I put it down to my sporting youth. One knee b*gg*r*d when playing seven a side rugby at school, the other while playing mixed volleyball in a NALGO organised competition, Sports and Social Secretary being the only union office I ever held, which probably says something.
So I do have “previous”. I am so confident that the artificial parts in my left knee will trigger the metal detector at Gatwick that I wouldn’t be prepared to board the plane if they didn’t. Regular readers of this blog will know that it recently spent its time in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, triggering nine separate metal detectors at nine sporting events. And each time that ominous buzzing noise was followed immediately by the approach of military personnel (male) donning blue Marigolds which had me wondering whether I was facing an intimate frisk down or an examination for an enlarged prostate.
An invitation it would be hard to refuse…
Well, having prevaricated as long as practical, I’m now committed to hip replacement surgery in mid September. Personally, I incline to the view that there may have been some basic design flaw in this blog’s joints – though Mrs. Blog tells me the flaws run much deeper than that.
I suppose this is not the worst affliction. A hip, I can live with, though it doesn’t really shout “hunk” or “cute”, does it?
Back in school playground days I rather envied the kids that turned up with an arm in a sling. That’s the kind of injury you want, not a kidney stone. There is absolutely nothing sexy or heroic about a men’s urological ward – trust me on this. To be fair, there is something rather endearing about watching a group of blokes shuffling along the “waterworks” ward towards the TV room to watch the football, each pushing his “stand” with its own “Gucci handbag”, as the nursing staff insist on calling them. At least, when the game reached half time, we were possibly the only spectators who didn’t need to get up from our seats and head for the Gents.
When I was having my operation a few years ago, it was due to take place in the afternoon just before an England versus Portugal European Nations Cup quarter final that was being televised. (I measure out my life, not in coffee spoons, but in football seasons.) Remaining optimistic that, after surgery, I would still be in the land of the living (or, at least, Sussex), I estimated that I was likely to return from the theatre and “come round” just in time for the big match, and fearing that I might not be at my sharpest then, I carefully arranged the TV at the correct angle on its swivelly bracket thing over my bed before being trollied away to my fate, and pre-ordered the game over the hospital phone system. Nifty, eh?
Come the evening, back in the ward, my eyes gradually opened and scanned the locality. Even through my post-op haze I could tell all was not right. I’d been brought back to another part of the ward and never did get to see the match. I hope whoever was in “my” bed enjoyed the entertainment I’d bought for him. I understand that we lost on penalties after extra time, which I suppose I could have guessed. That was 2004 but the emotional scars haven’t healed.
I should add that the operation itself was most memorable for the fact that, being only sedated, rather than “under a general”, I was awake for a fair part of it and could not only hear and feel the hammering and sawing of my bones beyond the low screen, but smell it. More information than you need?
I have asked the surgeon about my prognosis this time round and he has assured me that, assuming a full recovery from my hip operation, he could see no reason why I should not be able to carry out a full waltz spin turn on the dance floor. Which will no doubt come as a surprise to Alex, our instructor at East Sussex Dance, who is fully aware that we haven’t managed one yet in two months of trying.
Mrs. Blog does not intend to let my temporary demise interfere with her own terpsichorean aspirations. She is not over keen, as I understand it, to turn up without me for our normal ballroom lessons, on the basis that she has enough difficulty grappling with me without taking on board another male partner, and that she has no intention whatsoever of pretending to be a man for the evening. On the other hand, I hear ominous rumours of her showing interest in some dance related fitness classes that Alex also runs, called “Fit Steps” and – I very much hope I have this wrong – ballet.
Ballet is so bracing…
Mrs. Blog has suggested that, armed with a post-op walking stick, I might wish to take up Morris Dancing – but presumably only after I have graduated from using the Zimmer, or the whole bell and hanky thing could get unbelievably messy. For my part, I do wonder if, for the duration of any protracted rehab process, we might simply reverse our dance roles and Mrs. B could give thought to how she might best lift me above her head for our best jive moves.
So, here we are, about two weeks to go before I’m admitted and Mrs. Blog has gone into action. My mother was always keen that we children should wear clean underwear every day “in case you’re hit by a bus on the way to school” – which rather missed the point that any previously clean pants were unlikely to remain in that condition in the face of an approaching Routemaster. Mrs. B clearly lives by similar principles and is not prepared to have me admitted to the care of the NHS (we don’t aspire to anything “private”) without a suitable new outfit for the ward – at least not while this furnishes her with a splendid opportunity for an evening trawl through the local branch of M&S.
Mrs. Blog has brought home a range of “hospital ready” dressing gowns for me to try on
I have so far resisted anything that might say “Noel Coward”, but I admit something is needed if I am to avoid wandering the mixed ward wearing one of those hospital “gowns” that, for some unaccountable reason, hang open at the back. Anything more likely to reduce one’s sense of dignity, it is hard to bring to mind. Though it could, I suppose, divert attention from the black, knee-length “compressive tights”, which I understand I shall be obliged to wear for a month. Ho hum.
I shall start my own packing list.
Number 1: Muffles wax earplugs, from Boots. These are indispensible if you don’t want to lie awake through the night listening to other people snoring (one’s own snoring is of course not the problem) or the conversation of nurses, who sometimes seem unaware at night time that there may be poorly people nearby wanting to sleep.
Number 2: More Muffles
Well, it’s a start…