New Knee

Rachel Garber

I don’t usually write about very personal proceedings, but this one is so preoccupying I don’t have the drive to write about anything else right now.

As of February 1st, I have a new knee. It’s made mostly of titanium, I’m told. I’m also advised to report it at security checkpoints, lest I trigger an alarm.

I’m not very special. You’d be surprised at how many bionic people are among us. Okay, let’s be more prosaic: people with a knee or hip prothesis. The Canadian Institute for Health Information has a joint replacement registry, which reports more than 51,272 hip replacement surgeries and 61,421 knee replacement surgeries were performed in Canada in 2014-2015. This is 20% more than five years earlier, whether because of better reporting or because of a higher number of surgeries, or both.

But I do count myself very fortunate. About three months after my referral, I was summoned to the Hôtel Dieu Hospital – CHUS for a group information session with the orthopedic surgeon. It was thorough. Then I filled out a detailed medical history form, and about three months later, I was summoned again for a day-long consultation with an internal medicine specialist, the surgeons, nurses with various specialties, and an occupational therapist. I was checked out from top to bottom, and was ordered a walker and other aids from the CLSC for my recovery. And then, on exactly the date predicted, my surgery was done.

The care I received was impressively professional. In general, my experience was of a careful and caring staff, from surgeon to nurses to préposés to cleaning staff. The surgeon double-checked to make sure they would operate on the correct knee, the left one in my case. I was awake throughout the surgery, and I could tell the surgical team was entirely focused on my knee. No, they were not chatting during the procedure like they do on TV! But the anesthetist checked in with me regularly, removing my earbud to talk over my music. Om Mani Padme Hum carried the day. You can find the chant on YouTube. It’s mesmerizing. The two hours flew by.

Now, I’ve worked in hospitals before, and I know how easily things can go awry. For example, a doctor visited my roommate to discuss her impending hip surgery. Oops, her problem was not a hip, but a broken shoulder from a fall on the ice. And my «calmant» was almost delivered by mistake to the same roommate. «Non, c’est pour moi!» I cried out, and the problem was solved, with apologies and explanations.

Now that I’ve mentioned préposés and calmants, let me talk about language a bit. I do speak French, but not hospital French. So when I was asked to describe my pain, I was stymied. If I’d had at hand the little Health Passport published by the Centre d’action bénévole du Haut-Saint-François, it would have been easier. But pulling a decription in French out of my hat just wasn’t happening. I was looking for «une douleur constante,» but it just wasn’t coming. Luckily, saying «5 sur 10» sufficed most of the time.

That description of pain was the little ritual leading up to receiving a «calmant,» a term that unfortunately is not included in the Health Passport. In English, the term seems akin to a pacifier for a baby. But in French, non non non! It’s a pain pill, I deduced, after a bit. My various French-English dictionaries do not lead from Tylenol or Dilaudid or any other painkiller to «calmant.» But if I look up «calmant» in French, the English says it may be a sedative. A little mystery, but my hospital French quickly grew to include this term.
Then there’s the little matter of toilet. Elsewhere in English, it’s more polite to speak of going to the bathroom or washroom. I learned long ago in Quebec to ask for la toilette or les toilettes. But now the préposée is asking me if I have «faire la toilette.» What could she mean? Ah, she means to wash up, comb my hair and brush my teeth. It has nothing to do with going to the bathroom, or faire pipi. Oops, that’s not in the Health Passport either.

Irish Night
The Eaton Corner Museum is organizing an Irish Night on Friday, March 9, at 7 p.m., at the Bulwer Community Centre, 254 Jordan Hill Road, Bulwer. Admission is $8. Info: Serena Wintle, 819-875-5210.

Flea Market
The Bury Women’s Institute is organizing a Flea Market/Craft Sale on Saturday, April 28, at the Armoury Community Centre in Bury. To rent a table for $10, contact Frances Goodwin at 819-872-3318 or Irma Chapman at 819-872-3600.

Baptist. In Sawyerville, the Sunday worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French. Info: 819-239-8818.
Anglican. Sunday services are in Bury at 9:30 a.m., and in Cookshire, at 11 a.m. On February25, the Cookshire service is in the lower level of the Trinity United Church, 190 Principale West, and on March 4, in the theatre in the Manoir d’eau vive, 210 Principale East.

Also on March 4: At 2 p.m. is a Country Gospel Hour with Dave McBurney and Friends at the St. Augustine’s Church in Danville, and at 4 p.m. is an Evensong service at the St. George’s Church in Lennoxville. Info: 819-887-6802.

United. Sunday worship services are at 9:30 a.m. in Cookshire, and at 11 a.m. in Sawyerville. Info: 819-889-2838 (listen to message).

Messy Church. Stories, crafts, singing and supper are on the agenda for the next Messy Church at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 550 Main St., Bury, on Monday, February 26, at 5:30 p.m. A joint United and Anglican intergenerational event. All are welcome. Info: Rev. Tami Spires, 819-452-3685.

Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email by February 26 for publication March 7 and by March 12 for March 21.

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