While I thought I had pulled the plug on my total hip replacement series, some people have asked for an update. They are either curious, or taking some sick pleasure in my pain. Either way, I’m happy to oblige.

In week #5 post-surgery, the doc gave me approval to drive. I eased back into work, limping about on a cane and toting a throw pillow to place on seats. Sporting a scruffy beard, I looked like a demented interior designer walking the halls of Ames Scullin O’Haire in search of the perfect place to accessorize with my throw pillow.

The physical therapy regimen continues...

In week #6, I began my out-of-home, in-office physical therapy. Aaron, my therapist who re-built me from my first hip replacement, was ready to begin the process all over again on the left side.

Physical therapy is a lot like torture, except giving vital information will not save you from further pain. But physical therapy and natural muscle healing is all I have to do to get better and be human again. It hurts, but I do as I am told. I’ve heard horror stories of people who went through hip or knee replacement surgery, but didn’t do the necessary therapy and consequently have pain and a store-bought joint because they didn’t heal correctly. No thank you. Bring on the pain, Aaron. He does, he most certainly does.

It hurts, but I don’t resort to popping muscle relaxers. I’ve eased myself off the goof, cold turkey-ish. If I need pain relief, I pop a couple Aleve and the little blue pills take the edge off in their powerful yet street legal over the counter way.

... and I am feeling whole again.

I don’t do sleeping pills either. I now sleep the rest of the exhausted. But, to quote comedy guru Chris Elliott, I “have a bladder like a little girl.” I awake a couple times a night to totter my way to the bathroom, relieve myself and return to bed. I must keep two pillows between my legs to keep the new hip in check and out of harm’s way crossing the evil hip precaution zone (NEVER cross legs in the first three months post-surgery).

My two pillows are like a fluffy chastity belt.

My wife begins to ask me how much longer I am going to keep the beard. “It’s prickly,” she says. “Kissing hurts. Besides, it makes you look older.” When you are getting into the region of old fartdom, looking older is not a good thing.

Ancient bearded me.

I had never grown a beard before I had had my first hip replacement. I liked the change of pace, the lazy maintenance of it. But, she didn’t much care for it back then and it eventually found its way to the barber’s floor. It was time to begin thinking of a similar fate for this beard. It would be gone very soon.

Youthful clean-shaven me.

Week #7, I feel like I have my full energy back and I walk without a cane. Yes, I’m wobbly. Yes, I look like a mad sidewinder. Yes, it hurts somewhat. But I’m walking, dammit–– on two fake hips and a couple weak arthritic knees. It’s not pretty, but it is forward locomotion. I CAN WALK! I’m also climbing stairs with both legs alternately bearing load, like we all learned in step climbing school. No more slowly shuffling up steps on the good leg, descending on the weak one.

I also leave my pillow behind. I jack up the height of my office chair as high as it’ll go, and I’m extra careful to hoist myself out of chairs with both arms so as not to put undue pressure on my new hip. I don’t tempt fate by sitting in low rider chairs or couches. That’s a fool’s play, one that could send you back under the surgeon’s blade for some hip re-setting. That fear make me obey my hip precautions slavishly.

I'm ready for my TSA inspection.

Week #8, I take my hip on a test drive to the airport. I can walk, and now I will fly.

I make my way through my pals at TSA, I set off their security alarms and indicate I have TWO artificial hips. I get my “male assist” to wand me down. I beep on the left hip, I beep on the right. I’m patted down and deemed safe to pass. I gather my belongings and ask a nearby son to do me a solid and tie my shoes. I can’t do impossible tasks like that yet.

Life’s getting better all the time. I’m walking stronger on the road to recovery, eventually without a limp.