Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Look Ma, No Hands

Yesterday I went caneless to the grocery store and carried two bags of groceries 6 blocks home.

A man said as I passed, "That's a good workout."

"You have no idea," I replied in my head.

Then on the way to gym class running late and charging down the street I had a moment where I felt like I could break into a run.

I haven't wanted to break into a run since 2002.

At gym class as I was waiting for gym teacher I remembered how on my first day there I couldn't walk without lurching violently.

I remembered how a few weeks later when she asked, "How are you doing?" I burst into frustrated, angry tears.

Yes, it's been tough at times.

Equally yes, it's entirely worth it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Close Encounters of the Insurance Kind, Part 17,083

All of my interactions with my insurance company have involved the following steps:

1. Ask them to pay something.
2. Hold breath.
3. Let breath go because 2 months have passed.
4. Procrastinate and avoid calling to hear potential bad news.
5. Finally suck it up and call to find out that something just got approved yesterday.
6. Repeat with next item (wheelchair, physical therapy, X-rays etc)

I was on step 4 of two items simultaneously (PT and anaesthesia) when I received an updated bill from Dr. Buly's office. Insurance had already paid for 70% of his bill and I was sort of hoping we could all look the other way about the rest... right? What's a few thousand dollars between friends... except a few thousand dollars...

The good news is that he has reduced the rest of his fee, the medium news is there's still a bit to pay.

Somehow this motivated me to find out exactly how much of everything else I still need to pay for, dammit... and got all ready to battle with whomever picked up the phone at the insurance company as to why they were only covering 1/3 of the anaesthesia when the plan clearly states 100%, etc... and got the nicest man on the phone who said the full anaesthesia was paid for, and extra PT was approved, and hooray!

Sometimes, occasionally, the system works. I know I'm supposed to rant and rave about how shitty health insurance is in this country, and believe me I'm not a fan, but I think I got lulled into happy-land by the words "It's all been approved."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Drop It Like It's Hot

In an ongoing attempt to remain too big for my (rain) boots, I decided yesterday that I was just going to walk around without my cane. Earlier that day I walked the 7 blocks to the bank (no problem), and 7 blocks back home, caneless. Child's play. What was I goofing around with a cane for? I clearly didn't need it anymore. All my Tuesday travel was within walking distance of my house, I reasoned, and since I'd been taking short neighborhood trips without the cane, surely I could just extend the perimeter of what I called 'neighborhood'. Of course, using that logic, I could walk to my brother's house in L.A. without my cane.

So around the beginning of rush hour time I started walking to the office where I teach a class, and suddenly remembered why I needed the cane. There was jostling, and bumping, and tourists looking up, and people trying to get home, and no-one knew that I wasn't just a regular walking person. "Careful!" I wanted to yell, "I'm new at this!" I saw a man with a cane coming the other way and watched with envy as the sea of people parted around him.

But the real indication came when I started limping. I tried to turn it into a cool gangsta walk, but since I am neither cool nor a gangsta it just looked like a white girl lurching down the street.

So it is with a sigh of resignation that I pick up the cane again. Not ready yet.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Something to Consider

Maybe it's not entirely necessary to pull down your pants in the locker room of the fancy gym where you just taught yoga class to show a student who may need labral repair the arthroscopy scar. Just maybe. Maybe her expression/repetition of the phrase "really it's ok I don't need to see it" should give cause for pause.

Separately, new exciting mini-project in the works for all you Dysplastics out there who like I was are tearing your hair out trying to find any information online about HD that doesn't refer to German Shepherds. Brilliant Lauren's idea. Semi-jealous I didn't think of it first, but excited to tag along and help where I can. All will be revealed soonish.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cane 3: In 3-D

4 weeks to the day of my last attempted outing on a Saturday night sans cane, I tried it again last night. Pleased to report that this time, I was fine. No pain, no cane (that's not even funny but I can't erase it). I'm not ditching it completely yet, but it felt really good not to be the girl at the party whose geriatric grey cane doesn't match her cute outfit. So if you're keeping score, that's 18 weeks post-op. Not too shabby.

Also this is my 100th post, which is pretty wild. From a humble birth as an attempt to record what surgery and recovery was like, Paper or Dysplastic has blossomed through a difficult adolescence into graceful young womanhood. Thank you for all your comments and feedback and support. Since I have another surgery looming (oh yes, we get to take the metal out next year) I'm going to keep going. I'm sure there will be many more surprises in store.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

America's Next Top Dysplastic

Today for the first time since surgery, I am wearing jeans.
My legs look the same as each other.
I think that's enough.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Direct Quote

from Gym Teacher:

"You may have had a funny bone, but your muscles are fantastic."

Aw, yeah.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Feeling strong, feeling good, teaching, not in pain, no muscles spasming (although I have a new physical therapist working with Gym Teacher whose sole job is to stretch me; I enjoy the effort-free aspect of it, but not so much the crap-that-hurts aspect. I think he's Dutch). But a new/old development - I'm clicking again. It started Saturday, I'm not sure why, and it's not all the time, but it's audible. I used to click like this, as well as the infamous "clunk" that dysplastics are all too familiar with - but it doesn't hurt or feel like anything. Mostly it just makes me self conscious, like I'm some kind of bionic robot lady with metal parts who clicks when she walks. (Wait a minute...)

In other news, insurance finally paid the surgery bill. There are still some bits and pieces unresolved (for some reason, they only want to cover 1/3 of the anaesthesia bill from surgery. Does that mean I should have been 2/3 awake? Although apparently I was) but this was the biggest chunk, and a large sigh of relief was released by all. Meaning me and probably my mom.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Wheelchair vs. Crutches vs. Cane

Pre-experience, if you had asked me which of the three would elicit the greatest sympathy from passers by, the most compassion, the strongest urge to get out of the way/give you my seat/help you with that from my fellow New Yorkers, I would have thought wheelchair, then crutches, then cane, in descending order. Turns out I was completely ass-backwards wrong.

The wheelchair, I think, falls in the 'I don't want to even think about how much is wrong with this person and I need to avert my eyes' category: our mortality has its limits, and a person in a wheelchair brings that a little too sharply into relief.

Crutches endeared me even less to those I shared the street with. They suggest skiing accident, or spelunking misadventure, which in turn implicates me as a spoiled rich girl with enough money/time to fritter away on such impracticalities that I probably deserved to get hurt. (I'm just saying.)

The cane, however. The cane has brought out the Florence Nightingale in more people than I ever would have expected. It says I'm clearly not dying, at least not yet, and I'm no longer spoiled rich girl, but somehow now plucky survivor, likely with some degenerative disease (not wrong there) but still getting along on all that pluck (such a good word I wanted to use it again) which is a quality New Yorkers adore, so let me give you my subway seat/carry your groceries/seat you for your dinner reservation before your entire party is here, and so on.

It's proven invaluable in many situations, and even more so if I protest that I'm really fine to stand up, etc (so plucky in the face of such obvious tragedy!) which I usually am anyway... as much as the cane's lingering presence in my life irritated me at first, I'm now starting to wonder if I should keep it around and perhaps pull it out for special occasions that could use a little help, like dinner reservations on a Friday night. (I'm just saying.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Full Circle and Around Again

I just realized that I walked the 2 1/2 (long avenue) blocks from the subway to my apartment in full on New York City dweller take-no-prisoners double-time speed walk. Which I may have done pre-surgery, except that by the time I got to my building I would have been limping. I didn't even realize how fast I was walking until the woman walking behind me passed as I stopped at my building and I saw how fast she was going. And she didn't lap me or anything.

And nothing hurts. At all. I feel totally fine. It's a serious miracle.

Please Use Caution Opening Overhead Bins

As some contents may have shifted during flight. Namely, the fat cells in my right leg, behind the scar. There is a mildly disturbing new formation that has caused a visible (at least to me) cellulite dimple that I now like to absentmindedly put my finger in as I walk down the street. Is it solely the fault of the metal and hence will be gone when contents are reshifted next year? Possibly, although it is also not out of the question that this is the permanent new configuration of my thigh.

Oh vanity, thou art a cruel mistress. Looks like my fashion future is squarely set in to-the-knee-or-below styles. Either that or I go commando Spencer Tunick style and let it all hang out... who's with me? Anyone? Hello?