June 25th, of 2O12, I had my right hip replaced with a titanium one. As I write this, I'm still in the hospital and feeling the pain of the surgery. My right ass cheek where the incision was made is dark purple and I keep oozing blood. They gave me a blood transfusion yesterday. Apparently these are rather common things for this surgery when done on younger patients. Most total hip replacements are done on people at least 10-20 years older than me.

It's a frustrating thing, what with the considerable pain and that I'm having to learn how to walk again. I've been dealing with extreme discomfort for a year, however, and am glad to be able to get the surgery done. My hip was, as the doctor put it, "a square peg in a round hole." There was a piece of bone and cartilage broken off and "floating" in the space around my dissolving ball joint. This could explain why it hurt so damned much! I've always prided myself on being active, including on stage. Walking with a cane and having to sit down at shows has been a bit of a drag. Now I'm using a walker, but will graduate to crutches, then back to the cane, and in a matter of months I should be active again, taking my long walks and standing when I perform. I sure as hell look forward to it!

I've received the most comprehensive medical care from the staff surrounding my surgeon here at Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire. He and his associates and nurses have gone above and beyond. Anything that showed up in tests before and after the surgery, they're handling, even if it has no apparent relationship to my hip. They treat my overall health as part and parcel to the immediate health problem being focused on. The stronger my body is, the sooner and more effectively I heal and the longer I stay healthy. There's a clear protocol to their approach. I also don't have to give the same health history lesson to each doctor, nurse, reverend, or social worker that comes to my room... and yes, all of the above have dropped in. I feel like I'm holding court, ha. The nurses give complete updates to each other in my room during shift change, comparing notes and asking me if everything sounds accurate or if I have anything to add. Every morning my surgeon comes into my room to share any new information and ideas for my overall recovery, to check on my status and give me a true sense of things, and to make sure I'm fully educated about every aspect of what I'm dealing with and how it's proceeding. This way, he and I can work together toward speedy healing and long term prevention of future problems.

Regardless of my not having insurance of any kind or the means to pay the upcoming bill for this expensive procedure, I receive the same care as anyone else. They've already begun helping me apply for various aid to cover some of the tab and are arranging for me to take home some free home health supplies and two weeks of free meds for my convalescence. Most patients who undergo this procedure would be going to another facility from here to continue their recovery and receive on-going physical therapy. I don't have the means, so my wife is setting up our apartment in preparation for my return in a couple days. Fortunately, in a matter of months, my new hip will be warmed up to my body and I'll no longer need a walker, crutches or cane. It only gets better from here!

I'll be out of work for another few weeks. Between loving what I do and the fact that I don't get paid leave, I sure look forward to getting back to work. Plus, I get a little nutty when I'm laid up for any reason for any length of time, ha. No work and all lying around makes Phil a crazy boy.

An online fundraiser has been set up to help me cover a portion of my hospital bill and meet some living expenses, in case anyone is interested in an opportunity to give.

The link is below and any amount is sure appreciated! There's also more information about my condition there.

Peace, love and music!

And thanks for always being supportive of music and the arts!

-Phil

www.indiegogo.com/philcircle

UPDATE AS OF JULY 2nd:

I came home Friday and Megan had the apartment set up for my home rehabilitation... rails on the toilet, seat in the shower, lots of pillows to set up the couch comfortably. Makes me feel like an old man, but also a man whose wife loves him and looks after him. It's tricky doing anything when I have to use a walker and therefore have no free hands, but I'm learning all kinds of ways to get stuff done, including asking my wife, ha. And she's been enjoying changing my bandage (she always wanted to be a vet), and reciting the story from the hospital when she watched the surgical nurse showing the attending nurses how to clean the wound and change the bandage the best way. As she puts it, "I'm sitting there watching three women staring intently at my husband's ass."

I've been doing all my physical therapy and taking all my supplements, eating well (my appetite was non existent before the surgery from the constant pain), taking my pain killers, reading, sleeping, watching the t.v., working on the computer, talking to friends online and on the phone, and generally trying to get my mind and body ready to go back to work. My entire right side is one big bruise, which I'm told is good. It means that the blood from the area around my hip that was finding its way out through the suture onto my bed sheets at the hospital is now draining into my leg, where the body will reabsorb it. I'll be on blood thinners and pain killers for a month or so until things are generally healed. After that, I still have to be careful not to jog the hip loose by being too active. I'm told I should give it 3-4 months before I consider it ready for stage dives.

It's a slow and painful process, frustrating too, but I keep hearing from fellow musicians and friends who've been through this or know someone who has and the consensus is that it's worth all the trouble, because it ultimately ends what would have been non stop pain and continued decay of the hip bone. I'm glad I did this and thank everyone who has been so supportive during this time. Time to do some more physical therapy and take a pain pill, so I'll look forward to seeing some folks at my up coming shows... I'll still be sitting down, though, ha.

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