It beats going out the window.

It beats going out the window.

And so it came to pass– one titanium hip, two units of blood, enough morphine to keep Keith Richards happy for about eleven minutes, and only the phamacy knows how many Percocets later… I was ready to be discharged from Piedmont Hospital.

Piedmont is an excellent hospital, the attention is first rate and the food is entirely edible. I highly recommend it for all your surgical needs; I just don’t want to be admitted back into it any time soon. I was ready and eager to go home.

Just like on TV and in the movies, when it’s time to leave the hospital, you go in a wheelchair. This is probably to caution against patients doing leg-splits, acrobatics or stupid antics, hurting themselves and lawyering-up to sue and make a bundle. No worries for me. I was more than happy to roll-on out.

My hip surgery was Monday November 2, and my discharge date was Friday the 6th. A couple weeks before surgery I had received a letter from my insurance company informing me they were graciously granting me a two-day hospital stay. If it were up to the insurance company, I’m sure they’d have rathered that the procedure be drive-thru with no hospital stay.

But, the surgeon/doc had made the call for how long I stayed, and I guess the insurance company was picking up the tab. For the next six months, a mountain of medical paperwork will be making its way into our mailbox.

Now that I was free, I needed to be very careful getting around. Placing my sore body in and out of a car is like watching a Quaalude-influenced ballet. The car seat must be leaning back and pillows must pile the seat cushion. I must enter the car butt-first, plant butt slowly, pivot bad hip in very slowly, and cautiously pivot good hip in. Buckle up, raise the seat a bit, exhale and go.

I've pimped my ride with irony.

I've pimped my ride with irony.

For getting around, I have a walker. Yes, I own a walker. I bought it, and many other necessary contraptions, with my last hip replacement. This go ’round, at the suggestion of my home physical therapist (Ms. Bonnie), I have pimped my walker with a couple tennis balls.

I am now stealth on wooden floors with my walker– like a Navy Seal in my ability to advance quietly. But when I see the tennis balls, I have ironic flashbacks to the orginal diagnosis of my arthritis. (WAVY LINES, WAVY LINES, SFX: HARP MUSIC)…

Ten years ago, I played a lot of tennis in two different leagues. I had been playing for years, and suddenly my knees hurt. I went to see my G.P doc. He X-rayed the knees and told me I had arthritis. “Should I give up tennis?” I asked.
“No,” he told me in his honey-smooth Southern accent, “not as long as you don’t overdo it.” He wrote me a script for a steady diet of arthritis drugs, and off I went to play more tennis.

A year and a half later, my hips were killing me, so I went to see my doc. He X-rayed them and told me that I now had arthritis in my hips, too. “Should I give up tennis?” I asked again.
“No,” he said, “not as long as you don’t overdo it… and if you do have pain, then maybe we might wanna oughta get you some stronger medications.”

Suddenly it hit me: I was taking medical advice from a guy who says “maybe we might wanna oughta.” So I thought maybe I might wanna oughta get a second opinion.

I took my X-rays to a doc who specializes in arthritis. He looked at them and somberly said, “It’s not a question of if you’ll need hip replacements but when you’ll need hip replacements.”
“Should I give up tennis?” I asked. The doctor looked at me like I was the village idiot on a particularly slow day.

Soon I'll raise a cane.

Soon I'll raise a cane.

“You play tennis? That’s the worst thing you could do with arthritis,” he said sternly. “The human skeletal structure is not designed for lateral motion, and sudden starts and stops on hard surfaces are horrible for your joints. Yes, you should give up tennis immediately.”

No maybe… no might… no wanna… no oughta. NO TENNIS!

I retired immediately.

Many say the game hasn’t been the same since. They say my 34 mph serves and punishing 28 mph volleys were a major attraction for all fans, not to mention my slow advancements to the net so my opponent could slam a ball 126 mph at my noggin. Alas, go I must and go I did.

Now I have tennis balls on my walker. I roll with sweet, sweet irony, baby….