November 24. The day loomed near.
I placed it in my calendar as an event titled “Big step towards getting better.”
I worked really hard in PT in those weeks leading up to it. I did my exercises and stretches. I swam (safe for the hip and good cardio). At first it was weird to work hard like that, it would have been easy to be lazy – but I realized that the more I worked before surgery the stronger I would be (and the less my muscles would atrophy) after.
It was the Monday before Thanksgiving, the day I was set to go under the knife. What a strange feeling it was waking up that morning and saying to myself “on the agenda for the day: surgery.”
We drove into Philly (Mom, Dad, and Kate) and walked through the doors of CHOP yet again. This time, straight to the surgery center. We had to wait for a few hours for me to even get in pre-op (talk about time in slow motion).
Finally I was called back. Put on the gown. Laid in a hospital bed with my feet hanging off the end. Hospital socks, yes. Dr. Sankar came in with a purple sharpie and marked the spot oh my left hip. “X marks the spot!”
My parents held me tight and prayed. Then they wheeled me away. Name, birthdate, repeat.
Back through winding hallways, into a room so bright full of people and equipment. Mask over my face, I don’t remember if they told me to count, everything spinning…spinning…
During my surgery (which was about 4 hours long), Mom, Dad, and Kate faithfully sat in the waiting room, watching the “scoreboard” that listed names in surgery. I think this day was probably worse for them than it was for me. I was the one with the meds and the anesthesia. They were the ones who sat and waited.
That day, the tear in my left hip labrum was repaired. I also received a femoral head osteoplasty (shaving of the bone) to help the ball and socket joint fit together better.
I remember being cold. Really cold. The next thing I remember is being rolled into a hospital room and situated in the bed. I was pretty out of it. The surgery went well, they told me. There was a lot to take care of, they said. The nurse showed me where the pain pump was and said to push it whenever I wanted to.
I have 2 distinct memories from those first hours after surgery:
1. There was a knock at the door…and a golden retriever stuck his nose in! A man was with him, leading him around the hospital halls to visit patients. He walked right over to me and put his head on my bed. What a precious moment.
2. I (unsuccessfully) tried to eat blueberry pancakes. I was so worn out from the meds that I literally would fall asleep as I was about to put the fork in my mouth. (Side note: CHOP has really good food.)
This was the time when I really felt the support of my friends and family. I turned my phone on, and it was flooded with messages – from my closest friends to people I barely know, all expressing kindness and sharing prayers. Gran and Grandad drove to see me, holding balloons. That night, in the quiet, my mom slept on a bed along the window.
This is what a support system is like. Prayers and love and the gift of presence and words that speak truth. This is support and love. And I felt it like a blanket of comfort, like the fur of a golden retriever, like the sweetness of a blueberry pancake.