"Hip Hip Hooray"
This story was written in March 1994 and was a reasonably easy story to write and one that also
formed part of my healing journey

Synchronistic and serendipitous events have occurred in my life at different times, always unexpectedly, and always I've greeted these events with amazement and surprise, which is an interesting response given the number of times I have had these `out of the ordinary' experiences. One would imagine that I would have developed a more blase attitude to their occurrence, but that is not so at this time.

An example of one such experience happened back in January 1989 in Hobart. I was in my local newsagent, browsing, when I picked up the `Gemini Horoscope Booklet for 1989', you know the type, a smallish book that has daily, monthly as well as yearly forecasts for a particular star sign. I flipped to the daily forecast for February 1st, which was a Tuesday. Imagine my incredulity when I read this particular day's forecast .......which began with `HIP HIP HOORAY...'

Now I know you must be thinking "what's so special or synchronistic about that".... ..... and the answer to your query is that on Tuesday 1st February 1989 I had a very important appointment, probably one of the most important and scariest appointments I've had in my entire life to date. It was the day I was booked to go to the operating theatre to have both my hips replaced. In medical terms this surgery is called Bilateral Total Hip Replacements.

`HIP, HIP HOORAY ALRIGHT!' I was 39 years old at the time.

The four weeks and five day in hospital; four weeks of which was spent lying flat on my back, not being allowed to sit up, even partially, was at times horrendous and does not bear dwelling on. I was left feeling profoundly sorry for all those people, who, because of medical problems, have to spend much longer, if not all their lives in such a dependent situation. The loss of dignity and independence is devastating.

Thankfully this surgery was successful and when I began walking with the aid of elbow sticks, it was wonderful to find that this was pain free.
To be free of pain is like a miracle.

For some of you who are reading this you will know when I talk about the deep exhaustion one experiences when having to live with pain. This exhaustion is initially physical and as time progresses it becomes an intense emotional and spiritual exhaustion. So exhausting that eventually it effects one to the depth of `one's being'. I remember how I used to have `grit my teeth' and `to take a deep breath' whenever I stood up from sitting; when walking; when getting in and out of the car; when, whilst driving having to lift my left leg (with my hand) on and off the clutch pedal; and in many other aspects of my life.

It is with intense emotion that I recall thinking prior to my surgery that if anything went wrong during the operation, I would eagerly and willingly `go down that tunnel towards the light'. Life had seemed so tough that I had momentarily lost the `will to live'. I felt ashamed and frightened to be thinking like this, so ashamed that initially I could not share my fears with anyone. This seemed to give more power to these fears. There is a part of me that believes that we `create our own future' and consequently my anxiety was increased a hundredfold. I also felt dreadfully guilty about harbouring these thoughts - to think that I might choose death over life and leave my dear sweet ten year old son Eamon without `his mum'.

I am sharing this with you because of the insights I have gained from the experience. These fears were frighteningly real and it was only when I overcame my shame and embarrassment and discussed them with my Mother and my dear friend Vicki, that I was able `to release the hold' that they had on me. I immediately felt confident that I would not die. Needless to say this was an important turning point in my life. This experience validated the adage `a problem shared is a problem halved'

I'll share one more thing with you from that time and that is that I asked for my hips to be kept and given to me after the operation. I'm sure the surgeon and the nursing staff thought I was crazy, but as a nurse myself, I had been accustomed to patients receiving their gallstones and or their appendix in little jars post-operatively, so I thought to myself "why not my hips".

I was presented with a round plastic takeaway container and sitting in this, in formalin, were two roundish balls, each with a small stump attached. These stumps of bone had been sawn off from the top of my femurs. The ball sections looked like overgrown dim sims, their surface rough and pitted, instead of smooth and shiny. This may seem macabre, but it was important for me, to be able to see these damaged parts of my body, important, in order to come to terms with why I had had the pain and why it was necessary to have my hips replaced with shiny new ceramic prostheses.

I kept them in an old Nescafe jar at home in the hall cupboard for nearly eighteen months. Eventually I buried them beneath a rose bush named `Double Delight'.

Last month was the fifth anniversary of `my new hips'. I continue to feel grateful and to experience a sense of joy and relief at the new lease of life resulting from this operation. I do not have pain; I no longer take medication; I move well compared to before; my walking continues to improve and I occasionally (although somewhat tentatively) ride my bicycle.

I thank my Orthopaedic Surgeon for a `job well done' and I thank God that I have been given this opportunity to come alive again, physically, emotionally and spiritually and I say with joy, gratitude and in celebration -


Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Ellie Large
March 1994 ©

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