POP. ( Post Operative Papa )

Welcome to another thrilling instalment of Martin’s Arthritis diary, it’s now one month and four days since my hip replacement and I am delighted to report that I am now able to poop sitting down for the first time in a year. 

Now I am sorry for this blatant over-sharing, but the fact is I am delighted – as I have been unable to bend at the knees and sit on the throne for so long, I never realised how far down a toilet seat is before. It wasn’t just a case of the bending down, it was the getting back up again afterwards, I just couldn’t manage it and there was no way on Gods green earth that I was going to ask someone to help me get up and down from the bog. So I did my business standing up, perched on two elbow crutches & that is no mean feat I can tell you. Anyway that is all behind me now.

It’s amazing how much a person takes for granted in everyday life that can literally become a huge pain in the ass ( or knee or ankle or any other area with bones & dodgy connective tissue ) when you’ve rheumatoid arthritis.

After the op I started walking each day, tentative steps at first, like a toddler, only a very grumpy grizzly one, first off a circuit of my local park, just six hundred metres or so, but it felt like forever, limping around like an old fart, irritated if a cyclist should come the other way, woe betide a young person crossing my path and not giving me right of way. Week two and I manage two circuits each day, by week three I am getting bored with the little park and decide to move on to a bigger park.

This means crossing  a main road, quite an adventure really after months being house bound, then into the big park, there’s a walking circuit twice the size of the other one, an exercise area, gardens, woods, and sports pitches. 

The leaves are falling and autumn is in full swing and this park is busy with people, people running, walking, exercising. Now having spent a lot of the last year in the house seeing people, real people is quite a novelty, so I think I probably stare a bit more than I should. I also know I am getting a little better, as I notice myself checking out the ladies, if only on a theoretical basis. 

As I am in London and this is not one of the most salubrious parts of the City there are a few dodgy looking characters around the park each day. I walk with a pair of headphones on and listen to music on my iphone, this I find makes it all quite enjoyable. Though it occurs to me that it’s quite possible that some dodgy sod might try to mug me. So, Mr.Street as I am I keep my eyes peeled and my wits about me. On one occasion a shifty looking chap is walking towards me along the path, he looks super dodgy. I find myself wondering what I would do if he tried something, I play over the scenario where I beat him over the head with my crutch. Take that you Ruffian. In my imagination I stand over him a crumpled heap on the floor, cowering beneath me.

He walks past me, I look back, yep he is definitely not kosher. 

Keep on walking fella or you’ll feel the weight of my N.H.S crutch.

A circuit of the new park is a kilometre, there are other areas to explore as well, each day I do a circuit, then maybe explore a little further, I walk off track and into a wooded area, at which point I am accosted by a bunch of juveniles, in this case not human but squirrels. From nowhere I am suddenly surrounded by eight or ten of the little fuckers. One particularly forward little rodent bars my path and just stands there on his hind legs and holds out his paws in a gimme gimme kind of way. I have nothing for the squirrels, but the forward one mistakes me putting my hand in my pocket as food coming and proceeds to jump up on my trouser leg, at this point I scream in surprise and he bolts for it, I wave my stick around like a madman and shout, the squirrels disperse to the undergrowth and luckily no humans are about, otherwise I think it would have been quite possible for men in white coats to have been called to whisk me off to a secure facility. 

Though I have undeniably been making progress it still feels slow and insufficient. I want to achieve more, the thing holding me back is my body, in essence myself. I am trying to get myself motivated, it’s a battle because of the seemingly endless tug between pain & drowsiness, both sap my energy and ability to get very much done.

The pain killers I take for the R.A. – currently cocodamol an opiate derivative, I keep the dosage low but too little and I am in pain, then the side effects of the pills lead to drowsiness and even if my head makes plans sometimes my body just ain’t up to making them happen, this leads to frustration and the whole lot together piss me off.

I have mentioned it before, but in case you’ve not read my meandering scribble I’ve been taken in by my Son, who has been a bloody star it has to be said, having a sick parent foisted on you when you’ve your own stuff to get on with is not ideal. 

My chance to give him a little bit of payback has been him contracting Covid & having to isolate for ten days. 

This has meant that I’ve cooked for him each day, brought food, and generally catered for him as best as I can. This has been good for me, the routines, the cooking, the climbing up and down stairs with trays of food, the thought of actually having some use has been psychologically beneficial, the exercise I certainly needed.

Despite not being in the best of health quite remarkably after ten days in relative close proximity to Covid I haven’t contracted it, I hope this continues to be the case, we shall see.

So to recap, I’m walking regularly, ok, its still a bit of a hobbling walk, I use a stick, but its progress. 

I’ve a Yoga mat on the floor of my bedroom which I’ve not used since I placed it down there more than a year ago. Yesterday I decided to use it, another impossible before now was being able to sit down on the floor – now granted sitting on the floor is not a real life enhancing capability, but to do any decent stretches or rehab on myself it really is a basic. Well yesterday I managed to sit on my arse, and then I managed a few stretches, a few twists and got the dumbbells out. 

These dumbbells weigh the astonishing amount of a whole kilo each. 

( I have a 5kg set of dumbbells but the last time I tried to use ‘em I couldn’t manage it & dropped one on my bloody foot ).

Twenty minutes on the mat was enough, then I realised that getting down on the mat was one thing, I hadn’t given any thought as to how to get up again.

What a dipstick.

It took me five minutes of wriggling, something to lean on and rather a lot of old man noises before I managed to get to my feet. This to, though painfully slow is some kind of progress.

Another thing to address is sleeping, my sleep pattern is truly awful, I was always the sort of person that would sleep through the night, it would have taken a bomb to wake me once my head hit the pillow, but now I sleep maybe two hours at a time, then wake, unable to go back to sleep I spend much of the night time with the BBC World Service & despite the bloody great stuff on there to be honest I would sell my soul for a good nights sleep. Though as I already take plenty of pills I am not going to add sleeping pills to the mix. 

I have once again taken to listening to Buddhist chants on my headphones in bed, maybe this will do the trick and bring me sleepy nights. I’ve started off with a three hour track of Om mane padme om. Whilst it hasn’t got me to sleep I figure that a bit of Buddhist malarkey chills me out, so that’s fine.

Five weeks after my op I can say I am moving, getting stuff done and for the first time in a long time feeling more capable, it is a beginning, there’s a long way to go & I have rather a lot to do. I’ve more operations to come, rheumatology appointments in the pipeline, other medical stuff, financial stuff, dental stuff & a host of things to sort.

If I’m honest I’m not certain that I can really achieve as much as I’d like to, but what the hell, it’s about trying and if it turns to a shit show then at least I’ve given it a shot, that’s the important thing.

Your mission Mr.B. should you choose to accept it is to defeat R.A. & overcome your challenges. Should you fail in your endeavours then you will have nobody to blame but yourself. This message will self destruct in five seconds.

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