On February 9, I had bilateral anterior hip replacements: two bright new shiny hips as I think about entering my 70’s.
I spent almost a week in the hospital, first in acute care, and then in re-hab, before coming home to begin the long healing process. My time in the hospital reminded me of how recovering from surgery is a mindfulness practice, in a way that is similar to a train trip.
Traveling on a train (which I do frequently, to visit my kids) is like suspending your life, your responsibilities for a day. Yes, I can still do computer work, but internet access is spotty, and so I don’t really try to be connected. I have text conversations with very few people, so it does not require my attention. My cell phone hardly rings, and when it does, I rarely answer it.
All of this puts me in a kind of ‘bubble’ when I am on the train. There are no expectations, no responsibilities. The day is mine. I can choose to read, to eat, to gaze out the window. I usually do all of those things. The choices are totally mine. It is enforced slow-living; I relish the time.
During the first night in the hospital, post-surgery, I found a semi-comfortable, drug-induced position, and never moved. I was wakened frequently, to take more drugs, to have my vital signs tested. The breathing and thinking I was doing during that time, and during the other times of restfulness, reminded me of my train trips. It was a freedom. There were no expectations; I didn’t need to pay attention to e-mails or politics. I was again in my own little ‘bubble.’
It was, and still is, a time of paying attention to multiple small details. How to walk, for example: keep your foot straight, lift it up, bring it forward, press down the heel, then the toe. Repeat with the other foot. Repeat. Repeat.
Is this drug-induced rambling? Perhaps. I hope that I am more able, in the future, to still be appreciative of every skill, to take nothing for granted.