By Becky Cook

It’s really been quite a while since I’ve traveled by air. And there’s rarely occasion to remember the invasive and laborious search process we had to endure to get through airport security. However I remember quite clearly the time at Cancun Airport when I had to turn over [i.e. part with forever!] my favorite manicure tools. I still miss those special friends. On another occasion, someone we often traveled with was required to show proof of his brand new titanium knee! [surgery just a few weeks before.] His medical card served the purpose at the airport. But, when our hotel had a massive fire drill, ALL guests were required to use stairwells to vacate the building. We were seven stories up!

With many senior citizens in this community, it’s very likely there are several folks with “bionic joints or other metal parts” which have to be given validity time and again. I suspect many of my readers could offer stories re. their invisible bones and joints. Insofar as it’s mainly a nuisance, I think it’s kind of fun to carry a wallet size photo card showing my shiny new invisible joint and to know that I’m considered to be a safe bet to be included in the passenger manifest for the air taxi I‘m preparing to board. Thankfully no body searches at the movies YET, though a glance into my purse is required by the ticket taker at the theater we frequent.

The thing is my “original anatomical/skeletal equipment” worked fine for many years! UNTIL IT DIDN’T! As you probably know there are major connectors found in the thigh and upper leg as well as knees, ankles, wrists, and other important body parts. But there is one major location on each side of the body which has to be in good working order for all the other parts to do their jobs effectively. And those are the hip joints! When (not IF) the hip starts wearing down there is the inevitable arrival of various levels of pain. The orthopedist offers a series of treatment options to deal with the pain, starting with oral Rx medication, then steroid injections. When you reach the bone-on-bone level of pain that troublesome hip gets surgically replaced. Each person’s road to recovery is unique. There are no short cuts and I found it took me way more time to reach strength and mobility than I ever dreamed.

When I was released from the hospital following surgery, a team of home health care professionals was assigned to me for about four weeks. A nurse and physical therapist were the primary providers who came to my home. They saw that I got launched into a program of therapeutic exercises and they scrutinized my home environment for safety. Moreover, they taught me how to use my safety equipment (walker, cane, etc.). They wanted to be sure I was on track for proper healing of my hip. By the time I went for my first post-surgical visit to the doctor I was well on the way to healing and was able to manage my walker and cane as needed. From there as I got progressively better I had to learn how to maintain a healthy balance between activity and rest. And no falls allowed! When all was said and done, they finally gave me back my car keys!

It’s really good to be able to look back now on the whole process, including the disciplines which kept me on track to recovery. I’m not quite ready to run right out and repeat it, though I’m grateful to know how doable and effective this term of treatment can be.