This coming Friday is graduation day for me. There won’t be any diplomas or gifts, exchanged, but the time I’ve spent has been life-changing. Friday is my last day of therapy. I’ve known …
This coming Friday is graduation day for me. There won’t be any diplomas or gifts, exchanged, but the time I’ve spent has been life-changing. Friday is my last day of therapy.
I’ve known for a few years that at least one of my knees would have to be replaced. I started with drugs, but my stomach does not play well with anti-inflammatory meds. The knee doc gave me shots with needles the size of kindergarten pencils. They used steroids and a type of viscous material that offered some temporary relief for knees that were bone on bone.
Earlier this year, it became painfully clear that I’d have to put my big-boy undies on and have my left knee replaced.
My niece Samantha is a physical therapy assistant who knows her stuff. She sat me down, and we had “the talk.” I’ve given her those “talks” since she was in diapers. I can’t help but believe that she got satisfaction on some level from telling me what I had to do to make my knee better. To her credit, she didn’t giggle, smile, or say, “You’re going to get it, mister. Payback is going to be brutal.”
She recommended a doctor based on the results she had seen in his patients coming through her facility. I made the appointment for the consultation. He didn’t sugar-coat the procedure. Jilda and I were both impressed with the doctor and his staff. Getting my surgery scheduled was a matter of clearing time on my calendar.
Several weeks before surgery, my niece put me on a pre-therapy routine. This helped to build strength in the areas that would be affected by the knife, saw, and mallet.
A few hours after surgery, a physical therapist had me up walking around the hospital halls. I went home the next day. The following day, Jilda drove me to where Samantha works to get started with therapy.
Those first few sessions were not fun for me although I thought my niece seemed to have a mirthful look on her face at times. But maybe that was just my imagination.
Doing yoga with my lovely spouse was also helpful before and after surgery. Whenever the pain seemed unbearable, I could hear Jilda’s voice saying, “Acknowledge the pain and breathe.” I learned that the technique worked for me.
My recovery progressed steadily over the following weeks. I was driving after the second week which actually extended my life. If I’d spent much more time on the couch, my cabin fever would have forced my wife to kill me with a dull butcher knife. “I’m not sure what happened officer. One moment he was whining about not being able to drive, and the next moment I just snapped.”
This past week when I went to my knee doc for a follow-up appointment, he was almost giddy with my progress.
Yesterday was the first day in many years that I have not felt excruciating pain in my left knee. In fact, there was no pain at all. I wanted to do a little dance but didn’t want to push my luck.
On Friday when I graduate, I plan to drive over to the coffee place and get a fru-fru coffee and a New York Times newspaper. I think I “knee’d” to celebrate this graduation.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Goes On is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.