Daily fear. Given options, I typically prefer a “Be Calm, Soldier On” attitude when repairing from a physical trauma, especially if the entire process is relatively brief. But, to return to full mobility, a revised joint recipient needs to maintain a physical discipline of bending, strengthening and lengthening stubborn body parts up to and beyond a year to experience decent results. But physical therapy is not all that is required, by a long shot. Added to this regime is the need to calculate walking distances, arrange alternative forms of transportation, allow the house to collect dust until ready to use hard-earned mobility to clean it. Plain and simple acquiescence to the norms of this new regime also is a critical requirement to this revised lifestyle. I find that fear, now, is a norm and takes on more poignant, ‘ever present’ attention when managing recovery.
Perhaps prior experience lends to my stubborn hold on fear. Working full-time after my first knee replacement, I turned a corner in a recently mopped, but no warning signed hallway, and promptly fell on all fours, fracturing my kneecap on the two-year old knee replacement. I was immobilized for four full months, bearing no weight on that leg, still raising two boys and managing a townhouse, while taking work disability to try to make up for my lost salary. I returned to work in a knee brace that required an additional two months of wear and then proceeded with 6 months of physical therapy. Al tol, I added another year of recovery to my recovery process. Thankfully, I did repair. But I have no illusions about the change of lifestyle a break forces on adults, their families and their professional lives.
We know that fear serves the important purpose of sensing danger and threats to ones’ existence. Joint revisions naturally incorporate fear to sense real threats found in everyday life: fast moving crowds, uneven pavement and steps, intrepid traffic, disrespected pedestrian walk-through zones (‘zebra-stripes’) and slippery walkways all contribute to daily worries, daily fears. Slipping in the shower, banging the knee into a coffee-table, getting up from a chair too quickly can all result in acute moments of pain and possible damage to the joint. These daily fears, week after week, now three months running wear on me. Never have I wanted to incorporate more mind shifting substances (marijuana, medicinal and otherwise, sleep enhancers, alcohol, mediation, relaxation music, massage, etc…) into my daily life as I have now, following joint revision surgery.
Threaded through these management methods lies a cemented acceptance that whatever happens, has to be accepted. Seeking to absolutely control present day dangers and their accompanying speculation, forecasting, and anticipated consequences is an illusion. Fear creates the concern and alertness, as well as produces the strategies, the diligently designed ‘protection plans’ needed to potentially alleviate each situation. But these plans cannot ensure avoidance of all possible accidents. They help us move forward though. And, put into practice, these plans become behavioral patterns now common in ones’ life. When I got on the back of the motorcycle the other day (Blog 3) and easily placed the crutch between my shoulder and my chest, and rested its base on my foot, that was a quick, almost mindless act culminating from weeks of practice. I looked comical, but I felt secure – as much as one can on fast-moving motorcycles weaving their way through moving traffic at rush hour… We can only try to minimize threats to ourselves with strategic planning and ‘safety-first’ decision-making, put into practice often enough to create confident, adjusted, behavioral patterns – ideally supported by calm-inducing moments in the day, as we live our revised lives.
Today, my husband and I will use the metro system to meet a real estate agent in a southern section of Bangkok. I will put on my light-weight cross-shoulder bag, and walk an additional 400 meters from the metro to get to the door of the apartment complex. This will be the first visit of 5 we will make today in the same neighborhood. While I have point-blank reminded the agent three times that I have limited mobility she continues to assume that I can walk as far as she can, youngster that she is. Lack of empathy, determination to succeed in her profession, stubbornness or dull headedness motivates her as much as fear of pain and of damaging my joint again motivates me. We will take a metro and Tuk Tuks or small electric rickshaws as often as we can. I will let my husband see the apartments while I sit in a coffee shop waiting for his reviews and his photos.
So, again, fear and strategic thinking must go hand in hand, never trumping the other. Otherwise, ‘housebound’ will be my lifestyle far too soon in my mind and in my life.
Saving myself for the adventure later today, I limit my morning routine to straight-legged lifts and knee bends. When we return, and depending on my pain threshold, I will try to go up to the pool for the rest of my routine as listed in Blog 2.
Onward readers! How is your day going?