WeihnachtsgeschenkI’ve been like a kid waiting for Christmas, and its finally here. After months of pain and canes and crutches, my place in the surgical waiting line finally comes up this afternoon, and I get to trade in the wrecked version of my right hip for a spanking new cobalt chrome and highly-cross-linked polyethylene model.

I’ve been fantasizing for weeks about standing up straight on legs the same length, about racing my students up the stairs, about getting back on the hiking trails, about mowing my own lawn, about sitting in a regular chair … about sleeping more than an hour at the time.

Such thoughts have me feeling very grateful that such parts can be replaced. Over the past months, I can’t count how many people have told me about their new hips or knees, or both. Fifty years ago, we’d all have been crippled for life, relegated to bed or a wheel chair, with little hope of improvement.

The same thoughts leave me prayerful for those who live in places where advanced medical care is not available, or for those whose diseased or broken body parts don’t have ready replacements.

It seems to me, in fact, that compassion should always be the flip side of gratitude. When I’m walking tall again, I hope I don’t forget that.


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