It is spring time at ALA.
I’m sure that right now, you are asking yourself whether this article is going to turn into a tale of how I found love. Well, it is not. I just thought that it was a good way to grab your attention.
In actual fact, this tale is more closely related to the winter (or summer for those in the northern hemisphere). Prior to closing last year, my left hip decided it was time to pack up and head for a nice retirement deep in my pelvis. As you have probably guessed, this caused many problems, I lost my ability to straighten my leg, or even walk without toppling over in pain. This meant I was forced onto crutches to avoid further damage.
After I got home, it was decided that I needed to get the hip replaced sooner rather than later. However, the whole process soon turned into a mess and a half of appointments, second recommendations and medical aid arguments.
During all this commotion, a dove mother decided to start free-loading on our balcony. Within a day, it had fortified its nest and laid one egg, so it didn’t seem very set on leaving any time soon. By the end of the next day, it had laid a second egg, and had started sitting on both for long stretches of time, just staring vacantly at our window, daring us to try and ask it to leave.
Around this time, I was being passed between doctors like a pen at an ill-timed survey. Soon, I started to drift between sheer, painful boredom at home and copious amounts of leg fiddling in examination rooms. I suppose that a break from all this was my awesome physiotherapists, whose sessions consisted of leg massages, bridging and bone jokes (which are a lot funnier than I thought).
A few weeks passed, and I was finally booked in for an operation. It was in good time as well: my leg was feeling like a gorilla was repeatedly slamming a frozen ice pick into it every few seconds. Oddly enough, I developed a (probably) unhealthy obsession with gorilla related art works at that time. But, also around this time, the bird’s babies actually hatched, and quickly grew from ambiguous hairballs to miniature copies of their parents.
I went into theatre on August the first, after twelve hours of pre-surgery starvation. My dad got a video of when I went under, and after close examination, it looked like a pretty painful process: I wouldn’t know. I was half conscious by the time they started pumping the anaesthetic.
Waking up with numb legs and a pathetic excuse for an appetite was rather jarring, considering I was about ready to eat a horse alive prior to the operation. In addition, the morphine that had been doing rounds through my blood stream was making me extremely itchy for no reason, as well as drowsy enough to fall asleep while chewing macaroni.
But that was just the start of the nightmare that was my week in hospital. The days consisted of a few hours of sleep between constant pulse checks and invasive needle prodding. I had lost plenty of blood, and had the pleasure of a broken drip needle and a missed insertion halfway through receiving my second pint. Eating felt like a chore. My leg had swelled to the extent that my scar looked like a massive mouth on the side of my calf, only held from devouring my bed sheets by a thin wound dressing. All this was handled in a single, extremely revealing hospital gown.
The birds weren’t faring too well either. For two days, there were intense winds, and their parents did not seem to be anywhere in sight (unlike my very present ones). But things weren’t always bad. My parents were there every few hours. I got surprise visits from both Nurse Bonita, our school nurse, Mr Faith, my advisory father, and my cousin Darryl along with the rest of his family. And the nurses on duty were all pretty sympathetic, and kept me laughing. They were the people keeping me from snapping like a leg under a fat lady’s stiletto.
I started to pass time by trying to imitate my doctor, Dr Van Der Plank’s own walking. He is a tall guy, towering over most of the hospital staff that he works with. He has a pretty rigid walk, worthy of any self-respecting protagonist. I often imagine that he has been steadily scared into having a ridiculously healthy spine by meeting so many people with bad hips.
By a week post-surgery, I was feeling as spiffy as a new-born unicorn. I was still using crutches, but it was a relief to get the axe-wielding gorilla off my back. I was forced onto a rigorous exercise program, which was my first experience with my parents as organisational tsars.
On a post operation check-up, I was given a picture of what my hip looked like after it got taken out. In all honesty, I can’t blame it for wanting a break. It looked like it pulled an all-nighter at the hardware store, and accidentally fell into the wood-chipper while sorting the varnish isle. I wish it all the best in the osteology office.
But over the next few weeks, I steadily worked my way from a crippled zombie, and by my second week I was back at school, I was stepping with a (one-crutched) jazz swaggers. You know, the one from that guy in school who never seems to be on the same beat as the miserable world around him. The guy always seems to jamming to smooth jazz on his own little rainbow walkway with a magic pixie whispering mischief into his ear. Yeah. I think I want to be that guy. I want to be him a lot.
Oh, that’s right, you’re probably wondering about the birds. Well, the twins ended up flying off into the world, ready to make their own mark on the worm markets. Or maybe some tree real estate. Anyhow, the mother took a vacation for about a week, before starting the process all over. One of her friends moved in with another nest, though she got burgled a few days later by a group of rowdy vultures. How beautiful the circle of life is.
So, why did I write this story? Well, in all honesty, I feel that I accomplished something. And that feeling gave me the resolve I needed to finally live to win (‘til you die, ‘til the light dies in your eyes). And while you don’t need to have your hip yanked out, I think we all just need that kick in the pants to live to win (take it all, just keep fighting ‘til you fall). And if I inspire just one person to win life day by day, (kickin’ all the way, I’m not cavin’ in) I would like that. I would like that a lot.
Written and Illustrated by Dani Hove