The Joy of Sitting

(Originally published Mar. 19, 2008).

This entire recuperation thing has been way harder than I thought. No matter how routine modern hip replacement surgery has become, recovery isn’t for sissies.

Strangely enough, one of my main issues around recovery is the whole sitting thing. In the past, I always found it remarkably easy to sit (as opposed to stand, run, jog, jump, skip, hop, etc.). I was a champion sitter. I considered sitting one of my gifts. Who knew that after surgery, there would be so many restrictions on the simple act of sitting?

First and foremost, without pain meds (and I’m talking about those nice, strong addictive ones), the simple act of sitting hurts, plain and simple. Think extreme pressure resulting from placing, um, ample weight in close proximity to a 12 inch incision holding together flesh which has been peeled from the bone (similar to a butterflied leg of lamb) to permit the insertion of a large foreign object in the body. You get the drift.

Second, the height of the chair is all-important. No low and comfy chairs for the hip replacement patient, thank you very much. For four to six weeks, I have to sit on a tall-ish chair to keep my leg at the correct angle. The same chair must have arms on it so I can launch myself into a standing position in order to stagger back to bed. I even use a raised <ahem> commode, complete with arms, to attend to Nature’s call. Last week, I made the mistake of using a public toilet and nearly ripped the handicap bar off the wall trying to support myself at the correct height and angle — hovering approximately six inches above the toilet seat. Naturally, this restriction has ruled out activities of significant duration. For a few more weeks, my fun is restricted by the size of my bladder.

Worst of all, I made the unpleasant discovery that painful sitting is not conducive to creativity. Apparently, my brain function declines in direct proportion to my level of pain. Hence, all writing attempts have dwindled to a few e-mails a day.

Nevertheless, my progress has been steady, slow, and painful. After three and a half weeks, I’m pleased to report that I am finally able to walk (okay, hobble) a couple of times around the block and to sit with some degree of comfort at my computer for more than half an hour at a stretch. Hopefully, I can get back to work and crank out the remainder of Fur Ball Fever.

If there’s one thing I have learned, folks, it is never to underestimate the joy of sitting.