“In the cellars of the night, when the mind starts moving around old trunks of bad times, the pain of this and the shame of that, the memory of a small boldness is a hand to hold.”
~ John Leonard.
What perfect timing! TOF decides on a topic for today that should be a cake walk for some one who has just lost a parent. But contrary to that popular expectation, what I feel is relief. The pain was endured for three years and ten months to the day. Not physical, but worse, mental. But that is over for now and I better write something about my experience of physical pain.
In December 1980 we were in Delhi and my nephew and niece were visiting along with their parents. My nephew wanted to go for a camel ride but wanted me to accompany him on the camel’s back. I made him sit first and mounted the camel like I would a motorcycle. I felt something give in the right hip joint and almost passed out. I managed to stay on top and took my nephew for the ride. I had never felt such pain in my life prior to that. On consulting my GP I was prescribed ibuprofen and the pain was managed. Five days later, as I was climbing into a car the same thing happened to the left hip joint but since I was already on ibuprofen the pain was less. Both hip joints however froze up and lateral movement of the hips, despite medication was not possible. Since I was only 37 years old then, it was thought to be muscular. It took two more years of agonising pain before the sports medicine department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India’s premier institution for Post Graduate Medical Studies And Research diagnosed it properly as necrosis of the femoral heads. The pain was constant and I had to carry on to the best of my ability with that constant pain. I could not lie down without supporting both the hips with cushions below, nor sit down without cushions to see that the legs did not spread out which would have made the pain greater.
After the diagnosis, I was advised that the only remedy was to go in for total hip replacement for both the hip joints and the surgeon in Delhi was willing to do it for me. I however decided to consult my friend and orthopedist in Mumbai who said that the diagnosis and the proposed course of action was correct but he felt that considering my age, I should not go in for replacement as the prostheses available then were of the stainless steel type with short life spans and revision for active young people was not recommended. He suggested that I continue on ibuprofen for as long as I was able to move around, pain or no pain and get the replacements done when I had to get myself into a wheel chair.
Events however overtook me and my then employers insisted in 1985 that I go through with the replacements as they wanted me to take on wider responsibilities. Fortune favoured me as by then new material for the prostheses and surgical techniques had been developed and my orthopedist friend was willing to perform the surgery.
By this time, we had moved to Mumbai then called Bombay and fortune again favoured me in the form of the hospital where my surgeon performed surgeries was run by a trust set up by very dear friends. In 1985 the left hip joint was replaced and the post surgery relief from pain was overwhelming. When in 1987 the right hip joint was also replaced, I was back to normal. I lived a highly active and productive life for fifteen years more before pain reappeared and in December of 2000 and February of 2001, I underwent surgery for revisions to both the hip joints. The second surgery was a bit of a failure as I collapsed on the table and they quickly had to patch me up and revive me. That hip, the left one started causing pain again by early 2011 and I had to go in for second revision by the end of September 2011. The right one is still holding on though for quite how long is anybody’s guess.
My readers will see that I am no stranger to physical pain. Pre surgery and post surgery pain and eventual freedom from it have all been part of my life and because of that, I am able to manage other minor pains quite well as was proved in December 2010 when I suffered a prolapsed disc in the neck portion of the spine and suffered ulnar palsy as a result. That pain and recovery was also a lesson in managing pain and coming out of it. As I type this, I am still left with only partial use of the fingers of the right hand, but I have adapted. The satisfying aspect of that development is that there is no pain.
Coming to mental pain, three occasions when I had to bear with it were when our son became ill in the late nineties of the last century, my mother died in 1999 and my wife and partner of forty years died in 2009. That I successfully handled those traumatic events and have lived to type this is proof enough for me for my resilience.
I suppose that these preparations were given to me to handle and manage what I went through the last three years and ten months. Proof enough that the resilience is still alive and kicking and I am confident that I will be able to handle any other pain that may come my way in the future too.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where thirteen of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Maria the The Old Fossil. The twelve other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Anu, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!