This weeks Weekly Challenge from the Daily Prompt editors at WordPress.com is to “wrap up” the year.
Having a look back at 2012 for me is a mixed blessing. This year has had a few happy moments but includes a lot of pain.
The two things that leap immediately to mind are happy; Sarah’s wedding and the arrival of Macduff.
Sarah is the first of my brother’s children to marry, his eldest. Sarah is an amazing young woman who has carved out a career for herself as a science journalist after gaining a degree from Johns Hopkins and then a Masters in Science Journalism from UC Santa Cruz (go Banana Slugs!).
Sarah fell in love with an Army doctor, well, one in training, and so found herself moving to Hawaii when he was posted there to finish his medical training. They both love each other deeply so do not regret the move but I know both Brian and Sarah miss their family some. At the same time they both enjoy an outdoor life and Hawaii has much to offer them, they are constantly going hiking or off to one of the other islands for a weekend.
Their wedding was a wonderful, joyful and romantic day. The bride looked breathtakingly beautiful in her white gown and the groom looked handsome (and, as he should, just a little bemused, confused and shocked) in his Army uniform. Sarah’s sister Paige stood by her side and looked almost as beautiful.
The day will live in my memory for a long time. Thank you to Sarah and Brian for a wonderful day and to my brother for making it possible for Jessica and I to get there.
Then there is the arrival in my life of Macduff. I’m a cat person and I’m always happier when there is a cat in the house. At the same time I’ve had two cats die under the wheels of a car and I’m reluctant to go through that again. You can’t really keep a cat inside the house all the time, they do want to spend some time exploring the real world, but as well as the danger they pose to small animals and birds they themselves can find the world a dangerous place.
I overcame my reluctance and adopted a handsome young man, a long haired ginger tabby I named “Macduff”. Of the four cats I’ve owned he is the third to gain a name from Shakespeare, indeed the second to gain a name from the Scottish play. It seemed obvious, a redhead would be Scottish.
It’s strange the way having a cat in the house lifts my mood. A cat doesn’t really fuss over you the way a dog does. They are just there, some of each day is spent sitting next to you, in your lap or at the end of the bed. It’s also funny the way that as you move from room to room during the day a cat will follow you, not immediately but a while after you go from, for example, the lounge to the study you’ll notice after a short while that the cat that was sleeping in the lounge is now sleeping in the study.
So little Macduff became a part of my life. We’ve learnt each other’s small foibles and grown to appreciate each other. He accepts that when I’m typing on the laptop I’d like some time to finish before he climbs into my lap and I’ve learnt that when a head is lent onto my lap while I’m typing I only have a few minutes to finish my thought before an entire cat is sitting on the computer.
The third big event. I guess I’d have to put a total hip replacement in the number three spot.
It was a total surprise, at 53 you don’t think about hip replacements. However my chronic asthma means I have over my life taken a lot of prednisone, a steroid that has over the long term some nasty side-effects.
The first side-effect hit me more than ten years ago when I started getting cataracts. I’ve since had those removed in two easy operations.
The second major side-effect you can get is osteoporosis and allied diseases. In my case that was avascular necrosis (AVN) of the head of my left femur, in other words a broken hip.
I was a lot luckier than some, quite a lot of the people who get a total hip replacement get on because of arthritis or after a break in a joint weakened by arthritis. Arthritis is a slow disease and people suffer through a long time with pain and reduced movement before it is thought useful to replace their hip.
AVN is quite fast, I went from the first pain to a hip replacement in four months. I spent some time walking with crutches but even at the last I could walk around the house without them. Indeed I was starting to adjust to walking with the broken hip and the pain was my only real problem, though I couldn’t walk as far as previously it was possible.
The operation was quite strange in it’s own way. Most hip replacement’s these days are done without general anaesthetic. I was given an epidural, an injection into my spinal column, that numbed my body below the waist and a strong local anaesthetic into my hip. Then some drugs that sedated me before I was wheeled into the operating theatre and given headphones so I had something to listen to other than the surgeon and his assistance.
The sedation has a strong affect, at one stage I actually heard the thumping of a hammer on metal as the surgeon put the pin holding my new femoral head into my femur but it was of no concern to me, just enough went through my mind to recognise the sound for what it was without any worry.
I was up and out of bed the next day, walking with a frame.
I was only in hospital for five days so total boredom didn’t set in, by the third day I could actually leave the ward.
My biggest problem was that here in NSW they take your license away for six weeks after the operation. No driving makes quite a lot of things difficult but luckily I could arrange for someone from the NSW Health department to take me shopping once a week. They also gave me taxi vouchers so I could get to hydrotherapy.
Hydrotherapy was a superb therapy, while always a bit difficult and painful the therapist was incredibly skilled and helpful in easing my recovery and making sure that as much as possible of my limp disappeared. It’s important not to end up with a limp as it actually shortens the life of your new hip.
Now, eight weeks after the operation, I am recovering well. My stamina on the new hip is increasing, my limp only returns when I am tired and sore. More and more of my day is pain free.
Here in Australia we complain about our health services but I would like to thank the system for a new hip delivered in a timely manner at little expense to myself. A big thank you to Stewart at Royal Pince Alfred Hospital’s physiotherapy department for his amazing care.
2012 also had a great deal of pain for me. Having a long term relationship disappear in a painful, hurtful way was not a good start to the year. Chronic depression is not fun and for the first time I found myself in hospital for it. Getting help for depression is difficult, few of the people around you understand what you are going through, even fewer help. Finding enough work to pay the bills has also been a problem this year with no full time job, another ongoing problem.
So that is a few of the things that made up my 2012. I hope for a better 2013 with a few more successes and less failures.
What sticks out in your mind from 2012? I’d love to know.