“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~ José N. Harris
Three weeks ago my prosthetic knee was in a sterile package, sitting on a shelf somewhere, with my name on it. Twentyfour hours later, it was removed from its packaging, and carefully installed in the place where my damaged left knee used to be. Reminds me of replacing the bar of soap in my shower. It’s great when the block of lye and fragrance is the perfect size to fit in your hand. It lathers up nicely, and fits snugly in the soap dish. But after so much use, the bar begins to dissipate. It gets whittled down to a useless sliver, losing the power to create suds and effectively clean. That’s when the decision is made to open a new bar of Irish Spring, breathe in the aroma of pine, and replace the spent bar of soap with a fresh and fully functional slab. Yes, knee replacement surgery is much like replacing a bar of soap, except for the time, money, skill and pain involved.
I was in the Midwest recently for our granddaughter’s third birthday. It was my first big adventure after surgery and I flew non-stop, dressed in my finest compression socks, wearing sensible shoes, and shuffling slowly on and off the plane. We were able to spend Mother’s Day weekend with all of our children and grandchildren, and I was the recipient of the best hugs and sloppy kisses that any “Nana” could ask for. But ever since they were told about my knee replacement, our grandsons have been curious about what it looks like. They asked to see pictures of the incision, which I sent on Day 1. So, when I arrived at the birthday party, the boys gathered round to see it for themselves. I rolled up my pant leg and exposed the wound.
The adults looked away, but the boys studied it intently. Then our seven-year old grandson shrugged and said, “I really thought it would look worse.” And off they went. Unimpressed. I guess swollen and misshapen body parts with long scars, surrounded by black and blue skin really isn’t anything to dwell on. So, I’ll take my cue from a first-grader. Just move on. Go about your business. Put one foot in front of theother and roll with the punches. It’s just a knee.
My husband recently read a quote to me from his Men’s Journal magazine. It’s from an athletic trainer of professional football players. The guy said when you have an injury, your brain is aware of the weakness and tells your body not to use the damaged limb or appendage, which is a natural defense mechanism. However, according to this expert, it’s important to begin using and working the injured body part in whatever capacity possible to begin the rehabilitation process. If left up to the brain, which is slow to signal the green light, you may very well lose function and mobility by waiting. I agree.
In the three weeks since my knee was replaced I have gone from dragging myself along with the aid of a walker, to taking 30 minute, still-cumbersome, strolls with my dog. I practice climbing and descending the steps in my house multiple times a day and I do leg lifts, which is the hardest exercise of all. I contract my quadricep, lengthen through my heel and lift. For ten repetitions at a time, I grit my teeth, I breathe long, strong, breaths, and once in a while I growl a colorful expletive or two. But the hard work pays off, because each day I feel improvement. Each night I fall asleep with a little less pain. And every morning I wake with less swelling and greater mobility.
My husband called me a fighter. My dad raised me to be a worker. My mom taught me optimism, and my family and friends feed me with encouragement and love.
A part of my body is only three weeks old. It was manufactured and packaged and sat waiting with my name on it until the right moment came along. The moment when I decided that I wanted my full mobility back. When I stopped compensating for what wasn’t working, and started working for what I wanted. I’m not there yet, but every day, I’m a little closer than yesterday.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.