My Naked Foot

 The experience of hip surgery has been an interesting and challenging experience. First, there’s the fact that I haven’t had a stay in hospital for any kind of surgery for over 55 years, when I had my tonsils removed. I don’t remember much about the tonsil episode other than standing at the window watching my parents and brother drive away after depositing me on the ward (parents weren’t welcome to hang around in those days) and the ice cream and jelly served post-operatively. Arriving on the ward of the hospital in Hoofddorp two weeks ago at 06:45 to be prepped for surgery at 08:00 was a very alien experience.

Second, the level of sophistication of the medical care here in the Netherlands and the fact that I only waited a few months for the op, stands in stark contrast to what I hear is the situation in Northern Ireland. Plenty of staff, large clutter-free corridors, QR coded wrist bands and everything happening exactly when you are told to expect it, meant that there was plenty at which to marvel.  Mind you, everyone is obliged to take out health insurance on top of income and social taxes, so the system is well funded.

Third, the challenge of coming to terms with a measure of disability, even though temporary, has been a salutary experience. It’s best typified by my naked right foot.  There are strict rules about the level of movement in the operated leg permitted during the first weeks of recovery, including never allowing the angle between your raised leg and the rest of your body to be less than 90 degrees. Break that rule and the hip is likely to dislocate and that would introduce a whole new world of pain and grief! Consequently, because I didn’t invest in one of those aids for putting on your socks, I’m entirely dependent on Dot dressing my naked right foot each morning. Most other things I can manage myself – but not that. On the day after the op I could walk with a zimmer frame or crutches and mobility has improved markedly since.  I can shower, dress, cook, make coffee, climb stairs – even if somewhat slower than usual – but I can’t put on my right sock.

My naked foot stares at me from the end of the bed, it mocks my inability to get anywhere near it. It dares me to try and calls me pathetic when I don’t. I believe I heard it threaten to go find another leg somewhere that would care for it better – but maybe that was the painkillers talking. As time goes on, it seems my naked foot is teaching me something about dependence, patience and humility.

I had been well briefed by the medical staff on what to expect post-operatively, but no one mentioned the challenge of the naked foot.

Hip hip hooray!

David making coffeeDavid’s got a new right hip. After only two nights in hospital, he came home a week ago and is making good progress. He has mastered the typically Dutch narrow, winding staircase in our house – always remembering the technique ‘Good leg up’; ‘Bad leg down’. For those who know about David’s passion for coffee, you can see in the photo that he has retaken control of the coffee machine – one hand is quite sufficient. In the past couple of days the rain has stopped and so David has started pounding the footpaths around us on his crutches, often receiving encouraging greetings and thumbs-up signals from our friendly neighbours as he passes. We have been overwhelmed by all the cards, emails, phone calls and text messages we have received, reminding us that so many of our family, work colleagues and friends are thinking of us and praying for David’s recovery. david-and-islay.jpg This weekend our daughter Cathy, along with her three-year-old daughter Isla, came to visit. Isla brought David a box of his favourite Tunnocks teacakes and announced, ‘These will make you all better’. We do hope so! Our sincere thanks to all of you who have sent good wishes. Tunnocks