Bionic Woman

This Monday I go into the hospital for my fourth implant. I have already had a right hip, left shoulder, and left knee done. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last replacement. But, I do have two more joints left and “you never know”, as my mother would say.

When I mention the above to casual strangers they label me as “bionic”! I suppose that’s one way of looking at it, but I don’t particularly feel bionic. Yes, when the surgeries have good outcomes, you are better off, and to a degree I am. However, more often than not, I feel like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. I also wonder why it never dawned on me that the excessive aerobic exercise, cycling, racquetball and weight-lifting would eventually do me in?

Moderation has never been one of my strong suits. If I like something, I become completely invested in it. I taught exercise and aerobics until one day I thought if I saw one more person do a leg lift, I’d scream. Then I went on to weight-lifting. I wasn’t content with just doing weights to condition my body. Oh, no, I had to power lift. After all why shouldn’t a five foot woman try to outdo the guys in the gym who looked like buffed Gorillas? Oh, I forgot to mention , I started dancing lessons when I was four. Needless to say, I have been a movement machine for years and my body finally said, enough already time to chill.

I had signals along the way, lots of clicking in the knees going down stairs, my shoulder would ache for days at a time and my hip started to reduce my ability to walk properly. But did that stop Ms. Tarzan? No way! I kept going like the Energizer Rabbit because it’s my nature to never give up.

Well, I finally gave up when I could no longer go even a few steps without excruciating pain. Voila, I got a hip implant. I recovered quickly and was fine for several years, and then the shoulder and knees started sounding more and more like a creaking door in a bad horror movie because I went back to my old habits.

Thank God, for modern medicine and great Orthopedic Doctors. They have certainly made a lot of people able to function better and I am grateful to the ones I chose. If it’s one thing I’ve learned from becoming “bionic”, is that I can engage in exercise and not become obsessed. I no longer have a need to prove how much I can do or how.

Process of Healing

On Dec. 4 I had my left knee replaced. It is my third implant which follows a hip implant six years ago and a shoulder replacement last February. I will be having my right knee replaced next May, making me part of the new improved bionic human.

I am grateful that orthopedics has come this far, but I wish I could have been part of a more futuristic procedure which I’m sure will rely totally on stem cell regeneration. Won’t it be great when they can simply regenerate cartilage and bone without cutting, sawing and suturing?

Healing from surgery or any illness does give you a lot of space for reflection. This can be good and bad. The bad side for me comes from my inner critics that scold me for getting into this predicament in the first place. “Why did you have to be so excessive? You could have been more moderate and then this wouldn’t have happened!”, or “ How come this happened to you? Other people go full steam ahead and don’t have to have joint replacements!”F

Unfortunately when I like something, I really LIKE IT! I danced most of my life and taught aerobics for over 20 years. Part of the excessivity was based on the fact that I was a single parent and needed the money. However when you’re young and nubile you cannot project yourself into the place where the very thing you love will end up hurting you.

The information on overusing joints and its negative outcomes was certainly not available then. I use the aforementioned argument with inner critics often and it seems to quiet their voices. However, the “Why did this happen to me?” scenario is harder to get rid of.

I have a huge attachment to injustice and my situation seems riddled with it. I was, after all, trying to earn a living so that I could pay the mortgage, feed the kids and continue to have heat and electricity. But all of those responses mean nothing, a compromised joint doesn’t care, and the reasons why did not get me canonized. It is what it is! Which is a metaphor I find both appealing and repugnant.

So what have I learned from my surgical journeys? First and foremost, don’t take your body for granted. It is an incredible vessel and it usually serves us well. We need to reciprocate and give it the care it needs. You can rest assured that I am definitely going to use common sense when it comes to my exercise routines unless of course I will be able to learn the Argentinean Tango, then all resolve may go down the ballroom drain!