Surgery, Recovery: Beach, Beverly Hills, Beyond Or, How Can We All Be Here?

18 Nov

IMG_1330 Santa Monica hospitals are a little different than those in Syracuse–where I had my first hip replacement. In Santa Monica, there’s  sand in the elevator, an omnipresent vapor of cotton candy, and staff surf boards  are stacked behind the nurses’ desk.

OK, a little exaggeration, but this is for real:  my hospital view was blue sky, palm trees, and a medical marijuana stall a block away. And, while I never saw his board,  my surgeon is a life-long surfer.  He has a tattoo around his healthy bicep. He wears cowboy boots during surgery. This  alarmed me briefly, but I was being wheeled into the operating room when I noticed, anesthesia coursing through my veins.  I had one second to consider the implications of the boots before disappearing into the land of Nod, Drool,  and Oblivious–to what doctors and nurses say while they saw into a naked, spread-legged body.

Regardless of the boots or what the medical staff had to say about my middle-aged parts, I came out alive–with a Frankenstein-y stitch on my left hip, and my son at my right hip,  holding my hand and smiling. How can we both be here?,  I thought, in my morphine-drip state of mind. Not clear what the question was asking exactly, but it seemed miraculous that I’d had surgery in  a place with enormous succulents in pots, and that when I woke up Noah was looking at me, wearing salmon-colored pants and a tan. Sober and twinkle eyed, worried and joking. Noah.

FLASH FORWARD: My questions continue as I recuperate at the apartment of two people I knew in Urbana, Illinois in 1977.  Natasha and Markus took me in for five days after I left the hospital. One paradise to another!


How can we all be here?  I kept asking.  Of course I marvel at that often, but something about living with these people I knew so long ago– waking up, eating, sitting around being witty and dull  with them for almost a week made our adult friendship seem particularly strange and miraculous. Especially when Markus gave me an abdominal massage during a period of. . . let’s just call it writer’s block. (It has less to do with writing and more to do with prescription pain-killing.)

Don’t get the wrong idea–Natasha’s daughter Kalliope was on the bed texting  while this massage took place, and Natasha was in the next room whirring up a smoothie for that writer’s block.


The only weird thing about it was that in high school I really didn’t give Markus the time of day and here I was three decades later reaping the benefits of his fingertips on my swollen abdomen. Whoddathunk it?

Markus! Duh.

It worked, by the way. So then I was ravenous and we all ate many of the delicious treats that friends sent–THANK YOU!!  And then I sat in the sun and reflected on my fourth surgery in two and a half years. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. But every time a man takes out a knife in order to rearrange one’s pelvis or digestive tract (last spring: ruptured appendix and  resulting infection), a girl just gets thinkin’, ya know?

IMG_1324(1) Where is it that we all are….?  Well,  I gave up on this contemplative strain pretty quickly when some gossip came in through our grape vine about the man, referred to in earlier blogs as “the genius” (which he is). He is also an Urbana person, and once upon a year and a half ago, we were going to move  to L.A. together.

While I was having surgery, Natasha and Markus had heard from him that his  life had recently changed dramatically, not exactly for the better, though it will be in the long run. I was intrigued and couldn’t stop thinking about him. Until I could.

IMG_1323(1)(Two healing bracelets given to me by my stepmother and my former babysitter and friend –ANOTHER URBANA PERSON in L.A.)

I had plans to make. I had just gotten a small gig as a floral arranger (kid you not), and was going to do some P.R. for my juicery! New chapters. New hip, new life. Too bad I can’t move like a normal person. The visiting nurse said “You walk weird.” I wanted to tell her she talked weird but she is Persian and Persian women, I’ve learned, living in Beverly Hills, rule the earth.  They are classy, cool, and have a  catastrophic view of the world. I wasn’t surprised when Marjan the nurse said “You may never walk without a limp.”  Like the metaphor of  that statement hasn’t been spooling in my head for years before surgery.

Friday, Noah pulled up in the trusty Prius and drove me two blocks to my apartment. We ate Indian food and strangely, miraculously watched Dick Cavett’s  interview with Marlon Brando.  We couldn’t get over how compelling Brando was. And he reminded both of us of my dad at his best–gorgeous, charismatic, deluded, obsessively  concerned with the under-privileged. Wearing an ascot. Then Noah drove home and rehearsed his new song. I didn’t sleep all night. Withdrawal from the painkiller, and worry that I would always walk weird.

Among other things.

Every day since, I’ve felt stronger and easier with the new hip. Today my former babysitter visited and we ate at Urth Cafe, just down the block. Her best friend died of cancer last week. If all we have to fear is walking weird… blessed are we. I marvel that we can all be here.
Thank you to everyone who supported me during this– whether with  a card, gift, or thought.  I felt your concern and love!

Here’s special appreciation to Duncan, my guard dog. Hard to see there with the paper and pillows, but he crept down from the master bedroom to sleep on the couch next to my bed. He doesn’t even like me. IMG_1329(1)Duncan is a force in all of us–the “gotta do this” dog. He snored a tiny dog snore. He was irritated in the middle of the night when I got up to pee and  made noise looking for my cane. Little glassy black  eyes rolled at me.

We are all here, is what I heard.


5 Responses to “Surgery, Recovery: Beach, Beverly Hills, Beyond Or, How Can We All Be Here?”

  1. a.guy November 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    God it always comes back to the body! And you make me wonder what it says of me that this can still come as a revelation, which it does again today. I am thankful for your discomfited dog. And that you are healing up well.


  2. elainemansfield November 18, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Wow, Kirsten. Just read the previous blog and you already had the surgery. My good friend went through this–both hips at the same time–and with the help of physical therapy and Pilates, she’s as graceful as ever. You’ll be, too.I watched her fight for her body with tenacity, refusing to stop until she had flexibility and movement back. Made me weep to know you woke up with Noah at your side and all that wonder. Love the hospital and doctor stories including the pessimistic Persian. Grateful you are surrounded by supportive friends who don’t wither at the side effects of pain killers–juice and massage. It worked! Sending you love, healing, and hopes for many coming years with no surgery. I miss writing with you. Be well, heal quickly, write more.


    • kwasson2012 November 18, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      Thank you so much, Elaine for the appreciative and encouraging thoughts!!



  3. zoejorandall November 18, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    Glad to hear you’re recovering well and are well cared for. I’ve been waiting to give you your gift too – a sponge and a bath bomb so that the recoveree could sponge bathe in her rest bed! Keep up the good work on healing. I just pinched my arm to remind myself that I’m still here too.


  4. nic November 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    So glad you are in my life and glad the green juice helped to alleviate the writers block! Keep writing, I’m addicted to your blog, and I need my fix more often!


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