Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cautious Optimism

It's been a good week.  Since my "revelation" on Saturday, I've experienced continued progress in my recovery journey, and it has renewed my optimistic outlook. (which I thought I'd lost forever!)  I think I'm going to walk again! (Without a walker or a cane . . . eventually!)

Thanks to an email from a new friend, I started walking with my wheeled walker on the street last Saturday.  It's a pretty slow process, and I'm now walking the length of three houses, plus across the street and back.  It isn't pain free walking, but I'm walking, and it feels good to be going someplace other than the bathroom, even if I just wheel myself down the street and back again!

This week at physical therapy I've been working hard learning new exercises, and coming home with renewed pain, making it challenging to see success at times. The one real measurement of progress is the degrees of bend and straight in my knee that the PT records at each session.  While it seems backwards to my mind, the bending goal is 120 degrees on my new knee (my old knee measurement is 136).  Yesterday, I went from 112 to 115, which completely surprised me.  That is solid progress!

Of course, straight, they want zero degrees (as opposed to 180, as I would think!) and I was at three, which is not so great.  I've actually been at one before, but I seem to be having a harder time straightening than bending lately. I'm told just keep doing the exercises where I rest my heel on a styrofoam cylinder, and gravity then forces my knee to hang straight.  It's another exercise that is painful as I'm supposed to hold that position for five minutes, ten times a day.  I made it to two minutes, four times, last night before I went to bed, where sleep evaded me, as aching overtook the darkness.

It was one of my roughest nights. It seemed I was awake more than I slept and woke eventually not feeling very refreshed at all.  There was no comfortable position, and despite taking a pill, and bringing an ice bag to bed with me, I slept fitfully and poorly. For the first time since surgery, I couldn't force myself to do my "laying down" exercises before I got out of bed this morning.  I hobbled toward the kitchen, fixed tea and a piece of toast, took a pain pill and settled into my recliner with ice on my knee. And here I sit!

As I write, the ice and the pill beginning to take effect, I am trying to gather that transitory optimism back. I know it's there, hovering on the periphery, beckoning me: Be optimistic! It's getting so much better.  You're making strong progress!  Don't let yourself slide back.  Smile!

In all reality, I want to kick that unsinkable Molly Brown person back to bed, at least for the moment.

But then, not really.  If I'm honest with myself, and I try to be, I want to drag myself over to my bike and pump start my day.  I want to work on the exercises, even the ones that hurt, and literally put one foot in front of the other, and walk, maybe going one house further today than I did yesterday.

Four weeks from today I am officially back to work, with an all day inservice, and a two hour "Open House" that evening.  I am optimistic that I will be mostly recovered, and able to perform my job.  Realistically, I know that I will not yet be 100%, and that I will need to recall the lessons learned this summer about taking care of myself.  Some that come to mind are:  acceptance, take it slow, delegate, pay attention, listen, be gentle, be patient, trust, ask for help, be kind, exercise, don't give up, and know my limits.  All of those lessons can be taken into the classroom with me, and will help me be the teacher I want to be for each of my new students.

It hasn't been the sort of summer I would wish for, or want to have.  It's been a crazy hard summer and it isn't over yet, (thank God!) because I'm not ready physically for it to be over yet! But, I am in the place I am meant to be, and I am optimistic that I will one day be glad I had this summer, for all its fears and challenges and misery and lessons.

I'm not quite there yet . . . to that glad place, but I'm cautiously moving in that direction!


  1. Some summers are like that. I remember one where I had two major orthopedic surgeries. We also lost a treasured colleague in a tragic accident that year. I also learned that one just keeps putting one foot in front of the other and keeps plugging away.

    Don't overdo. Challenge yourself. Take time to let things heal. Keep on keeping on. Thanks for sharing this journey with us.

  2. Sandi, you've summarized a whole philosophy of life when you plan to practice "acceptance, take it slow, delegate, pay attention, listen, be gentle, be patient, trust, ask for help, be kind, exercise, don't give up, and know my limits." Your words ring with truth.

    Having had knee surgery a year ago, I'm walking daily and with no pain. That's what awaits you!

  3. After having had a rough night, it's not unexpected or unreasonable to feel a bit flat the next day. You've been making steady progress, even if you feel it's slow. I'm sure you will have days when your body demands a bit of a rest in between the other days of pushing yourself to try harder and do more. Don't be hard on yourself.

  4. I feel as if we are kindred spirits.

    I hope you continue with your optimism. Keep up the hard work. It's making all the difference.

  5. You're doing fine. Keep on keepin' on. And by the way, walking with a walker is still walking - for now.

  6. Yes, optimism spurs us on to work hard to achieve our goals. I think you're doing great. Keep it up. I know you can make it.

  7. I know you understand the concept of the knee replacement. But if you could see, really see, what we take out, then what we put in, and how much is altered, cut, and realigned to make your new knee better than your painful old one, you'd be patting yourself on the back and saying, "hey, I'm doing great after all I put my body through!" Sounds like everything is on track. The beginning of this year may not be your fastest moving one, but next Summer, you'll be kicking butt!

  8. You are making progress, and I think it was an earlier post where you called it "two steps forward, one back" or something like that. It's a process, and I think you are doing great. I love reading about your continued progress.

  9. Isn't it interesting how much hinges on how well you sleep (or not)? I love what Yaya wrote. I'm so proud of you, both for the working you're doing, and for your willingness to share this process with the rest of us.

  10. It is so difficult to remember that the frustrating, anxious times are as transitory as anything else, isn't it? Whenever I'm feeling limited, whether it is by emotions or physical issues, it always feels as though this is what will be forever. From here on out. For me, the trick is to just sit and wait for that to pass and the optimism and hope to come back.

    Glad you're having success and looking to the future. Continue to take it easy on yourself and remember that you are doing all you can.

    Sending love and light.

  11. Sandi, just popping by to see how you are getting on. Keep at it! I hope you can get better sleep, it would make such a difference I know. Your steady progression is admirable!


Thank you for visiting my blog. I enjoy the connections made with others, and welcome feedback! I make every effort to read and comment on the blogs of all who visit my site. Seek the light!