Showing posts from January, 2015


Cake is a movie about a woman who lives with chronic pain.  Claire, played by Jennifer Aniston, has the kind of pain that makes it difficult to move and difficult to be polite. She is cranky and bitchy and incredibly honest. She is also dealing with a great deal of emotional pain, although it takes most of the movie to find out why (actually, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what happened way ahead of the dénouement). One of the ways she “deals” with that is by popping pills and drinking quite a lot. Claire alienates everyone around her, getting kicked out of her pain support group, is fired by her physiotherapist, and is in the final stages of a divorce. Her only support and friend is her maid Silvana (a wonderful Adriana Barraza). The movie is about Claire finding a way through the pain. She’s also trying to find a way through the suicide of a fellow member of the pain support group and in the process, figuring out whether she wants to live wi

Preparing for a Hip Replacement: What They Don’t Tell You

Helping my mother through her hip replacement has come with a rather sharp realization. Among all the information and training they give you – and they do give you a lot — there are a number of things they don’t tell you. Crucial things. Things you need to know to make your recovery from a joint replacement much easier and less stressful.  To wit: Have an Advocate . Whether it’s from the aftereffects of the anaesthetic, coping with the post-op pain, or the opioid -induced fog, chances are your brain won’t work very well for the first several days after the surgery. Somehow, the medical staff don’t seem to be aware of this, throwing an intense amount of information at you, while expecting you to make the arrangements surrounding discharge planning and aftercare. Designate an advocate. This should be someone you trust, who knows you well, and who has no problem being assertive with medical professionals. If you don’t have someone who can do this, get in touch with the

Becoming Bionic

When I was 16, I had both my hips replaced. When I talk about it, I usually focus on the way they liberated me from more than two years of lying in a hospital bed.   They enabled me to sit in a power wheelchair and to go home. I don’t talk about the six months from the first replacement to the day I went home or much about the two years before that. I’ve been revisiting that time in the past week, prompted by my mother’s hip replacement last week. She’s doing remarkably well, considering the circumstances, and will likely come home today. It’s been an odd week. Superimposed on my mother’s experiences has been memories of my own. Juvenile arthritis is the obvious culprit for triggering the need for my hip replacements, but accelerating that need was a body cast they put me in when I was 14. The rationale for the body cast was that giving my hips some rest from the flare might make everything better. After a two week reprieve to go on vacation, I spent a month in