Greetings my walking friends. I am coming to you from the interior of my cheap, but reliable two-cycle washing machine! No really, that is where I am stuck at. I need to wash the Emperor’s New Clothes. Since my washer is all or nothing I suppose I must cram them into the mesh laundry bag to do the job. No delicate cycle here.
“Hey! There’s a dime in here! I need that!”

I reach for it, but that horrible stabbing pain reminds me that my hip locked tight into its socket. I am trapped…right, where I am standing, bent over into the washer. You’re curious how I got here? I was reaching to grab the little blue fabric softener ball still lying at the bottom of my grey laundry tub when I was attacked by my right hip joint…for no reason.

Maybe the dime can just lay there for now.

All that sweet, blissful denial drains away just like the washer drains away the water. No more can I convince myself that; ‘oh summer isn’t over yet’ – ‘my hip isn’t hurting that bad’ – ‘If I work it a little bit it will get stronger!’ Baloney! I was only working, or walking, faster toward the spin cycle! As mentioned in a previous walk it gets worse and worse as the level of activity increases. It’s getting weaker and more pliable (not in a good way) with each step I take.

I was always healthy and athletic. It was only recently that I became overweight. I am not that much over now, but I am over. Maybe that is why I didn’t see the truth about my poor bones sooner. In the past, I could turn up the activity to lose weight, even over forty. I refused to believe that my Empress of Denial is walking about buck naked! (Or as some have recently called it butt naked.)

My hip stabs me again and brings my thoughts back to the washer; I am trapped here. Held hostage by an angry, barricaded hip-joint holding a knife on my ligaments as it robs me of my mobility. “Gimme the mobility and no one gets hurt!” I comply and lay still, bent over into the washer.

What to do now? I try to steady myself on the edge of the machine to stand upright ​like other humans do, but my hip jabs the knife directly into my joint. I lay back down, half into the washer and half trying to balance on my left leg. Letting out a deep sigh, I try to come up with a new plan that doesn’t involve panicking everyone in the house.

I can hear it now, “Hello, 911, my mom is stuck in the washer!” Nope! No way! Not today! NO!

I test out the stability of the machine to see if I can lower myself down the front of it to the floor. Then I realize it doesn’t matter if I can because my hip jabs me hard in the right lower buttock as I try to make my escape. I sigh, trying not to panic as I lean back into the washing machine. Darn, I hoped that would work. (I checked later, you can’t lower down the front, it’s a bit unstable for that.) Finally, I realize that I am naked! No, not really, but I have given up denying that I need help! NOW! As in right now! I call for my teens. They help me out of the washer, and over to the kitchen table. Then they call for help…my brother and his wife, no ambulance today. Whew.

Later I drive myself to the emergency room. I am carrying on about terrible muscle spasms, stabbing pain, and being trapped in the washer. They give me some medication to loosen up the muscles, relieve the stabbing pain, and take x-rays. Six hours later I am peeling the I.V. out of my arm demanding to leave. Enough already! It’s time to go. {I get impatient like that.}

Peeling the I.V. out of my arm brings out the best in the normally calm emergency room staff. Turns out, I can’t leave (AKA: drive) until the effects of the medication wear off. Darn it! Why do I have the only seventeen-year-old in the United States who refuses to get a driver’s license!

A few minutes later a frowning doctor tells me it is unwise to remove the I.V. myself. (I have training with it, so it’s not like I ripped it out! I know how to remove it, and IT WAS TIME TO GO!). After her lecture, she explains that my hip joint is gone, and short of an oilcan, it can no longer be ‘fixed’. If I want the pain and locking to stop, I need a total hip replacement. She shows me the x-ray. It is plain to anyone, even someone who has never seen an x-ray, that my hip joint is gone, bone on bone. The left hip joint looks much different than the right one. My right leg is a teeny bit shorter than my left, and the ball of my femur is jammed into the socket. It looks distressing.

No wonder it resorted to taking hostages.

I frown at it, thinking I could have gone without seeing that. But not even the best Emperor Brand wardrobe can hide this. Here what I don’t know CAN hurt me.
“You have some interesting x-rays,” she said, pointing out all the screws from previous surgeries.

“Periacetabular Osteotomy,” I say, still feeling bristled at being here too long. Periacetabular Osteotomy is doctor-speak for ‘they sawed both the right and left halves of my pelvis in half, repositioned them, and then screwed them back together.’ In medieval times, I guess you could say I was quartered.
“Why?” she asked.

I have severe hip dysplasia with shallow sockets. I have always been told ‘one-day surgery would be needed’. I waited too late for the right hip, but honestly, it wasn’t hurting that bad—until it hurt. It went from zero to ten instantly. The first surgery was at age 36. And now twelve years later, I am on my third hip surgery; second for the right hip. For those of you who are familiar with this disorder, it is best to have this surgery as a child, not an adult. But it did not SEEM bad until — it was gone, along with the opportunity to save the hip. Because it did not seem bad – my parents wore the same ‘clothing’ that I did. “There is nothing wrong with our daughter.” I don’t write that to blame them; I write that to warn you that if you have been told your child needs this surgery DO NOT DELAY. They may seem fine now, but it will rob them of everything when they are adults. Within seventy-two hours my career was gone and my 40% cut in pay permanently FIXED in place – never to be regained.

When I am finally back at home, with a surgery date a month out, I hobble over to the washer, and pull out the stupid fabric softener ball and then I remember the dime.

Hey! A dime! I was short a dime earlier at work for a soda. Well, at least, I can get my soda tomorrow. I smile and take the teeny victory for what it is; a chance for a treat.

I glance down at the empty washer tub. With no clothes in the bottom of it, the Emperor’s New Clothes comparison is magnified. There is only the clean, Downy fresh scent of the grey tub with its white speckles. One thing is for sure, I am fully clothed right now; completely covered! No delusions about ability or inability here. My Burka of Humility is covering me in all the right places.

Doc says I can keep walking in the park, but I should not go alone. I am headed to the Paint Creek Trail next time. Meanwhile, I will wait a day or two before I go, let the medication do its job while the hip heals up from its ordeal — No, while MY hip heals up from MY ordeal.


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