Ever get some news at Christmas that tests your powers of positivity?
Not so long ago, I’d been experiencing some hip pain, but I certainly didn’t expect to hear the doctor inside my phone saying, “Well, no wonder you’re in pain! You have pieces of cartilage all over the place in there, and there’s almost no cartilage in your hip joint. I recommend a total hip replacement.”
Whaaat?? Me?? Strong, healthy, invincible me??? Too-young-for-a-hip-replacement me? I was absolutely floored. Apparently I was born with dysplasia (yes, I know, dogs have it too) that, after a “number of years” (ahem) precipitated this wear and tear; finally, the cartilage made a break for it. A fast break.
We set the surgery up for January, and I spent the Christmas season on crutches. I searched hard for ways to get in the Christmas spirit; the best I could do was gimp around, brandishing a crutch and saying, “God bless us, every one!”
To tell you the truth, though, I was bummed in a big way. The nerve of God, letting this happen at the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Early in January, I had an instructional session with the nurse, who showed me exactly what goes on with this surgery. It’s wicked-sounding, for sure. Then she gave me a surgical release form to sign.
Have you ever seen one of those things? This one detailed all the nasty stuff that could happen with this procedure, such as, neurovascular damage, dislocation of the hip, loosening or abnormal wear of the prosthesis, pulmonary embolus, death, fracture, leg lengthening and blood clots or infection, which could in rare cases lead to the loss of the limb.
Holy cow! Notice how they sneak death in there in the middle of everything else, like you won’t notice? I wasn’t too crazy about the loss of limb part, either. I left her office that day, begging God for a miraculous healing.
Instead, as He is often wont to do, He offered me a new perspective. After a few days of whining, I decided accept that offer, risk sounding like Little Merry Sunshine, and list all the positive things about having this surgery at such a tender age. I know, I know. It sounds cheesy and ineffective, like a band aid on a gaping wound. However, it honestly helped. Here is my list:
- If I had been born 100 years ago, I would be limping and in pain the rest of my life.
If I had been born a horse, they would have shot me.
- Modern medicine rocks. My doctor asked if I would consent to not being put under general anesthesia (“Yeah, sure!” I told him. I thought he was kidding!). He preferred a spinal block and a sedative. And what a fine sedative it was.
When they rolled me into the operating room, I was awake…but that was A-OK, because I didn’t care! No sirree, not one bit! As the surgery started, I heard Lionel Ritchie singing their background music (Well, I’m easyyyyy….easy like Sunday morninggg) (and boy, was I easy).
A little while later, I heard a noise. “Wow!” I said to nobody in particular, “that sounds like a saw!” “Indeed,” said Dr. Jessup, “that’s what it is.” Then I heard another noise. “Wow!” I said again. “That sounds like a hammer!” “Right again!” Then I remember looking up at the anesthetist; she looked down at me and asked, “Are you okay, honey?” And I replied, “Oh, I’m FINE!” And I really was. I felt so warm and cozy, and I remember thinking, “This is so fascinating. I can’t wait to tell all my friends about it!”
Talk about an adventure in changing perspective.
The surgery went well. I ended up with a hip that’s younger than any other body part I own.
Am I glad I had to have an alien hip? Well, no. In a perfect world, I would choose to keep my own stuff till the end, thank you. But I did find that a change in perspective can focus your mind and spirit in a direction that’s not down.
Which brings me to this This Day.
When tough times come in December, we pretty much moan, “Such a shame for life to be this way at Christmas.”
And yet—shouldn’t it be the opposite? Shouldn’t we welcome Christmas
As a reminder of our hope in hopeless circumstances?
As a reminder that we have joy alongside our sorrows?
As a reminder that we are loved perfectly, no matter how unlovable we feel?
As a reminder that God’s peace can be ours, whatever else is churning in our hearts and in the world?
Yes, instead of saying, “I hate for life to be like this in the middle of Christmas!” I’ve come to realize that we should be saying, “Thank God Christmas has come in the middle of life like this…”
Carry on, adventurers…in the merriest way possible.