The Skin I’m In



I never take movement for granted, least of all pain-free movement.

Last year I was unable to take a step without a shock of arthritic pain blasting through my body. Daily hand-fulls of over-the-counter pain killers dulled the pain only enough to allow me to go to work and come home.

At 11, I’d had surgery for a condition called ‘slipped capital femoral epiphysis’. That’s a mouthful. Anyway, 37 years, 4 children and who knows how many pounds later, I was in trouble.

Enter the internationally noted orthopedic surgeon, James Cobey, M.D. I’d done my research. I knew of his participation in Physicians for Human Rights, and the thousands of free surgeries he’d performed in developing countries. He glanced at my x-rays and told me my prognosis: I needed hip replacement surgery. No surprise there.

I was surprised by other things. My insurance company’s wrangling over coverage and refusing to provide rehabilitation or physical therapy. So much for government employees’ Cadillac health care. I was surprised by the length of the snakelike scar which still wraps around the left side of my body. And I was surprised by the pain and the humiliation I felt while walking with crutches, then a walker, then a cane.

Almost a year later, the healing of my body and the healing of my soul are simultaneous. I started with Yoga at the local dojo. Now my visits to the gym include exercises that I could only have imagined before. A treadmill!! Me? I run and listen to my favorite music while working through the anguish of fearing that I’d never walk properly again. I run to restore my bruised ego, to achieve the body I’d always hoped for, and I run just to prove that I can.