“but you will thank me later.” So said my physical therapist after bringing tears to my eyes at our last session. Getting a knee replacement isn’t just an operation, a short stay in the hospital and then painkillers and rest at home. No, it is a LOT of work. A lot of painful work.
Once I was out of the hospital, I spent a week at a rehab center ( I regaled you on their menu choices if you recall ). While there I also had physical therapy (PT) twice a day, every day for 45 minutes each. It consisted of learning how to walk with a walker, then a cane. It was a lot of mobility exercises and it was also how to put on your socks and empty the washing machine while your knee said, “uh no, that hurts!!” It was a good kickstart. But it was just a taste of the ordeal awaiting me.
When I got home I was scheduled for outpatient PT twice a week and with the “luck of the draw” I was paired with Kelly, a young, no-nonsense woman who is determined to get me to bend my knee normally and also get it to straighten out, no bends, when I stand. I like her, she doesn’t coddle me. While I am grimacing as I try to make the stationery bicycle wheel turn we talk about what we did on the weekend and admire each other’s choice in footwear. But don’t be fooled she has no qualms about bringing tears to my eyes.
This is the issue. I need to get to “0” but I am at -5, meaning it bends up, doesn’t lie straight as in this picture. Now on the bottom bend I am at 116 which is pretty good but we are shooting for 120 at the very least.
To get to either of these numbers a lot of pushing down of the kneecap or pulling back of my heel takes place. And man, it hurts. There are a lot of bruised, tight muscles in there, sore nerves and of course, metal parts. I am also fighting scar tissue. I have to keep everything moving before it tightens up.
That’s where Kelly comes in. She cracks the whip and says ten more reps, or eight more minutes on the rack and five more revolutions on the bike. On my own there would be one more rep and three on the bike and forget the rack. She is the one who pushes down firmly on my kneecap to force it into a more straight position while I whimper. She can unerringly find every sore and stinging muscle as she probes with her fingers. Yep, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.*
So right now, I hate her, or rather what she is making me do, but I know when I reach that “0” and can walk downstairs normally, I will thank her and be grateful she didn’t have a real whip.
*Monty Python’s Flying Circus