CUMBERLAND – For the past month I have been remanded to my home, prohibited from driving a car or pedaling a bike, doing occasionally painful exercises three times a day, and trying to keep watch on three children, a dog-hating cat and a feline-despising pooch. It’s like being under house arrest, minus the inconvenience of any electronic monitoring devices.
On balance, replacing an increasingly bothersome and painful arthritic hip with a titanium one is a good thing.
There are very few long-term disadvantages to having such a procedure done; the only tangible nuisance is the recipient’s tendency to set off metal detectors, assuming he or she ever visits an airport with the intention of boarding a plane again.
But there are plenty of short-term benefits to such a situation.
I’ve become acquainted with a wealth of health care professionals, all of whom are patient, great at their jobs and terrific people to boot.
My selfless wife willingly chauffeurs me wherever I need to go, and when she’s unavailable, my mother-in-law does the driving, albeit at a somewhat lower rate of speed.
My children have been unusually responsive to virtually all of their father’s requests, even the ones they formerly argued about or pretended not to hear.
My employers and colleagues have bent over backward to accommodate my recovery; their consistent message to me has been to take care of getting better first and worry about work later.
I’ve received a ton of email, phone calls and even actual written correspondence (the kind that shows up in the mailbox!) from family and friends.
Neighbors have gone out of their way to not only look in on me, but to take care of any chores I customarily perform but am currently prohibited from doing.
Total strangers bent on doing a good deed fall all over one another trying to open doors and/or get things for me, and it pleases me to provide the opportunity for them to perform such random kindnesses.
On those few occasions when I am out in public, everyone gives me and my cane a wide berth, whenever and wherever we’re walking. That cane is quite a useful prop, both literally and figuratively. The attention we attract is flattering, and all of the sympathetic and/or empathetic looks we draw are clearly well-intended.
Naturally, there are some inconveniences connected with getting a creaky hip replaced.
The first week after my surgery was particularly unpleasant; the daytime temperatures hovered around 90 degrees for several days, with matching humidity.
Sitting through five months of winter annually should exempt year-round Maine residents from having to endure the sort of climatic conditions more associated with summer in coastal South Carolina, not to mention having to do so without the benefit of air conditioning.
Another irritant: the telephone. It rings at least a dozen times each weekday, and 10 of those 12 calls originate from mysterious area codes, or show up on the phone’s screen as “Unknown Caller.”
While I am not the world’s most enthusiastic embracer of modern technology, I believe there is a special place in whatever form of afterlife one believes in that’s reserved for the person(s) who invented Caller ID.
But overall it seems pretty petty to complain about such comparatively small annoyances. My current physically compromised status is temporary; there are plenty of people with permanent challenges far more daunting than mine.
Had I been born 30 years earlier and subsequently been saddled with an arthritic hip, my only options would have been to gulp aspirin tablets and limp for the remainder of my days.
But thanks to my parents creating me when they did, my goal of being back refereeing youth soccer games a month or so from now is probably a realistic one.
And perhaps most importantly: The health insurance plan my employer pays a significant portion of will absorb the lion’s share of the frighteningly high expenses that joint replacement surgery commands.
With each passing day my gait improves, my strength increases, my outlook brightens and I get 24 hours closer to recovering most if not all of the abilities I had unwittingly taken for granted for the previous five-plus decades of my life.
This summer’s “time out” has reminded me that Thanksgiving isn’t just the fourth Thursday in November; it’s every day.
Andy Young is a resident of Cumberland.