Sunday, December 28, 2008

As Long as He Knee'ds Me...

It's just about three weeks now until the joint in my left knee is replaced with an artificial one that works, and a few weeks later, I'll get a new right knee. I went online to WebMD to learn more about what will happen. I might even get to be awake enough to watch some of it. It sounds kind of gross when you read that they'll make an 8 to 12 in incision, fold the kneecap back, and clean up the bone spurs and other gunk between the bones before they insert the artificial joint. But I think it's a miracle and I'm grateful I'll have a chance to walk again like a normal person. A couple of years ago I had my cataracts removed, and that was a miracle, too.

Over the past few months, as I've become less and less mobile, I've looked at other people and been jealous of their ability to walk and stand and move. Most of the pain I've had has been in my muscles, which is why I didn't go to an orthopedic surgeon sooner. I didn't realize that the pain was compensatory, which means the muscles have been trying to compensate for what the knee joints can't do anymore. (I'm still surprised that my primary care physician didn't recognize those symptoms and tried to treat the muscle pain alone.) Consequently, I have good strong muscles in my legs; they hurt right now, but they're strong. Maybe that'll turn out to be a good thing when I get into therapy. I have the surgery on a Tuesday, and on Friday the doctor will assess my progress to decide if I go home or go to therapy. Some people walk out of joint replacement surgery four days later and resume their lives. I've had several surgeries before and have bounced back from each one. I trust this one will be the same, as will the next one a few (2 to 4) weeks later. My goal is to be able to walk to church (in the next block) by the time we have good spring weather.

Last summer we went to the beach as a family, and I wasn't able to move they way I've been able to in the past. Since then my kids have encouraged me to see a specialist. Heather made my first appointment with Dr. Parry, then went with me for the consult. I'm an idiot but even I could see that the x-rays showed no appreciable cartilage in either knee.

People have been very kind and helpful through all of this. I've been helped to the car after church or choir practice by some of the most wonderful members of the ward. I gave a talk in church and sat on a stool to do it. A lifeguard at the pool helped me limp to the dressing room one day when I thought my knees might buckle when I got out of the water. I substituted in Sunday School and sat on a stool to teach the lesson. Even the people at the dentist's office had a pillow to put under my knees and relieve the stress on them as I sat/reclined in the chair my body doesn't really fit very well. I did appreciate people who pushed the wheelchair on our vacation last summer (where wheelchairs were available) and those who let me lean on their arms getting in and out of cars and restaurants. The motorized carts in grocery stores have been a wonderful service; I look forward to not needing them.

Roger has earned his place in heaven. As if being married to me for 39 years (next Tuesday) didn't already qualify him, the way he has waited on me and attended to my needs has been exemplary and kind. He's even taking a day off school to go with me to my pre-op appointment the first week in January.

When I consulted with Dr. Parry in St. George, he said, "You'll get your life back, and you'll have about 80 percent mobility." Anything's better than ten percent, I thought. Then he warned me about therapy and said, "You'll hate me for the first few days." That seems ridiculous, like hating your husband because childbirth hurts. I have a high pain threshold; I'm confident.

All in all, I feel blessed and loved and cared for. I know what the song means when it says "Sheep May Safely Graze." I feel the Shepherd near me. I'm looking forward to being able to resume my life and keep up with my family a little better.

So that's what I'll be doing on Inauguration Day.


jwise said...

Well, we're looking forward to the miracle that knee surgery is, too. I hope that it will mean a "new world" for you. I know there are so many things that you would like to be able to do that you can't...yet. I, too, am grateful for Dad's patience and service, and for that of other ward members and various others. I will probably spend inauguration day watching some TV (I really appreciate the "historicalness" of it), and calling Heather/Jordan/you.

Anonymous said...

We're hoping for the best, too.