I entered the freeway and almost immediately came to a near stop. Dang, I was already perilously late for an appointment I didn't really want; yet the alternative was even worse. Fumbling for my cell, I thought I should call and let them know I’d be late, but then the traffic started moving just fast enough to help me make the wise choice of not making the phone call.
As the three lanes began to pick up speed, I glanced nervously at the clock on the dash, and then remembered it was 10 minutes fast. I attempted to pay attention to traffic, and rehearsed my questions in my head, willing myself not to forget two that I hadn’t already written down. I had my knee journal next to me, with about 15 little post-it notes sticking out from various pages.
I haven’t been to the Salmon Creek office for a couple of years, and was nervous that I wouldn’t remember where to park, or where the office was. Relying on mostly gut instinct, I turned into the parking garage and looked for a parking space near the elevator. Grabbing the journal and a novel, I headed toward the elevator, and then decided to take the sky bridge to an area that looked familiar. Imagine my surprise when I emerged not only in the correct building, but only steps from Rebound offices! It was my lucky day, and I was ten minutes early to boot.
Fully expecting a long wait at 4:30 in the afternoon, I settled in with my book and tried to ignore the butterflies in my stomach. After reading about two pages, I unexpectedly heard my name. Entering the exam room, I started to take a seat, but dropped my purse. I told the nurse I was a little nervous. She reassured me that the doctor would be happy to answer all my questions, and it was normal to feel as I did. I managed to read a couple more pages between the time she left and the doctor came in, looking as young as ever, though I did notice just a touch of grey at his temples, that I don’t recall seeing a few months ago. My first thought was that he put it there to make him look a little more aged. (When I told my husband, he said he probably got the grey hair because of his job! Somehow, that wasn’t as reassuring as I’d have liked!)
He warmly greeted me then said, “I hear you have a few questions for me.” So, I unloaded my fears, and questions and he was brutally honest and I thought seriously about walking out, if I could have trusted myself to actually move.
He went and got a model of a knee and showed me what he was going to replace. While not as invasive as a full knee replacement, the process still involves a couple hunks of metal, with several prongs imbedded into my knee bones. Not for the faint of heart. But, I politely listened to his answers to my questions, and I gradually became a bit more interested in what was going to happen to me.
I questioned whether I was in enough pain to warrant going through the ordeal of major joint surgery. This is what the doctor told me. Some people are in excruciating pain, and choose to have knee replacement. Others have intermittent pain, and can no longer do the things they like to do that give them pleasure. Those folks either choose to live with a less than ideal lifestyle, or choose to have a knee replacement so they can return to those former activities.
That’s all I needed to hear. When faced with living with my knees as they are, and being miserable when I hike, so much so that I’m afraid to go far at all, it suddenly became a no brainer for me. I derive so much pleasure from being in nature, and hiking with my daughters and friends. I am too young to give that up for the rest of my life, especially if there is a 90% or better chance of success. It came down to what I value in life. I value beauty, God’s creation, natural surroundings, friends and family.
Altogether, I was mostly reassured. I’ll never be excited about having surgery. I’m not looking forward to the pain and discomfort or to being unable to drive for six weeks. But, it’s all temporary. One month from today, I'll have the partial knee replacement. I am trusting it is the right thing for me to do.