Laugh with me along the mental and physical journey, of the joys of joint surgery.

 

Congratulations! You’ve been hurting long enough. Admitting you have a problem and moving forward to a fix is scary. We’ve all brushed off pain, now and again. When physical pain consumes you, it’s time. No one can tell you when it’s time. You just know. Pain is fatiguing. Pain is psychological. Pain can take over your life.

Before acceptance, you try to disguise your pain, your need for joint replacement, from others. I could make a career of hiding pain. “Accepting the Oscar…..”. At some point, there is no hiding. Strangers start to even notice. You’re not as clever as you think. I’ve become attuned to observing peoples’ replacement needs. It’s like “Name that Tune” for me. In one step, I can tell what joint strangers need to have replaced. Knee. Knee. Hip. Then I guess their careers. It’s good to keep busy.

You’ve chatted up your friends for doctor recommendations. You’ve paid attention to all the commercials and ads. You weigh your options. After an acceptable period of mourning your defeat, you make an appointment. All is good. You’re fine now. Calm again…. until the day of the appointment.

The doctor’s appointment went as well as it could. The doctor secretly wonders what took you so long. The staff gives you the happy nods when you schedule your surgery, as they hand you paperwork.  Now to share the news with others.

You check your work and social calendars. You mentally change the date around holidays, birthday, work projects. But, you decide, the date actually works! Your family is nervous happy. Your friends and neighbors offer their thoughts, prayers, and help. You feel the need to justify the surgery with every sharing. “It’s genetics.” “It’s from an old sports injury.” “It’s not my fault!”

You go to the pre-surgery education class. Yes. You must be educated. Here’s the one thing you should walk away with. Do not watch the YouTube video of your surgery. You’ll never sleep again. You’ll have trouble sleeping anyways, you don’t need more. You listen. You peruse the paperwork. Pay heed to the need to poop. Miralax is magic. You doubt some of the suggested items. Trust me. You will need some of these things, like the flower needs the rain. (Name that tune!) Antibacterial wash? Clean sheets? Loose clothing?  Grabbing tools? Their experience predates your needs. You are advised to make sure your loved one has the passwords to your accounts. Bills should be paid to date. More worry lines form in your forehead.

You go the pre-surgery medical appointment. You meet a team of people that will ask questions (over and over), perform some tests, and ask you questions, again. This is tiresome. They are at the gathering-information-stage. You are at the sick-of-this-shit stage. Can I hear an “Amen?” The world starts a countdown to your surgery.

It’s a week before the BIG DAY. Everyone treats it like a vacation. You convince yourself you need this time off from work.  You plan on catching up on so much. Movies. Books. Magazines. It won’t happen. You’ve been instructed what you can and cannot do, take, drink, or eat before the surgery. “How will I make it?” you think.

You arrive at the hospital, early in the morning as directed. You’re nervous, excited and just plain damn tired. You are in the pre-surgery room getting prepped. The hospital gown is handed to you. You succumb to this last step. Shits real now.  It’s too late to turn back now!

Your surgery was a success! Then why do you feel so crappy? Anesthesia my dear! You groggily await your family. They are nervous but rejoice at the sight of you lying in wait. The visit is quick. They will meet up with you in your room in an hour, or so. Suddenly, they are unabashedly hungry. They hurriedly leave, relieved you’re alive.

Your room! You are so happy to be here, for now. It will soon feel like a prison for the endlessly seeming stay of 3 days. You are not prepared for the parade of medical staff checking your vital signs, asking if you have any questions. “Can I go home now?” is not what they mean. You laugh when told that physical therapy will be up soon to get you moving. They mean it. Really. You scoff at the PT when you are told, before you are released, you must be able to go up and down stairs. Unimaginable that this swollen, stapled mess will ever move again. Beg the nurses for Miralax. You are bound to be constipated. (See what I did there?) They aren’t kidding in the commercial, it’s the science of going!

Have your visitors bring you coffee and palatable foods.  Coffee never tastes good in plastic mugs. You will not be served haute cuisine. Bless the hospital food workers. They try. There’s nothing better than a smuggled salami sandwich. HGTV will become your best friend and your worst enemy. Even at your weakest, you will have the strength to mock the “open-concept-couple”. Or those aghast, their children should have to share a bathroom. Oh, yeah. Bring it on. You will find yourself shouting at them. And then the nurses come in, to join your comical rants.

You accomplish small miracles each hour of your captivity, sitting on the edge of the hospital bed. Washing your face has never felt so good. You can only dream of a hot shower and clean hair. Reality hits you. TED stockings are a four-week sentence, unless you want a blood clot! Pro-tip: save the plastic bag they’re in. You can slip it over your toes, to make pulling up the socks a little easier. It won’t be easy, just easier. Oh, you will hate them.

You made it up and down the stairs. The physical therapist is releasing you. You are going home! You, and your amazing swelled legs, are squeezed into a car. Hospital slippers adorn your puffy feet. It’s still glorious to be getting out of the hospital and into fresh air!

As you pull up to your home, your first of many fearful thoughts flash in your mind. “How am I going to get in?” Stairs. Lot of stairs. You can do this! “Up with the good, down with the bad” you chant. Now, it’s time to show what you’re made of. Your ride pulls the crutches from the trunk. You sit, plotting. The door opens. Fresh air fills your lungs. You look at your legs and wonder how are you going to move them towards the house. You do it! You’re in! Find a comfortable chair. Look around. All the wonderful squeaks, creaks and groans serenade you. The coffee tastes better. Food is glorious. You crawl carefully onto your bed. Peace. Followed by boredom.

“Boredom?” As the anesthetics wear off, you’ll be restless and have trouble sleeping.  You  are tired of just sitting. You want to feel better, be better. Hunger will elude you. You’re uncomfortable. Recording your meds is tedious. Your staples are sore. TED stockings should be used as an instrument of torture. No one told you there was a mental/emotional side to healing, along with the physical. Put plans in place to keep your mind busy. First your mind, then your body. Your recovery should not be a marathon of HGTV. Give yourself a week and then get mentally active. This comes before physical activity. Listen to music. Sing along. Those lyrics will come back to you.  Enjoy the beauty of online shopping. Hello Amazon! Converse with your family. Write letters to your friends. Don’t bore them with details. Talk about what you can do together in a few weeks. Listen to books on CD or online. Take an online class. This is the perfect time to learn something new. Craft away. Finish a project you started. Write down all the promises to yourself, to use this experience as a second chance. You want to live life to its fullest. You cannot measure improvements by days with joint replacement surgery. You measure by weeks. Every week you will make successive progress. You’re going to be fine in a few weeks. You’ll get over your fear of falling. Wait. What? The world will become one of steps and opportunities to fall. It won’t last once you regain your confidence and feel in control again.Who knew?

If you have any concerns, always rely on your resources. Your visiting nurse, physical therapist and your surgeon. You have a team to support you, to answer your questions. Please ask them! Surgery is serious! Remember to do your physical therapy. It’s very important to do the exercises. Surgery replaces the joint, but now you have to work everything else. The ability to bend and straighten have never been so important.

You’ve got the grit to get through this. Use your tenacity to make the changes that need to be made. Just keep moving forward with your goals, small or large. You’re going to be great! This isn’t a defeat, it’s a new opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not you. It’s me.

 

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I read many newspapers every day online. Nothing brings me more joy than the Wall Street Journal’s Saturday edition. Don’t be confused and think I read articles on politics, I lean towards the personal interest and style stories. Reading these articles bring me to my comfortable spot of self-loathing and mocking of others. It’s complicated.

Today’s newspaper had several articles that were gems. Perhaps I’m just not in their target market. There is an article about how men do not have the same choices in casual wear as women. I cannot agree or disagree. Where I work, there aren’t that many men and we all have our own interpretation of casual. But none of us have the fashion taste of the WSJ readers. They suggest that instead of a jersey sweatshirt, men could wear a jersey fabric jacket. The cost is a mere $1295. And what do you wear under this fashion jewel? You wear a featherweight merino tee. This costs only $68. So reasonable! Buy two! The merino wicks away moisture like magic. I’m not sure what featherweight merino is, but I am SOLD!

The next article that caught my attention was one about ivory toned jeans. Keep in mind there are also crème de la crème colored jeans. Jeans that are not denim colored. I cannot even imagine. What’s the point? Aren’t those just called pants, or perhaps khakis? Not since the Great Menstrual Cycle of 1974 have I worn any light colored pants OR skirts. Here’s a valuable lesson to you younger ladies…. always have a sweater/sweatshirt to wrap around your waist. Just.in.case.

Am I jealous or did I just shake my head too hard when reading these articles?  Where do you wear these clothes? I would be afraid to leave the house. I’m sure the ladies at the grocery store, library and the bank drive-thru would be in awe of my style.

The last article flabbergasted me. Dish towels. I have a lot and hate when they get ratty and smelly. These go right into the rag bag. But the dish towels in the article were made from “fine European linen and remarkable Egyptian cotton” with a starting price of $130. It claims you won’t need many. Really? I won’t need any, thank you. You can make 29 a month instead of 30. I am all set. I would have to frame it as a piece of art.

Maybe I should start reading the New York Post?

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Bored or Boring?

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I am bored, and this is how I know. I spend the day having these exciting conversations with my husband. “Oh, look. The news is on!!!” (It’s on all day.), “Oh, I would love a cup of coffee” (It’s 10:00 and I’m working on my third cup.”, “Look at all the birds flying in and out of the bushes (This activity goes on all day.), “I’m going to the bathroom.” (This is often, please note coffee consumption.), “Is it time for our afternoon snack?” (Most days around 3:30 we have cheese, crackers, olives and pepperoni.), “The paper is here.” (I’ve already read it online.), “The mail is here!!” (Rarely is there anything for me. Please send presents.), “I think the laundry’s done” (Folding the clothes is a fun standing activity for me, really.), “Don’t you love this sock and the color of the yarn?” (I hope my kids like socks. They will have many by winter.), “Fixer-Upper is on honey!” (It’s on all the time and we have seen each episode multiple times).

Conversations that happen less frequently but no less important, “The nurse is here!”, “The physical therapist is here!”, and my favorite ,“Don’t forget it’s trash day.” Pretty boring as conversations go. Two surgeries, in two months, have done me in. I keep myself busy. Being busy doesn’t mean you’re not bored.

Is being bored the worst thing to happen to me? Nope. What I may have figured out is I’m not bored, just boring. That’s a horse of another color. That could be the worst thing…..I’d think about it more, but it’s snack time.

But you can call me NoBro

When did we become a world of acronyms? I remember the world before them. I also remember cursive. Can we bring back cursive and dump the use of acronyms in conversations?

One upon a time acronyms were used mainly in the military to keep things secret. I think my earliest memory of one is, NOW. What can I say. I’m a child of the 60’s. We all were curious about NASA and their adventures in space. I still shake in fear when someone talks about COBOL and BASIC. Politicians throw around the term POTUS. We now have marketing acronyms, SEM. They are popping up everywhere. I spend more time Googling these terms than I’d like to admit. Why do people assume that you know what they mean? If you aren’t completely familiar with the industry, you cannot possibly know what they mean.

Acronyms are as confusing to me as the abbreviations in texting. What happened to complete sentences and grammar? Must I turn to Urban Dictionary to figure out what people are saying? But my favorite frustration is when people speak the acronyms. Because I’ve been living the life of a shut in recently, I’ve been reading many newspapers online. Anyone over a certain age would look at me crossed-eyed if I told them I was reading HUFFPO or PROJO. Where does it end? Who creates them?Well, I must go and finish reading today’s BoGlo and the WaPo. Ok. I made those acronyms up. But I want the credit please. I may go to NoHo to my favorite yarn shop. It’s a real place in western Massachusetts.

Sometime acronyms can be laugh out loud funny. Recently George Mason University received a donation to rename their law school after Antonin Scalia. So, of course, the acronym would have been ASSoL. Ha! Of course they added “of George Mason University” to the end. I wonder how long it took them to notice?

And the sands of time……

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I have been home from the hospital for a week. It seems like a lot more time has slipped by. As before with other surgeries, I promised myself I would use this time constructively. I would take online classes, read all the books piled up throughout the house, on my Nook and Kindle apps. I would write the next great American novel, or at least read one. I thought about finding my creative self and continue with my charcoal sketching, or pen and ink drawing. Or maybe color in the adult coloring book I have.  Maybe I could start some innovative business that would save the world. Get rid of the bad guys and help the good guys. Too simplistic? Maybe. I was planning on changing my life, as I had planned the two other times. Do you have any suggestions? So far, I have used my time in less productive ways. Notice I didn’t say “non-productive” ways because if you learn something, it’s productive.

So here are a few of the things I have learned. In case you didn’t know, there is more than one way to peel a hard-boiled egg. You can look it up yourself. I now have the know-how to make Unicorn Bark. To continue in this thread, there will be Unicorn Kisses flavored seltzer water on the shelves April 1st. I am skeptical of this.

With regards to celebrities, I watched Adele attempt to twerk in concert. I cannot un-see that. I have watched enough FIXER UPPER episodes on HGTV that I am convinced Chip and Joanna could be my best friends. Really. If I could get past their kids and goats. Tom Brady can surf. He also bonked the Easter Bunny in the head with a football. Bad move, my friend. You’ve just ruined it for all of us. Ina and Ree love it when I follow along with them, taking copious notes on their techniques. I think Ina would like me, but Ree would really feel threatened by me. Just saying’. Coach K is a smart guy. His quotes must inspire others. I just like to repost them so I know where to find them, just in case. I still use two spaces between sentences. I’m old and stubborn.

I have continued searching for a beautiful vacation home on my beer budget. Nantucket keeps showing up. I guess I should head over there in my never-to-be-afforded Land Rover. I wonder what color would suit me best. This is assuming they would let me on the island.

Daily I look at the The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Boston Globe. Front to back I search for articles on knitting. Maybe I should expand my searches. It would still leave me with 23 hours and 45 minutes to fill. If I knit as much as I think about it, read about, and plan, we would all have an endless supply of sweaters, scarves, and socks instead of a sock.

The most amazing things I’ve discovered is that life goes on in the world without you, and my glasses get very dirty while on my face. I think the glasses thing bothers me the most. How do they get so damn dirty?

The thing I am most thankful for during my rehab (I promise I’ll do my exercises later…tomorrow) is my husband. Girls, looks will fade, humor is subjective, but any guy that can cook, clean, do laundry, help lift swollen legs and fluff pillows without being asked, and makes the best cheese plate for a snack, and a perfect cup of coffee or tea, is a KEEPER. You can take that to the bank! Thanks honey! I love you!