Challenges: Old Dog - New Tricks

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • We are all aware of some of the challenges and changes that we must face in order to survive with O.A. Recently, I began to have to accept that total hip replacement for my second hip was no longer an option. I've actually known this for a couple of years, but merrily went along the paths of "alternatives" from both my orthopedic surgeon and my primary care physicians. I've tried, I think, every anti-inflammatory on the market as well as a vast variety of pain pills, ointments, water therapy, anti-oxidants, exercises and so forth - everything except voodoo (well actually, on a recent adventure in Peru, I DID talk to a "curadero," a healer/medicine man who painted a temporary butterfly tattoo on my leg for good health)!! I loved the design, but just looked fancier as I limped along!
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    When I had my first hip surgery, I was concerned about how I could attach the clip on my dog's leash so she could go outside, since I was forewarned I shouldn't bend over post-op. One of my sons is an awesome carpenter who, on hearing my dilemma, built a two-step stair so Mandy could climb up and I could clip her leash on. This worked great; however, my dog and I are both almost three years older, and she now has arthritis in her hips and lower back. She is afraid to try to jump up on my bed, her favroite place, because it hurts - and I FULLY understand needing to change activities due to arthritis pain! This morning, I placed the steps beside my bed and she looked at me as though i was crazy! By putting small pieces of her treats on the steps and my bed, I hope she'll learn to make this short climb to achieve her goal. I got tired of waiting for her first "success," so finally I laid the bone on my bed and left the room. In a few short minutes, she ran into my office happily crunching away.

    For me, it is sometimes hard to look at those long-term goals when I'm having one of those extra-painful days. Recently, an orthopedic surgical nurse asked me how I could handle the post-op pain from the first hip replacement. I guess I gave her a totally blank look for a few seconds, then replied, "For me, I think of that pain kind of like what one goes through during childbirth - the worst part faded in my mind when I discovered the incredible end-product - for me, being able to walk and climb pain-free most of the time!"

    Six and a half months after hip replacement number one (and rigorous physical therapy), I was back in Africa working as a nature photographer: climbing and hiking part of Mt. Meru in Kenya, learning to dance with the Massal women, listening to the sounds of the wind whistling through acacia trees on the Savannah, admiring the statuesque elegance of the shephers in their long red robes, laughing at the antics of the white-faced vervet monkeys, playing with young schoolchildren in a primitive desert school, staring in awe at the power of the wildebeest migration on the Serengeti, sipping freshly-grown roasted and ground coffee in front of my tent as the sunrise quietly exposes the majestic snow-capped top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

  • YES - Mandy will learn to climb the steps again, I will learn to walk again - this time with less pain. Someday soon, when asked how I am, I'll be able to answer "Nzuri!!" In Swahili, this means - good, fine, very well!!
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Published On: October 03, 2006