I did NOT:
Appear on America’s Got Talent.
Plant a summer garden and thrill my neighbors and friends with overstuffed sacks of homegrown tomatoes.
Learn to swim. Again.
Organize my I-photo album which is not so much an album as a series of files (folders?) with only one picture in each.
Host a “Fabulous Fourth!” patio party with loads of friends, food, fun . . . and FIREWORKS!
Think of something – ANYTHING – to do to celebrate OUR upcoming 35th wedding anniversary.
Surrender my life to full-time Christian service and begin my training for missionary work in Liberia.
Write one interesting word for the last seven weeks.
Get a new knee.
Learn to hate, then endure, then appreciate, then become slightly addicted to physical therapy.
Ride the emotional roller coaster that is post-operative life. Narcotics (the good, the bad and the ugly), “assistive devices” including a walker, a potty chair, a CPM (controlled passive motion machine) which was labeled. . . LEGASUS?!, fragrantly beautiful flowers and thoughtful get well cards, delicious dinners and desserts brought in by friends who were nice enough to listen to my “homebound lady rant” and . . . tears. Puddles of UGLY CRY NOBODY HAS EVER HURT THIS BAD kind of tears. I haven’t cried this much since the first time I saw THE WAY WE WERE in 1974. ”You’re girl is lovely, Hubble” would have literally pushed me over the edge during my “recuperation”. Good thing I couldn’t walk to the edge . . .
My lowest point came on week two of my recovery. It was a Monday night. My BFF of 40 years had gone back to Texas and left my husband and me to face the grim reality that I was the WORST PATIENT THAT EVER LIVED. These are my words, not his. He just rolled his eyes from time to time and told me to “Bend that knee! They told you you HAD to BEND THAT KNEE!” as I hobbled, defiant and Chester-from-Gunsmoke like out of earshot. I hated my husband. I hated my surgeon most of all. I hated myself for falling for this whole “young people like yourself are getting joint replacements all the time” line. Young?! HA!
Fighting back tears with my best I AM FINE! face, I hobbled back into the living room to do my *floor exercises. (*Not to be confused AT ALL with the graceful gravity-defying movements of young Olympic gymnasts.) My long-suffering husband helped me to the yoga mat and fluffed the pillow under my weary drug-addled head. The TV was tuned to NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams’ soothing voice gave me some inexplicable comfort and focus. (oxycodone, I’m just sayin’ . . .)
My goal was to lift my “injured” left leg off the floor. Until it was level with my bent right knee and hold it there for 2 – TWO – seconds. Slowly lower to starting position. (see attached illustration – Straight Leg Raise) For the first time since surgery. Without any assistance.
LSH (Long-Suffering Husband) stood over my pathetic sweaty pajama-clad mass of human despair saying something encouraging and sweet and probably funny to boost my spirits. But all I heard was Brian Williams reporting “World War Two Hero, Fighter Pilot, Astronaut, U.S. Senator, American Hero . . . John Glenn turns 90 years old today. And he celebrates his birthday by having knee replacement surgery!”
AND I DID IT!
Oh, wouldn’t that be cool if that were true. I mean, I DID manage my first-ever Straight Leg Raise later that same week. And now I’m the Queen of the Straight Leg Raise, 2011 and other delightful *floor exercises.
I was hooked on dope at the time but I’m clean now so I’ll tell you the truth. When I heard that John Glenn was having the same surgery that I had just had and I quickly imagined how brave and tough and strong he’d be in the days and weeks after? I cried. Wailed. And not lovely Barbra Streisand crying for impossibly handsome Robert Redford crying either. U G L Y C R Y I N G. I told you it was my lowest point.
Flash forward five weeks. I have found my blog and a bit of my mojo again. Those horrible “assistive devices” are long gone. Now I sport a cool cane whose pattern was called “Summer Garden” that I have named Erica. Erica Cane. LOL! My only pain pills are Tylenol and Butterfinger Bites. I still whine and moan a lot because it still hurts and I just had my knee replaced not my character. I am on medical leave until the end of September. I miss work and my friends and playing on the floor with my grandkids but that will come.
Happy Belated Birthday, John Glenn! And bend that knee, sir, bend that KNEE!