Gather a group of educators together and we find ourselves recounting the crazy life experiences that we routinely have going at full speed – regardless of what our role is.
All my adventures came to a screeching halt in September when I had a total hip replacement (THR). After years of running, playing sports, standing (as most of us educators do), and sitting (as many of us educators and authors do too much of), my trusted hip became too tired to consider itself useful any longer. After a year of limping, it was time to part ways.
The surgery was done in the afternoon and I was home by midnight climbing the stairs. It felt amazing to see how quickly I was able to do that! My husband was given the name ‘Wifeguard’ by one of my daughters as she watched him follow me through the day to be sure I was adhering to the ‘recovery rules’ (there were many). What added to the fun of his new moniker was his usage of the phrase “Slow down Seabiscuit” when he thought I was moving too fast. By week three, I figured it was time to return to work. The only problem was that I couldn’t sit for long, stand for very long, or walk without crutches, and lifting my leg was not working altogether. As several succeeding weeks went by, the challenges to recover infringed on my return-to-life-and-work plans. So, I returned to the surgeon instead. He took note of the swelling and told me to do nothing but rest for a few more weeks. All unexpected.
So, as we all celebrate the end of 2023 and the start of a hopeful 2024, here is what I learned and am learning from the THR experience.
The journey toward health is unique to each of us.
- It’s filled with the same hiccups we experience supporting our students’ academic and social-emotional development. It’s good to remember that learning takes time and is an individual process- just as healing from THR surgery is.
- It’s good to ask for expert help- so much better than going it alone. For example, I could not figure out how to get in and out of bed. Thank goodness for the physical therapist who taught me how to lift my body with my arms instead of my legs- an act I could not have imagined doing or thought I could do on my own until he did what we all do- he modeled it, he watched me do it, and after a few tries of both, I did it!
- Friends and family bring more than good cheer, they are the glue that keeps us afloat. For example, when I asked neighbors about a walker (as I’d heard it might be easier than the ‘euro-style’ crutches I was using), a friend whom I had not seen in months dropped one off within minutes. While the walker didn’t work well for me, I didn’t know how good it would feel to lean into the care I received. As an educator, I know the value of relationships. Yet, the calls, visits, and positive interactions that I had affirmed the value of personal connections on a deeper level. It mirrored how important it is for us to partner with our students, their families and communities, and, of course, our colleagues.
Now, months later, I am walking with ease without crutches and grateful to all who helped and are helping me through the THR journey.
In February, a co-authored book I wrote with Becki Cohn-Vargas will be published by Teachers College Press. It’s titled Identity Safe Spaces at Home and School: Partnering to Overcome Inequity. We are excitedly planning podcasts and webinars. Stay tuned for these upcoming events! It is great to be back.
Wishing you a happy 2024!