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Friday, October 1, 2010

Hip Blog Day Eight

    5 days to go. Tick tock tick tock tick.

Another very early morning: woke up at 4:30, brewed coffee at 5:15 (tiptoeing about so as not to awaken Michael).   And by 8:30 I've eaten a bagel, checked in on Facebook and Twitter, watched Meredith Matt and Al and the soggy onlookers on the Rockefeller Plaza, and sketched some ideas for my first ten-minute play (not counting the backyard playhouse skits I adapted from Mad Magazine as a boy).

 I didn't know how profound an effect this diagnosis and procedure could have on me.

Writing daily entries on this blog, and one or two a week on my other (, my take on the goings-on in the Greater Boston theater and film community) have inspired me to try my luck and test myself with writing a ten-minute play.   The results I'll submit to the 2011 Boston Theater Marathon.  And my own burst of creativity is buoyed on by the request from Peg Holzemer, longtime local actress, producer and friend.   In June of next year, she's hosting a return of Theatre One's  "A Slice of Life New Works Festival", of ten minute plays and the theme is Dealing With the Challenges of today. Peg's offer came this morning, a day after I started to write one, and mere hours after telling that to my dear friend Margaret Ann.

Stars appear to be aligning. My hip continues to make itself known, but it's not shouting at me (thanks to the meds).  But it's just after 9AM.  Now to turn to the chores (laundry and cleaning and preparing my sleep space for when I return home from hospital or rehabilitation facility).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hip Blog Day Seven: Six To Go

 Hip Haiku

I contemplate the act
Sleep, cut, saw, "Old hip, be gone!"
New hip brings painless hopes

Nurse asks many questions
The subject? My health history,
I feel her empathy

Baptist Hospital,
Like a chic boutique hotel
Clerks in matching suits.

Friends send me support
And family is there for me
What more could I wish?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hip Blog Day Six: Part One

What A Gift

I could never fully comprehend how it is that patients, faced with life-altering diagnoses, refer to their condition, status, situation,  as "a gift".

I finally get it.

It's a "stop and smell the roses" wake-up call.  Though there are risks involved, as with any major procedure, a hip replacement surgery isn't really life-threatening. But it's given me pause to reflect.  Time may be on my side in terms of the recovery process.   As these procedures go, I'm on the "young side" of the joint replacement surgeries.  Compared to some, I'm practically the Justin Bieber of the walker and mall-waking set.

But aging in "the biz" brings fears of diminishing opportunities, age discrimination, and not enough time:  "How LONG do I have to do this" and "How long do I HAVE to do THIS?".  I've been juggling hats (and job titles) in this business of show for over thirty years, and success is often measured in dollars and cents, in residential palaces and status-making possessions and property, in corporations, cars, and clothing.
I'm learning to measure mine in friends and relationships, experiences and reputation.  Mine, on reflection, put me right up there on the Forbes List of non-material success (in a material world).

And the gift of inspiration to get off my duff and "Just Do It" (start writing, count my blessings, follow my dream) is worth all of the millions, Mercedeses, and Armani outfits that  I've yet to acquire.

So thank you, arthritic eroded hip.
You're "the gift" that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hip Blog Day Five: Margo And Eve

Margo And Eve: All About Hips, or
"Welcome to My Surgery"

She was the new hip in town. Eve. Eve Hippington. Little Miss Evil. The baby of the hip set.
Margo Boning was the Hip who played the role for me for a 20,709 day run, never missing a show, bending, gyrating and defiantly supporting the rest of the cast. With her, this show had legs.
But Margo was aging none too gracefully..
The urbane wit, Addison DeSurgeon, saw Margo's flaws and sung the praises of Miss Hippington, who insinuated herself into his good graces, convincing him that a younger, suppler understudy should replace Margo for future productions.
And so, as Margo saw the writing on the wall, she started comp-PAIN-ing too loudly. Addison once told Margo "You are a hip. A dysfuntional one, but a hip."
"Everybody has a Hip. Except some people", she delivered to DeSurgeon.

Eve is now scheduled to carry on in "My Right Hip", beginning Wednesday Oct. 6, for an open-ended run. Audiences are lining up with bouquets, while Margo has retreated into a life of dark victory.

"One day they'll see the light. One day they'll learn."

And that's the day she vows to shout, "Whatever Happened To Baby Hip?"

Hip Blog Day Five: Part One

Pain Medication: The Good, The Bad, and The Obvious, or "What a difference a pill makes"

I've had to deal with pain in the past.
Tooth aches, occasional back spasms, even the intensity of a cholesterol and stress-related heart attack in 2002 (for which I received no invasive procedures: no stents, no bypasses, just ongoing hypertension and blood pressure pills).
Now, as my hip pain increases towards the day when I become a "Hip-Op" star, I've been "experimented on" by nurse practitioners and doctors to monitor my pain. Don't misunderstand: on the 1-10 scale, I started with a 3, and over the past 6 weeks they've only advanced to a 6 or 7. But the steady nature, which builds as each individual day wears on, is more than enough to need pharmaceutical control.

First it was Motrin, 3 pills, 3 x a day. When that wasn't enough, I "graduated" to a twice a day muscle relaxant and Vicodin at night. Then even that needed augmenting with Ambien. But for the past few nights my sleep has been interrupted, waking because of my aching bones. Yesterday (see previous post) I was switched to Percocet, the minimum dose to get me to next Wednesday.

Like night and day: literally. I slept all night and I'm productive today.

I don't find the sensation particularly pleasant or unpleasant, I simply don't notice the pain. With a history of youthful experimentation and learning to cope with my generation's choices to find an external aid to help us to "feel good", I am concerned and aware of the pitfalls of Percocet and other narcotics, but I'm also following doctors' orders and keeping to minimal use, not abuse.
And I'm also aware that that's probably what Anna Nicole, Lindsay and MJ were thinking.
20,702 days down, 8 days to go till Hip Day.
One pill at a time.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hip Blog Day Four

A more clinical blog entry on a damp and drizzly day.

What you've heard about arthritis and the weather is true: the damp days are the damnedest. Cold and wet ones are the worst. The chilly wet air creeps into one's bones, and pain is that much more difficult to control.

I took, as today's mission, the actions I needed to get some better results. Having been advised on Friday to discontinue the ibuprofen therapy my surgeon suggested, of three tablets three times a day, I called Harvard Vanguard's Somerville location. For the past week or so I've been finding that Vicodin just wasn't cutting it, and phoned my primary care doc's office to explain my pain predicament. The result: a prescription for Percocet, a stronger combination composite pharmaceutical of oxycodone combined with acetaminophen. But, as oxycodone is a narcotic, the prescription couldn't be faxed to my pharmacy, and I trekked out to Davis Square to pick it up.

Last night I was woken by leg pains at 2 am (these wee hour awakenings are becoming more common). The Ambien no longer gives uninterrupted sleep. And the nightly ritual of watching infomercials and newscasts are becoming a drag. The bulk of the day becomes a combination of trying to accomplish tasks and chores, with cat naps and Facebook and brainstorming blog posts. So now I'm on Percocet, as (pardon the visual) constipating as Vicodin, but much more pleasant for the pain.

As is far too common for me in times of stress, the moments before rushing to the red line to pick up my prescription were fraught with foraging for my insurance coverage cards, my Charlie card, and my keys. Needless to say to any who knows us, this is not my more prepared partner's Modus Operandi . He's always ready with time to spare, whereas I'm always "late to the gate". (when I used to travel to NY before living there, and almost any time I traveled anywhere for business or pleasure, I'd joke, with more truth than exaggeration, that I'd board the planes, buses, or trains, and as soon as I got seated, they'd move).

Arriving at the Harvard Vanguard pharmacy at 5:55 (it closes each weeknight at 6), I paid for the meds with the last of my funds, then skipped to the loo. To frost the icing on the frustrating cake of today, my iPhone slipped out of my grip and into the sink. I buried it in basmati once I got home. It's doing okay, though the right side of the screen has a swath of bright light, the signs of abuse shining through.

Kind of like the x-rays of My Right Hip.

Now I'm composing this post on the type face of said iPhone (my laptop keyboard is kaput: for weeks now, all my writing is an exercise in patience: emailing myself messages to cut and paste into the computer's web browser, and editing them by hunting and pecking individual character corrections. Repairing or replacing it will have to wait).

I'm now ready to dub this day "over". The burst of ideas this that flowed forth this morning for a blog post parody of a cinema classic will have to wait till tomorrow.
After all (he wrote, plagiaristically), tomorrow is another day.
Or so I've read.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hip Blog Day Three

Today I found a website that calculates the number of days between specific dates. My hip (in fact, my entire skeletal structure) and I have cohabitated for 20,700 days.
Seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.

This is equal to exactly 56 years, 8 months, and 2 days.

It's been a good "run".
The hip's got ten days left.
I'd love to see it's replacement last as long.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hip Blog Day Two, Second Entry

On Friday 9/24, I had a 4 1/2 hour "visit" to NE Baptist Hospital, pre-surgery meetings with a series of administrators, doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, social worker, and physical therapist. Very thorough: what didn't they ask, answer, test, and teach?
A small and highly regarded facility, it's situated at the top of Mission Hill, with beautiful views of Boston and environs for miles around, and patient rooms on the upper floors. A series of older buildings connected by enclosed walkways and tunnels, I felt nicely surrounded by a caring staff. The entrance had the feel of a boutique hotel; the administration was even outfitted in matching black business-like suits and open-collared sky blue shirts/blouses. The comfortable pre-surgery waiting room had a station with complimentary coffee, teas, and a selection of cookies.
Armed with a folder of info , instructions, and a DVD of demonstrations of suggested pre-surgery exercises, I left feeling like all of my fears and concerns had been covered.
I think I'm going to like it here.

Reprinted from
Entry:"The Robots And Me"

The decades between college and the physically taxing workshop, however, have taken their toll. The abandon with which I thrust myself into the experience resulted in increasing leg and knee pains: I exacerbated a condition I was completely unaware of. X-rays and orthopedics revealed to me and my doctors that I have acute arthritis in my right hip, it's cartilage eroded due to years of working on my feet in just about every job I've ever held, living most all of my life in third and fourth floor "walk-ups", genetics, and possibly from infant hip dysplasia (back in the mid-50's, when I was born, doctors weren't looking at such things). My left hip shows no arthritis, just minor signs of an active life well-lived, but my right hip is basically bone-on-bone. (I was told by my doctor that x-rays show I "have the knees of an 18 year old".)
In retrospect, this explains the minor aches and pains that have been coming on over the past few years. And so, on Wednesday Oct. 6, I'm undergoing total hip replacement surgery at New England Baptist Hospital, the best orthopedic facility in the region if not the country, with Dr. James Phillips , likewise one of the best in his field.

When I told a friend about my hip, he replied "Now you'll have the knees of an 18 year old and the hip of a Robot".
One of my goals in recovery is to be physically sound enough to perform with the opera in March at the Majestic.
I can't wait to work with my Robot brethren.

Hip Blog Day Two

Awoken at 3:40 am by a combination of a "call from Nature" and the call from my arthritic pain ... a burst of creative thought, a friend's FB profile quote becomes the inspiration to follow the thread and the kernel of the germ of an idea.

Lemons into lemonade.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Hip Blog Day One

The aches and pains and meds related to my failing hip cause such erratic sleep (early bedtimes, waking at all hours, mid-morning and afternoon naps) that it must be like actor preparation for my real-life role as a surgical patient, readying myself for those all-hour pokes and prods attending my upcoming hospital stay.

This morning, my partner Michael told me that Eddie Fisher died last night.
How? He
didn't want to tell me.
"Complications following hip replacement surgery".
Oh, great. Everyone in the world is telling me uplifting stories of successful procedures and rapid recoveries, I have to hear this from YOU?
We're still laughing.
The best medicine:)