The Hip Chronicles, Part III: Assistive devices

In my series, the RA Diaries, I’ve tried to write about the weird, the painful and even the comical parts of having a chronic illness. Very recently, I had what for many RA patients is a rite of passage: my first joint replacement. My new right hip, with its festive combination of titanium, cobalt and plastic polymer, is worth five times more than my car. And it will surely be a great source of amusement to TSA scanners worldwide, because on x-rays it looks like I’m packing some major heat.

Now, kind reader, let me tell you exactly how I went about getting my new hip. But be warned. It’s gonna get gross. And graphic. And, maybe once in a while, somewhat amusing. I hope you get something out of it. I’m certainly hoping I will.

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving. I was lying in bed, resting from my last bout with the walker, sipping some ice water. Then the phone rang. It was my husband.

“Did you get it?”
“I don’t know. Isn’t it supposed to arrive tomorrow?”
“According to Fedex, it was dropped on your porch at 2:30 p.m.”

Since it was almost 3:30, I sent my dad out to look. He soon came back with a box.

“It’s here! Hold on, let me open it.”

I managed to get inside the box with some assistance, and pulled out my prize.
“How is it?”
“It’s … perfect. It’s wonderful. Thanks so much for getting it for me. I love you!”

Some women see gifts like flowers, chocolates or jewelry as evidence that their partners love them. Not I, though those things are always lovely to get.
Rather, I know my husband loves me because he got me a Bottom Buddy (TM).

For those not in the know, the Bottom Buddy (TM) is a device that facilitates the cleansing of one’s nether regions after a visit to the water closet. Most of us take such ablutions for granted, but when your right thigh is three times the size of your left one, your elbows and wrists are already screwed up, and you’re under strict rule not to bend in certain ways, cleansing the downstairs is a Sisyphean task.

But no more. Thanks to this lovely invention (designed in the USA, made in Korea), keeping everything ship-shape is much easier.

I found out about the Bottom Buddy (TM) while in hospital. One of the occupational therapists (they deserve a chronicle of their own) gave me a catalogue full of such assistive devices, and the minute I saw it, I knew I must have it.

That’s the thing about getting a hip replacement — the simplest tasks now require accessories. Need to get your socks on? Try this nifty device, which looks like someone attached a jump rope to half a cast! Drop something? Try the grabber, with a crab-like claw on one end and a pistol handle on the other! Need to get your underwear on? Here’s a wooden stick with a big hook on it!

That’s in addition to the walker, the raised toilet seat, the hard-as-a-brick elevating pillow (makes every chair uncomfy!) and the shower chair.

Fortunately for me, a close relative had a hip replacement five years ago, and kept a lot of these assistive devices. But the Bottom Buddy (TM) was not one of them.

This is probably a good thing, ‘cause you know — eww.

But we had not expected the Bottom Buddy (TM) to be so elusive. My sweet spouse went to every medical supply store in town before finally giving up, cursing what a pain in the bottom this Buddy had become.

But since he loves me, he was not willing to give up. He went to the online version of that cataiogue the therapist gave me, where the device was available. But he chafed at the price. $80 for a piece of plastic? No way!

Now, did I mention he loves me? I am sure he does, because, while grumbling, he was still willing to buy that over-priced (designed in the U.S.A.!) ass-wiper for his convalescing wife.

It was one of those tests that true love occasionally has to go through.
(If my life were a dramedy, he’d be giving me a kidney. Or renting the Empire State building for a proposal. Or surgically turning himself into Johnny Depp.)

It was also one of those tests of true love that can go so awry — “Your honor, he wouldn’t buy me the Bottom Buddy (TM). That’s why he had to go.” “That’s terrible! All charges dismissed!”

But our love (and joint bank account) was not to be tested for long. Like some Internet deus ex machina, Amazon came along and saved the day by selling the Bottom Buddy (TM) for a far more acceptable $42.99 (with super-saver shipping!). And since my husband loves a good deal almost as much as he loves me, he fell upon it like a bedbug at a Macy’s furniture sale.

And for the record, he bought me roses in the hospital too.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

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