Surgery

I act nonchalant and brush off people’s demonstrations of care and concern, but the truth is, I fear hospital like your dog fears the vet.

There’s something lurking there, some force that borders on the supernatural, attended by bright lights and nepenthe and when you return to consciousness, it’s like returning from an alien abduction.

A strange intelligence has been inside your body and you have no recollection of the intrusion aside from the runes of its signature; purple lines, puncture marks and other indications of scarring.

Surgery is, by definition, a significant trauma. It reminds me somewhat of a kind of rehearsal for judgement day; I like to make sure all my bills are paid, get up early, change the sheets and towels and make my own way to the hospital.

It’s not a pressing concern, but part of the discussion around anaesthetic relates to death. The anaesthetic itself induces a faux death but if they fuck it up, it can be death for real. However, that’s not something that happens often, so you take your chances and roll the dice.

In this case, I have a labral tear in my right hip that is exquisitely painful. I’ve had about four significant injuries since my mid-thirties and experienced a moment of reckoning after turning forty that made me realise that I have to get them repaired to maintain quality of life.

I enjoy travelling and moving around, and this hip injury prevents me walking long distances. Further, I can’t kick. Once the hip is repaired, I should be able to kick again.

The last surgery I underwent was a clean out of my right ankle, which was broken during my last kickboxing fight. As a result of that impact, I stripped most of the cartilage out of the front joint surface and broke god knows what, which resulted in the joint being prevented from full flexion by three bone fragments the size of my teeth.

As far as present function is concerned, if I had my time again, I wouldn’t undergo that surgery. Sure, the bones have been taken out and I don’t have any pain in flexion (it used to be agonising), but I could run beforehand.

The labral tear in the hip is a funny one. It happened while deadlifting; the surgeon tells me that the MRI indicates a bone spur on the end of my femur and the stress of that particular lift caused the labrum to tear over the top of it.

He says that not only will he stitch up the tear, but he’ll remove the offending spur that caused the disaster in the first place (it was not, of course, the kamikaze protagonist behind the barbell).     

Well, here’s hoping. It’s expensive, and after the ordeal comes the recovery, which is a sustained ordeal of its own. But then, what constitutes a meaningful life, if not a sequence of ordeals?

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