to My Old Hip, which wins my personal Academy Award for a lifetime of achievements. Thank you old friend, old part of me.

2 replies on “My New Hip Henry”

Actually, I knew you were nervous that morning when you suggested heading straight to the Vineyard ferry instead of making a right for the hospital. I think you were close to grabbing the steering wheel, in fact.

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