On Monday, December 4, 2017 my right knee went missing. It had provided 63 years of walking, hiking, skiing, whatevering and it was not functioning as it should because of damage caused by a fall and by illness. The knee was replaced with a modern medical miracle, one that has become so hohum that you probably know at least five people who have had knee replacements.
It really helped to talk to all those people prior to my surgery, to hear their advice and learn of tricks they used. The one thing I heard over and over and over was “do the exercises”. One other comment, made quietly, also was handy, “You will not always get to the bathroom on time.”
When I’ve gone through SOMETHING, whether it is a physical activity like this surgery, or an emotional voyage, like a divorce, it can be very helpful to hear first person experiences. It has let me know that what I was feeling was pretty typical….or not.
It was during one of those discussions with a friend that the idea of an allergy to the implant hit me! I can’t wear pierced earrings of any kind. Sterling silver, 24k gold, surgical steel, platinum, titanium, even plastic coated, all have caused my ears to start itching and I end up removing the earrings within 15 minutes. So, I read and then I talked to the surgeon at the pre-op appointment and I am wearing low-nickel metal with ceramic and plastic pieces. All fingers and toes crossed.
The first few days after the surgery was spent discovering that the pain meds and I do not get along. This experience made it very clear to me just how different our body chemistries are. I was nauseated and just felt overall horrible. I had none of the “highs” users addicted to oxycontin enjoy. They obviously do not experience all the “yuks” I had or they would move on to some other drug of choice. (This lightbulb moment made me realize that “addiction” is a horrible thing and we need a multi-prong attack to help people get off the drugs but also help them learn coping mechanisms for the issues in life that have made them (all of us to some extent) reach for help after a hard day.)
Once we moved me down a notch in the pain medical pharmacopeia, my overall body feelings were healthier and I could get on with the business of healing.
One thing that has made this experience easier is the time people have taken to drive me to my appointments (Graham can’t drive because he is legally blind), take him to the grocery store, run to the drug store for the replacement pain medicine, and just those who stop in for a few minutes with a smile to help distract me from focusing on the knee which is yelling “OW” most of the time.
And then, there is the physical therapist. Most knee patients have love-hate relationships with the love coming much later in the time table. Mine earned it on Day One when he exclaimed enthusiastically how well I was doing. He was so effusive that I started tearing up. “No,” he said, “It’s good, really!”
So, I explained. Anyone who knows me knows “body perfect” is not now nor has ever been a goal of mine. I try to eat healthy food and not overindulge with the “fun” things but taking the time others do to firm up and have their body parts move better has not been my thing.
Here I am, 63-years-old, and this is the SECOND time in my life where I experienced BODY PRIDE. The first was after my first baby was born and I was able to nurse him. The idea that this body had produced that miracle and could sustain it nutritionally. Amazingly powerful feeling.
And now, in pain and hobbling, I am ahead of benchmarks. Me….the “couch potato” (well, maybe desk sitter is more like it).
Altogether, the friends giving their time and sharing their good wishes and this professional who sees a lot of people like me are my cheerleaders. They have assumed the role to help me get better. And while their time investment may only 30 minutes or a couple of hours a week, they are a component in my healing that will no doubt get me to the finish line easier.
So, thank you, each of you, who send a joke, a funny picture, a phone call, a visit, a drive in the car. To all of you who are my cheerleaders, I salute you.