Martina Young -- The Long Road to Bilateral THR
Scheduled Date of Surgery: April 6, 2010
Surgeon: Dr. Jeffrey Dodd
Hospital: Tahoe Forest Hospital, Truckee, California
Martina has waited a long time for this surgery and has been supported in her effort by many friends. She has had a unique funding experience. We look forward to reading her full story here after her surgery. -NR
Pre-Op, Pre-Admit, Pre-Surgery:
As of this writing, it is the day before I go into surgery for bilateral hip replacements. It has indeed seemed a long and arduous road getting here. Nevertheless, here I am with my share of, understandably, jitters and apprehensions. Let me just say in the spirit of Oprah's expressive confirmation: "Here we go!"
Last week, Thursday, March 25th, I'd undergone a fluid yet exhausting day of pre-op procedures - five hours worth. I was so glad to have my lifelong friend and caregiver Mark Hester who had just the day before flown in from Portland to be with me for the duration. So, 10 am that following morning, we met with the CEO and CFO of Tahoe Forest Hospital - two of the individuals responsible for engineering an affordable partnership with me to have the surgery performed at their hospital, the details of which I will address in another writing. By 11 am, I was meeting with my surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Dodd who will perform the bilateral hip replacement procedure using the anterior approach. We went over - again - the known risks, expectations, and any other outstanding questions I still had in my queue, of which I had a few: confirming "no cement" usage in securing the prosthetics, the issue of "fat embolism" - a condition that apparently occurs more often with the breakage of bones - and the option of having an epidural versus a general anesthesia to reduce the risk of a possible allergic reaction. A friend of mine who not too long ago had shoulder surgery had an allergic reaction to the gas "isoflurane" (See Wikipedia for more details or speak to an anesthesiologist for more details). My surgeon had no problem with the idea of having an epidural; he was more concerned that I be fully unconscious for the duration of the surgery. I'll second that! As I write this, however, I am aware, or I feel that I am aware that some part of me remains conscious, i.e. my body/mind! It is the cognitive apparatus of mental observation that is temporarily on pause, shall we say? I digress. On to the rest of the day.
12:00 noon, I met with the hospital's Financial Counselor April to go over my payment and sign my contract with the hospital and, to hand over my down payment. It is now my understanding that it was she who had pursued a conversation with Robert Shapper, the CEO, about my efforts to find excellent and affordable health care. I got a friendly and optimistic "Glad to know this is finally happening," form her as I left her office. From there I saw the Pre-Admit nurse Eileen who, for a second time, explained all of the pre-surgical do's and don'ts including who I am, what I'm allergic to, what supplements, vitamins and medications I'd been taking. Had I been taking aspirin or any other blood-thinning supplement, it was important to stop. As part of my own liver-supporting diet, I had also stopped taking the pain medication Hydrochodone well over a month ago.
12:30 pm. Across the hall to complete all admittance paper work with Martha who told me that when she was growing up in Mexico, her mother always called her "Martina." I was scheduled to meet with the PT at one o'clock, but it was becoming clear that Mark and I would have to quickly get something to eat as we were by this time quite hungry. I had had my usual breakfast smoothie while Mark had what actor Sydney Poitier calls a "catholic breakfast" in the 1963 film Lilies of the Field - one egg and a glass of milk. Actually, Mark didn't have milk but a cup of tea. (Perhaps more Hindu than Catholic.) Martha gave me a beeper to let me know when the PT would be ready for me and directed us where to go after we'd eaten. By 12:50 pm we were at the cafeteria to dine on whatever was available and quick- salad bar for me, hot chicken enchilada, soup and veggies for Mark. We took our trays into the lobby, ate fairly leisurely, and by 1:20 was in with the occupational therapist Jeanie. We discussed home conditions, necessary equipment for the home, and the in-hospital therapies I would receive post-surgery: walking two times each day beginning the day following surgery. Depending on how I feel, I might even try climbing a few stairs. With the anterior procedure, there are "no restrictions;" movement is dependent upon how the body feels it can perform. Of course, all within reason.
By 2:15, my last scheduled appointment, I had blood drawn - which we did again just yesterday, Sunday April 4th, another two units worth - and to have an EKG. Alas, Mark and I were driving down the Sierras toward home by ten of three. Though it was a day after which I was quite spent, everything went like clockwork and I was quite pleased.
Well, tomorrow is the day. May the Force be with Dr. Dodd and all his team, and with my next entry, I will be "writing from the hip" - new hips that is.
Today, April 13th is exactly a week since surgery. Today, I walked outside into a sunny, perfectly blue sky filled with billowy white clouds and, with the aid of my walker and accompanied by my long-time friend and caregiver Mark, went to the Century 12 movie theatre located just a block away from my loft. We joined a flock of children and their adults to see "How To Train Your Dragon." Light, humorous animation with a message, it was just the right event to watch following the real-life dramatics of bilateral hip surgery. All went well and I am on the firm path to recovery.
The day immediately following the surgery, the occupational PT had me up and walking with a walker. However, within minutes, I nearly passed out due to my blood pressure taking a nosedive. The aide who followed behind me swiftly brought the wheel chair up under me as everything seemed flow in slow motion and like a silent film. I didn't fully go unconscious, and I wheeled back to my hospital room. Fortunately from that day forward, no such occurrence happened and I was able to resume and fulfill the post-operative tasks of walking the halls, climbing a few stairs - one step at a time - and beginning exercises such as parallel knee bends (pliés) and heel raises (elevées). Though my blood pressure is normally on the low side, the one-time occurrence alerted my surgeon and nurses to watch me carefully over the next four days of my hospital stay. I went in on Tuesday, April 6th and came home Saturday, April 10th. Because I had exhibited such mobility so quickly, the surgeon was prepared to have me go home on Friday, just three days after surgery, even though I had been also running somewhat of a mild fever - 100.2 - a level that drew no special concern since apparently it is quite typical to run a low-grade fever after such a surgery. Nevertheless, I did not feel ready to make the transition home, so I stayed yet another day till Saturday. I returned home the afternoon of April 10th, leaving a community of supportive and friendly nurses and staff.
Mark has been a gem in preparing all our meals, cleaning all our messes (including Pearl's, my kitty cat) and just being wholly present in my time of need. I cannot imagine not having this level of help immediately following this kind of surgery. It is highly recommended to have such help for at least a week following one's first day home. And, I am quite blessed to have such a friend who, among many, has accompanied me along this leg of the journey. God bless indeed. In two days, my surgeon removes the stitches.
To be continued...
Update June 21 2011
This writing marks a full year since my bilateral hip surgery and comes on the heels of my 12-month evaluation with my surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Dodd of Truckee Forest Hospital. He gives two thumbs up for my recovery, sending me off to continue what I've been doing in terms of my healing processes (bodies instinctively move toward balance), with hopes of seeing me dance in the not-too-distant future. I was able to perform a slow dance for the Reno Buddhist Center's annual Hanamatsuri Flower Festival celebrating the birth of the historical Buddha. It was hoped that I would be able to do this when, a year ago, we were practicing the folk song, "Sakura." A blessing come true indeed. I did confide to the doc, however, that while I face head-on the possibility of dancing "full out," I do so not without trepidation, some fear, and a goodly dose of caution. Dodd replied, "Rightfully so." To be sure, I still have quite a bit of limitation having had to wait so long for the surgery in the first place. Nevertheless, as is typical of creative souls, I am on to ruminating, imagining, re-negotiating, and cogitating on a poetics of my body and just how this body wants to speak in its silent way. Alongside images of movement is another kind of languaging in the form of a memoir. All of this is a-swirl as I plan to take the rest of the year to sort it all out and allow it to take form. Meantime I move into a new and unknowable future.
During this year, I have written several pieces: "Grace in the Age of Obama" was presented last month at the 2011 Popular/American Culture Association Conference in San Antonio, TX and is being prepared for publication in the Popular Culture Journal; "Euterpe's Call: A Melodics of the Mythic Imagination" was accepted for publication in the online Coreopsis: Journal of Myth and Theatre, and is now being considered for the book, Coreopsis, an anthology of select work; at the beginning of the year, "perception (w)rites: The Work of Ralph Lemon" was published in itch, an LA-based dance journal; lastly, my dissertation chapter on Toni Morrison's poetics in her novel Beloved, is being published by Bucknell University Press. "Beloved Bodies: Gestures Toward Wholeness" will appear this summer in the anthology, The Clearing: Forty Years with Toni Morrison, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Morrison's published work since The Bluest Eye. While my body healed, my mind danced on the page; thank goodness for language. And Food Stamps.
Here are some links about Martina:
reno tahoe interview
dance history project
These links were not active as of July 2013:
Your can read her journals about this effort on her website:
And visit her personal website: