Drawing by Carolyn Milliken
For the past several weeks my master here at The Tortoise Factor has undergone successful hip surgery. I’ve had to secretly fill in for him. The operation went as well as the dual knee replacement of several years ago. The hip joint like the buns that surround it, unlike the leaner neighborhood of the the knees, is harder to access and less painful in the end because of all the muscle in those climes. So, according to Master, the knee trip was briefer but a little more painful. The hip job just takes longer. He took very few pain pills and Tylenol did the job. Three days max in the hospital.
Although the tortoise has a hip, it has to have industrial strength due the long life of tortoises — sometimes over 100 years. Then, too, I don’t suppose we tortoises subject our bodies to the risks of strenuous, unnatural feats of athletic prowess. We sleep a lot in winter, too. We don’t mow the lawn and experience a lot of rotation at the end of each cut. We don’t bowl and crouch either. I can’t ride a bicycle as Master does. I don’t know whether pumping uphill does good or bad for the hips. Mostly I think Master just sat on his can too much and didn’t work out the arthritis, but I’m only a tortoise not a doctor. Master is a bookworm. He told me he’s going to look into one of those new desks with the elevator(crank or electric) that enables a sedentary man to at least stand at his computer.
Master didn’t want to write this article, because “There’s nothing more boring than an old fart rambling about aches, pains and travails of infirmity and inconvenience.” Master was lucky to have those cheerful nurses and a long suffering wife stepping and fetching for him now for weeks. By the way he says that tool called a reacher was a blessing as a man isn’t able to bend or allowed to bend more than 90 degrees). It’s a wonderful tool. Unlike the plastic urinal and the horrible surgical stockings, Master will keep the reacher — but I wish he’d quit teasing me and the dogs with it. Well, he feels good anyway, snapping away at all of us with his reacher.
While he was pretty diligent about his therapy, he groused a lot, especially at the leg lifts, bridges and crotch crunchers. He was great at wiggling his toes. The walker made him feel really elderly and just as clanky as the device itself. When cane time came, he was surprised at the challenging art of using a cane. If you ever have to use one, remember to put it on the side opposite the injury — seems strange but it works. Master has trouble remembering this. Truly he found caning as troubling as walking and chewing gum at the same time. Regardless of using a cane or walker, a man has to look out for sleeping dogs and cats. After surgery it’s all about balance and minute caution. Oh, and Miller High Life. That rule he broke.
With the blessings of God, medical technology, a great wife, Medicare, books and the company of terriers and Toby. Master is very happy and thankful. Oh, one last caveat, if you buy ankle weights add them VERY slowly. A success with an effective half pound weight is no invitation to add five too soon. Easy does it. This is tortoise wisdom at its best: incremental, careful exertions. Let the hare get the shin splints.
Steadfast and cautious,
C. Tobin Tortoise