02 November, 2012

Where have I been?

It is now almost five months since I made a submission to this blog. 

The past four months were certainly an interesting and busy time for me. The activities of that period were partly determined by an orthopedic surgeon with whom I met on 11 July regarding the need to have a total replacement of the right hip. The surgeon invited me to suggest a date for the operation. I told him that I was available after the 19 August, the last day of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), and so my operation was set for 21 August. In response to my question of when I could walk a reasonable distance with the aid of one crutch, he said that I could probably do so after a post-operation consultation on 3 October. I was happy with that response for I could see that there was every chance that I could attend the first match of the A League Soccer Season on 5 October. Thus, emerged a four month schedule of activities: a month preparing for the operation with a regime of regular walks and bike riding; attending the MIFF over a period of 18 days; having the operation and undergoing an intensive rehabilitation program for 9 weeks; and gradually drifting back into a normal lifestyle.


Since 2010 Patsy and I have enjoyed attending the MIFF. Each year The Age newspaper produces a Festival Guide which contains details of over 300 films. Over a couple of days Patsy and I studied the guide and then discussed the films we would like to see in the period 2 August – 19 August. By comparison with the previous two years, Patsy and I were very active attendees this year; we agreed on seeing seven films together, and for individual selections  Patsy saw one film and I saw seven films. Of the ten most popular films we saw three – The Hunt (Denmark), Broken (UK) and The Angel’s Share (UK). My biggest disappointment was missing out on seeing the French film Amour, one of the festival’s most popular films.

Total Hip Replacement

Unlike the majority of candidates for a total hip replacement, I had not experienced pain. An x-ray revealed that my right hip was arthritic; a distinct limp and slight stoop, my physical profile for the past 2-3 years, prompted me to consult an orthopedic surgeon. Having settled a date for the operation, I realized that it was important for me to physically prepare for this event. After 3 weeks of walking and cycling I started to experience some  pain and mild discomfort in the hip joint while in bed; a confirmation of the need for an operation. It is interesting to note that my brother-in-law and a good friend also had no significant hip pain prior to their operations.

My entry to the hospital was the beginning of a somewhat solitary lifestyle which was to last for 10 weeks. I advised family and friends that I did not expect them to visit me in hospital or at the rehabilitation centre where I was to be in residence for a week. My motivation for this decision was that my days would be busy as I participated in a rehabilitation program, and that I did not want to inconvenience them as they are all busy people. For practical purposes, I was happy for Patsy to visit on one occasion at the hospital and the rehabilitation centre. I was also pleased to welcome a couple of friends who visited me while I was at the rehabilitation centre.

At the hospital, soon after the operation, I exercised each day and upon arrival at the rehabilitation centre I commenced a seven day intensive exercise program. I attended the rehabilitation centre twice a week as an out-patient; exercised at home twice a day; and progressively increased the length of my walks. To this pattern was added daily rest and cat-naps. Towards the end of rehabilitation, three weeks of hydrotherapy sessions stimulated recovery, but also led to a feeling of lethargy which in turn resulted in some sound sleeping. I “graduated” from the rehabilitation centre on 31 October. For the following two weeks, the physiotherapist suggested that I continue to exercise and walk, and that I occasionally visit a swimming pool to do the hydrotherapy exercises.

Temporary Change in Lifestyle

The combined action of being hospitalized and attending regular sessions of physiotherapy tended to divorce me from the outside world. Subsequently, I found the need to adopt a lifestyle which was a modified form of solitude for I was quickly drawn into an environment which was dominated more by nurses and physiotherapists than family and friends. My full attention was given to responding to the demanding process of rehabilitation.

Since the 1980s, when I walked for 8 years as a solitary bushwalker, I have come to appreciate the need from time to time to step back from the routine of life in order to be spiritually refreshed by periods of solitude. Thus, during the rehabilitation period, I readily embraced this temporary change in lifestyle. I enjoyed reading, working on my computer and six weeks after the operation I was able to gradually return to some semblance of a normal lifestyle as I could get around on one crutch: I watched some DVDs and TV; read five books and saw 2 films; attended two soccer matches; shared meals with the family on several occasions; For the first two weeks at home I enjoyed the company of Jenny, my sister-in-law, who was also convalescing at our home after an operation. “Matron” Patsy was kept busy during this period as she cared for her two patients. I took advantage of Jenny’s knowledge about Australian native plants to seek advice about maintaining my garden. We both shared the frustration at not being able to attack the weeds which had invaded the garden.

Just after I “graduated” from physiotherapy, I enjoyed lunch with a friend. The meal was symbolic for it indicated that I was about to quit the temporary change to my lifestyle and to get out and about. My diary reveals that on Saturday Evening 10 November Patsy and I are going to the refurbished Hamer Theatre to be entertained by an American orchestra and associated entertainers that revisit the Glenn Miller era (1939-1943), and that from the 12-17 November we will have a short holiday at Mirboo North.

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