Three months ago, I had knee surgery, to be precise-ACL replacement with a hamstring graft, as well as MCL, PCL and meniscus repair.
The story really begins almost twenty years ago on a beautiful mountain with a wicked turn that I stupidly took wrong and of course this was only a green. A difficult green, but a green. (If you know me, this is real!) Envision a cartoon with the person ‘snow-balling’ down a mountain!
I tore my ACL, wore an enormous brace for six-weeks and for the next 18 years referred to my left knee as “my bad knee”.
Back to the here—In January, my daughter, Cameron and I took Charli, a nine-pound weenie dog and Tegan, a ninety-pound Great Dane to a dog park, in San Marcos. We had visited the dog park in Waco many times without a problem.
Here comes the lesson…never turn your back to a busy dog park!
I was looking at Charli and unbeknownst to me, four LARGE dogs (two Great Dane’s and two German Sheppard’s) were all chasing one tiny tennis ball that was thrown in my direction. Lucky me.
I was bowled over, literally. I went up…and what seemed like five minutes later, I came down. But before I hit the ground, I heard that all too familiar noise that I have heard so many times before …a loud POP!
I told Cameron that I could not get up. I was laughing (because that’s what I do) and fighting back the tears and of course so very embarrassed, as you can imagine. A lady brought me my phone that had flown in the chaos. When I finally got up, I knew I had hurt my knee again. This has happened so many times over the years and I knew the pain. And that pop.
Ironically, I had just gone to the doctor four days prior because of arthritic pain in my hands and feet. Because they thought I might have RA, I had multiple x-rays taken, including on my knee. (I never go to the doctor so this was weird!)
Although I don’t go to the doctor for every little pain, I am no stranger to surgery, sadly. Three C-sections, a hysterectomy, several laparoscopies and a neck surgery losing two discs.
I knew this time was the last time; I never wanted to hear that pop again. Orthopedic Surgeon, followed by MRI led me to March 9 in the OR.
This was by far the worst. I have a whole new respect for these kids in high school that have this surgery and come back to school a couple of days later, on crutches or in a wheel-chair, and on major drugs because they don’t want to take finals. (run-on sentence!!)
The doctor left out a lot of valuable information…
Like what a major surgery this is. And that it will take a full year to recover. That you need to practice using the crutches BEFORE your leg is numb and you are looped-up on major drugs! And that you need a loving care-giver that will wait on you “hand and foot”.
I will take this moment to say I would not have made it without Mark. He was my rock. And my cook. And my gopher. And my saint. My driver. My protector. And my everything! I owe him BIG and I hope I never have to re-pay him. (seriously-I hope I never have to!!) I love him for how sweet he was, attending to my every need. My three children even took turns ‘driving Miss Daisy’ and then there was the love and companionship of Charli.
Week one through three were hell. No really, they were. The pain, the crutches, the swelling-everything. Week four, I saw the light. Week seven I was able to tell those crutches where they could go-and stay! And every week got better from there. I attended physio twice a week from day five; then once a week after the first month. I will not finish until August. My physio has become my people. I see her more than I see a lot of people in my life.
I took one week off from writing because I was too drugged and still in bed most of the time. I read a quote that I loved and I feel is extremely proper in the moment—
“Athletes play hurt. Warriors fight scared.” And then a writer added, “And writers write anyway.” (original quote by Steven Pressfield ~addition to quote added by Hope*Writers) My nephew, Zach, (knowing I am no athlete), jokingly said, “career-ending injury!” Well, thankfully my career is writing. I feel for those that are stopped by this surgery.
So three months of my life are over and my knee is stronger. I am working on my hamstring. I have good and bad days but by far they are good. I have numbness down my calve that may never come back- but that’s doable. I am getting stronger. I am having to re-learn many things from almost 20 years of bad habits due to “my bad knee”. It will take time and thankfully time is free.
If you asked me around week two or three if I was happy with my decision to have the surgery, I would have said no. Now, I am happy to say I am glad. My knee is healing and I believe will be much stronger than it has been in the last 18 years.
In the darkest days, full of pain and full of hate for my crutches, I would find myself wallowing in “poor me”. I would quickly pull myself up ‘by my crutches’ and remember that I don’t have cancer, I didn’t step on a bomb, I wasn’t in a horrible car crash— I didn’t have anything tragic happen to me other than enjoying life, in a dog park.
But remember, when in a dog park, don’t turn your back to those big dogs!!
~love and blessings