A Knee Joint Replacement (2)

I have no idea about the type of mood I’ll be in, but whatever, drawing or writing, or both, I’ll use the time at the hospital to the utmost.

Now then, as soon as I settled down at the second floor bed station waiting for the nurse to show me my bed, B phoned me. She was emotionally upset about the fire at Notre Dame in Paris. It’s absolutely tragic that some of the famous 13th century glass windows had been destroyed together with the wooden tower.

Of course one thinks of an act of malice, terror, or the negligence and stupidity of people, who were busy with ongoing renovations and as such had access to the church. People who are careless and not supervised will cause a fire, or not? But to burn hardwood means quite an incendiary device to start a fire at the ancient palisander wood construction of the roof. If there had not been such a blaze since nearly nine hundred years, this is the more hard to swallow that it happened in 2019, when the city of Paris has been in turmoil through violent protests by the ‘Yellow Vests’. Does that play as well into this tragedy? Are people who destroy shops in the Champs Elyssee also capable of supporting attacks on main cultural symbolic landmarks in Paris? Who are these people?

Man destroys the planet in so many ways, and the fight against trashing global resources with fires to culturally important buildings and treasures, will be a topmost insult to already severe injuries caused to nature. What’s going on? I also believe that the left revolution has petered out into the misuse of democratic ideas. As we are lacking good basic leadership and foster demonstrations for civil rights, we also encourage the dark, sinister elements of this world to hijack these demonstrations. Not so? Between Putin’s hard course and Macron’s softness there’s no person for the middle path found yet.

At 12:30 lunch was served. After some wholesome food Dr S came to see me. She was charming as always and told me that a woman patient will be operated on before it’ll be my turn. OK. Yes, I acknowledged it. I took my watercolour paper and started drawing something out of the blue. Immediacy of a creative action is magical, with the inner powers that lead the fingers that hold the fine pen 1511 Faber-Castell. It reminds me of Ferdi, also a Castell, a count, friend, a colleague of mine in an architectural office in South Africa. We had a fine time designing together, yet he had to go through different times and experiences, be it family or career, than me. The last time I spoke to him, he worked in an architectural office in central Germany. I wonder how he is getting on?

Lying in my hospital bed having washed thoroughly, disinfected nasal openings and the mouth, I fell into a slight slumber, but woke when the nurse administered some liquid food into my vein’s access port; a plastic device with a sharp thin metallic needle and a tube that feels rather cumbersome to look after, as it is elongated and pulls at the needle if not cared for adequately. Suddenly Dr S appeared. She asked me if I objected to the operation done by her colleague, also an experienced surgeon, but she would be as well present, only he would do the work. Yes, I agreed, although she also said that I may say no. No big deal I thought, but I still had to be assured and said to her “as long as you are present!” She smiled. “Sure”, she looked at me a few seconds and then left murmuring “he will be happy to get another operation done for his operation records”. Now then, I thought, why would be such a change happening on the same day, and why could I still say no? I did not entertain more thoughts about it, as Dr S would be present, and that’s all what counted for me. Besides I trust her.

Maybe she’s superstitious being the 17th day of the month and it would be the third time she’d operate on me. OK. Possible, but also it might be accidentally so. Are there any accidental happenings at all? We are all influenced by the powers of the universe, being material from it. If we are in tune with the universe, we are in balance, physically and mentally. However, I felt in good balance and I am waiting for my turn to be operated on. The universe is smiling upon me.

I washed carefully in the morning and waited for my turn. But I already knew from Dr S that I was to be operated on later this morning. I had to learn being patient during my lifetime working as an architect in South Africa. I watched TV. The nurse had prepared me already at seven am. Time went by and finally I was wheeled off by Thomas, who reminded me of the ferryman in Greek mythology, to the lift reserved for bed transport. We arrived a floor lower at the operating suite, I knew from my last two operations. Well then, here again I had to wait my turn. There were about four beds with patients, three women and myself. Dr S appeared with her male colleague, Dr K, and we joked about my medical experiences mentioning my friend Mr E, who had been trained in Rochester N.Y. I didn’t know why I was mentioning this again to her colleague. However, it seemed that I had to talk my pre-op tension off, and when it came to medical matters Dr E would reappear on my mind’s eye like a ship on a radar screen. Then the anesthetist appeared, placed my right hand out onto a side arm and put me to sleep.

When I came around again, I noticed that it was more difficult to stay awake as last time. I recalled though that the nurse told me that an urologist had been here and he had been asked for by Dr S to place a catheter to my bladder, as I would therefore have more ease with urinating for a few days. Then I became aware that my leg had not been placed into a soft u-tube holder for my operated knee. The nurse said it had been forgotten. Well now, I thought how come. Definitely not. However, I disciplined myself to keep my operated knee joint and leg in line with and stretched out as requested by the medical assistant. However, in the morning – I could not wait for dawn to arrive – I noticed blood out of the catheter and I was naturally alarmed. The duty nurse appeared and told me that the urological helper had a problem setting up the catheter properly. “Do you let me bleed to death?” I asked her. “No”, she said “these things happen”. She looked at me feeling uncomfortable. However I couldn’t blame her. She had been sent as a messenger to calm me down.

“OK, I was concerned”, I replied “as urine is yellow and blood is red.” She looked lost. “You are right”, she replied “unfortunately at times this can happen.” OK, I thought, it would have been nice if the person responsible would have apologized. “Well, the urologist was here and checked it out,” my bed neighbour intercepted. “It has to be flushed out”, the nurse said. “As long as the urologist assures me that I was not seriously hurt”, I replied. “Yes”, she said it’ll be healing quite quickly.” OK. I still was concerned, but as long I was assured that I had no permanent damage, I was satisfied. Well, I thought, I’ll have to wait for my first erection, then I’ll know. Furthermore, my ejaculation mustn’t be painful like my first conscious urination after the incident. With such thoughts passing I fell into half-slumber again.

As I woke and pondered happenings I could recall, I had a funny tale-conversation with my fellow patient at the three bed room, who had the bed next to the window. As an engineer, he was well educated and I asked him about his amputated leg. “It was due to heavy diabetes”, he said. Besides the trauma as his leg disintegrated and started rotting, as he refused at the beginning to have it done. But then he did not hesitate any longer to have the amputation. However, as the prosthesis had been fitted, he lost balance one day and fell to the ground in such an unfortunate way that he cracked his pelvis, and had to be operated on to fasten his bones and stabilize him again to be able to be refitted with a prosthesis.

The good looking physiotherapist appeared. I recalled her from my stay last year, when my hip joint had been done. She immediately asked me if I was ready for a first walking lesson, once she had been finished with my neighbour Mr N. Sure, I said and walked with my crutches alongside of her listening to her explanations how I should progress with my first steps. It was easy. She handed me a brochure with exercises, I put aside for the time being. I started to walk with my crutches and I began enjoying these first walking exercises. We walked almost the entire passage of the ward. Now and then we mused about a joke, she recalled from a Hungarian speaking patient. I must say that I was keen to walk having a better chance of getting out of bed sooner. But at least as soon as possible.

After the first therapy session I lay down and started a drawing, called ‘Fun’. I had done one drawing already on the first day of my stay, called ‘Amour’, about unrequited love, to my own poetry I conceived earlier. The second night was slightly better than the first one. My coccyx hurt and I had to pull myself up, with the help of an overhead pulley, time and again to keep my legs stretched. I had accepted that the healing process entailed lots of discomfort and at times also pain. However, the pains were manageable and I could move the senses sideways through my tickled creativity, which I made use of entirely. I could smell again the food for lunch wheeled into the passage on the trolleys. Time passed quickly when I was working on a drawing that was inspired by one of my poems.

My spouse phoned me and told me about her excursions into town. Since I had given her the tip for the best roast beef in town, she was hooked on to it, yet she still drifted into phases of cursing me for playing word games with her, but all I did was correcting her syntax and the choice of her words. After all it was she who set me up for this road, becoming interested in languages and the correct use of words to enable proper expressions. I had to laugh – but only inside as not to offend her further – and yet as life had taught me patience, I was always listening to her as long as possible. Well then, she told me about shopping ‘manzo arosto al’inglese’. The man who was friendly and provided a superb service, was called Leonardo. Of course I knew him and I had passed my findings to her, knowing well that there would be no argument between us about him and his products he offered for sale. “He served me with charm and attention”, she cooed. I was glad. Finally there would be some additional equilibrium reached, between our individual lifestyles with the aid of an additional common interest, I mused: Food from a selected place.

At another time B told me that she’ll make an effort finding a venue for an exhibition of my art, but not at a gallery, instead in a place of assembly and social interchange. She came across a venue that would do justice to my art: The recently christened super boat, ‘The Seven Seas Explorer’, celebrated in Monte Carlo. I agreed, but there would be much more work to be done to find the respective contact person. But that I would have to do on my laptop at home searching the Internet. I made a mental note.

I continued with my artwork on A4 size watercolour paper, fitted in between walking exercises, our regular meal times, and the attention of hospital stuff for our medical routine, into the rhythm of my day. Most of my drawings were basic designs and sketches, which I would extend upon and render them at a later stage. 

The physiotherapist brought a ‘Schiene’ – an electrified rail machine that stretched the operated leg within a set time and to a desired degree of bend. One should reach a bend of 90 degrees before leaving the clinic, I was told by the dusky medical assistent.

On the third day after my operation Dr K, the second surgeon on Dr S’s team, visited me late morning checking my progress. We talked about general matters, while he looked at my wound and seemed satisfied. “A bit of pain is well worth to be endured for a successful operation of this nature?” He asked me and I agreed. He probably referred to my ordeal with the unfortunate set-up of the catheter and the pain in the coccyx having to lie in bed in a supine position. “Yes”, I agreed. He was a strong man in his thirties, with a healthy tan and a realistic approach, a full-bloodied professional surgeon. I liked him immediately and my original gut feel when I met him for the first time at the operating room, had been verified.

Late afternoon I felt a bit tired and the laboratory had reported about too much blood loss. The next morning at the ward doctor’s visit, I was prescribed one unit of blood. To add insult to injury, the medical assistant had difficulties of establishing a new port of entry to my vein and had to use additionally my right arm. I thought of the surgeon, Dr K, and his words of enduring pain and I endured with a positive mind. But then all seemed to run well. The dusky medical assistant appeared, placed my leg into the rail adjustment machine and set it to 90 degrees for an hour of exercises. This was an extensive medical care on Saturday. Fortunately I could fall back on the overhead TV set and find an interesting educational program about the earth. This was a great diversion to cope with it all.

I had already used up all of my watercolour paper except for one. The last one I would use to inspire me for a base drawing from a love poem I had written for my Muse, who had transported me from a world of an artist beaten down from arthrosis, to the free flight of mind in a new mobile body. How wonderful! I did not have to tell her that, she knew from my first work of art I had handed her as a present. Now there’ll be some more to follow as a surprise. I felt that all my Muses in art agreed that this bionic artist with blessings of a new life for celebrations in art had been blessed by the circle of Muses in a fleet footed dance again, celebrating his new found life creating genuine art.

The day ended with two newcomers being wheeled into my room on Friday afternoon. A young man of Czech origin who had a scooter accident and a journalist, whose big toe had been rolled over by a car that also pushed him to the floor. Immediately I took a liking to Johnny, the journalist, a man who spoke well-groomed English and also some other languages. He could act as a translator to the nurses, who cared for the Czech youngster, as Johnny also spoke Czech and Slovak. Besides as we carried on communicating and as he had seen many parts of the world, also South Africa, we had a lively exchange of memories. I showed him my drawings and he commented on one of my drawings positively. Son his wife appeared and Johnny asked me to show her my work, as she appreciated art. She lauded my work, especially the non-geometrical ones. I handed her my calling card. As Johnny left the clinic Sunday morning together with the young man following shortly after him, I had the room for myself. Finally I could snooze off undisturbed into the quaint atmosphere, albeit the distant murmur of the ward staff rushing about the passage outside, whenever I wished. I started to relax finally.

With the main entrance door to my room left open, I had visual and audial contact with the main hall of the nurses unit of this section at the ‘Accident surgery’, where I was treated. Suddenly Dr S appeared and entered the room, smiling when she saw me resting in my bed. We shook hands and she inspected my knee. Immediately we continued our conversation we had started two years earlier, when she had operated on my hip joints. Besides having done a sterling job, she was always friendly and accessible for any discussion. We also talked about some events during my operation and then we drifted to art. I felt honoured the way she appreciated my work, and then showed her my new drawings I had done during my hospital stay. She said that she was delighted to have an artist here in this ward. We talked about Dr K and as he had no private practice, he was delighted to have had the opportunity to do my operation. Besides it was difficult for him to reach the required number of operations required by the hospital board. She had assisted him and could assure me that he did an excellent job. Then again as she started to turn and walk a few steps away, she turned and she came back again and opened her pocket diary and gave me a date at the end of April. I watched her as she walked out the elongated room where I lay in the middle bed. At the open doorway she turned and smiled. It was that smile I remembered her by, somewhat in the know about me – of course she knew me well – and somewhat a bond of soulmates who would be equal in mind and soul.  

However, I enjoy thoroughly every meeting with her, recalling all the meetings we ever had, as she examined my walking about in front of her. How did Dr S see me? I wondered, only as a patient, or also as a man?

After her visit she had inspired me again. Now it had come to another surprise I wanted to please her with. A portrait. This time closer to reality? I don’t know yet, but in a month or two I will, when I’ll review my work and decide the drawing I wish to present to her.

For the artist, like for all sensitive human beings, the laws of casualty exist. But the artist shows his innermost reactions and depicts hidden processes of other consciousness levels. At times this’ll exhaust the artist in a process of spiritual blood-letting. Then thanks to his Muse he’ll receive a portion or two of fresh blood of regenerative nurturing, his body revived through the rich oxygen of a rising holistic triad of body, soul, and spirit. If one is lucky, one will receive this gift of gifts. “Draw, draw…” I heard my inner voice stirring me to act.

“Now then, my Muse had a hand in it”, the poet murmured while listening to a man mentioning the poet’s efforts and then setting out on a monologue, a man with a preaching talent. As it turned out he was a member of a religious sect of JW, or Jehovas Witnesses. The poet in me listened to the man, whose obvious mission was to convert anybody to join his religious sect. I was well aware of the organization and kept a polite but resolute distance to it, but I discussed some salient matters of existence with him. I don’t know if he could step beyond the point of his dogmatic views and understand the artist’s viewpoint, or if he thought of pursuing a method of converting me step by step? Besides tomorrow I would be on my way to my life in my individual lifestyle and looking forward to it. Finally back to the small place of a room I called my workshop, but I loved its serenity and the white wall in front of my writing desk, with colourful examples of my creative work. A place where I’ll be re-inspired time and again.

The man with the one book was on to me again. I wondered about his tenacity. Did he actually believe in what he was preaching? I’ll be only listening as not to place oil on his argumentative style, with a Bible translated by his organization, just as the dictionary of history relating to the Bible, he offered to download onto my handy.

Well, the poet agreed with certain passages of the Bible’s wisdom, the man with the one book cited, but the artist had during 79 years of his life developed his own set ways in philosophy, art, and poetry, and he still searches, absorbs, and develops his techniques of expressing his art. Creativity is a never ending process.

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