Life Happens

So this happened! I had a long-overdue total knee replacement (TKR) of my right knee.

It’s been a true adventure, and I want to share it with you.

I decided to dedicate an entire blog to the subject, as it fits in so nicely with my “mind, body, spirit” view of life, and how I visualize my practice.

It’s certainly been an up-and-down experience, but almost two weeks post-surgery, I’m “running” around the house without aid (no walker, no crutches, no cane).

The hardest part, I think, has been being “housebound.” I’m an active, independent person, and being unable to leave the house or do things for myself has been quite humbling.

My knee health journey began just a bit over 25 years ago with my first patella (kneecap) dislocation. I recovered fairly well from that, but over the course of nearly 30 years, I dislocated that very same kneecap about 9 or 10 more times, even as easily as just turning over in bed. So, it became increasingly clear that that knee had to go!!!

Interestingly enough, the TKR has been easier to heal from than the first patella dislocation. And, like always, I’ve really pushed myself.

I think I’m a reasonably competitive soul and am competitive with the hardest person to win against – myself. Always pushing myself further and trying more has worked both against me and for me. Not really sure where that comes from as I don’t think I was particularly competitive when I was young, but “who knows?!?” 

This is from my recent return home after staying with my very good friend, Barbara, a nurse by profession and nature, and Bill, her husband of many years and a good, supportive friend of his own volition. I’m sitting on the couch, right knee wrapped in the indispensable ice machine, with my most able assistant and nurse, Spinnie Winnie, by my side!

I stayed with them for four days, starting with the pickup from the hospital on the same day as the surgery, to the fourth day, when I returned home to the care of Winnie’s sitter, who turned out to be a Leslie sitter too! Melanie has been the best second mom for Winnie since late May, and she turned out to be the best “mom” for me, as she stayed with me from Saturday to Wednesday, when she went on to another pet-sitting gig. It’s an interesting thing, as a very independent woman, to ask for and accept help from anyone, much less someone a lot younger than you!

This picture is from 2015 when I was on an eco-tour led by a good friend of mine, and we were predominantly touring Sicily. We were walking through the Madonie Mountains near Palermo. We were hiking through these stunning mountains from our rented Villa in the tiny, picturesque village of Sant’Ambrogio to meet our goat herder/shepherd, Giulio, at his farm. The hike was “gentle” but not entirely so for me, as it was over uneven dirt paths, and crevices carved out by the infrequent but at times heavy rain. Unbeknownst to me, while I stopped with my walking sticks to take in the incomparable beauty of the mountains of the Madonie National Park, my friend, and sustainable tour guide, Char Selsvold, Blue Bee Odysseys ( snapped a pensive shot of me.

The last time I had traveled internationally before the Sicily trip was in 1982. It was a European trip with my high school French teacher, a long-time friend from childhood, high school, and college, and other people I don’t even keep in contact with.

Experiencing international travel, starting with my flight into Rome, then Palermo, Cefalu, Sant’Ambrogio, Agrigento, and finishing with Gozo in Malta, was nothing short of inspirational.

I wanted this. I wanted to see the world, but not in an “If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium,” kind of way. I want to feel what it’s like to live in a village/town/city/country, not just stop for a day in a city and see a sight.

As a licensed clinical social worker, I’ve always been more interested in the society and social aspects of life in another country. It’s the culture. It’s the architecture. It’s the cuisine. It’s the clothing. It’s the language. It’s the daily living…the way of just “being.”

So, with each passing year from that life-changing trip to Sicily, I grew less and less able to live that sustainable life. Injuries and my own decreasing functionality kept getting more and more in the way.

Just like the Sicily trip was life-changing for me, so was 2021. First another fall and another injury in April, then an epiphany at Thanksgiving – I knew I couldn’t, and indeed, wouldn’t continue on this trajectory.

2022 became the Year of Preparation. Eating better, exercising more, both in the gym and away from the gym, gaining movement and flexibility albeit very limited, and, finally, courage and hope, led me to the long-overdue total knee replacement (TKR) of my right knee.

As I put the finishing touches on this very personal blog at 18 days post-surgery, I reflect on the past year, the past 3 years, the past 7 years, the past 25 years, and think about the past 3+ weeks. These weeks were filled with hope, pain, both physical and emotional, and, in the darkness of the night, doubt and despair. But not much. Only about 4 of those 18 days were dark. The other 14 days have been filled with a more positive mind, body, spirit connection.

And I’ll be on that hike in Sicily someday, again – feeling pensive, again.

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