Last Tuesday was a stupendous day! I tossed the crutches to the side, lost the brace, and experienced leg freedom for the first time in six weeks. I met my new orthopedist who was nice enough, but who I labeled the gatekeeper to hell after my first day of rehabilitative exercises.
It just feels great being able to move around more, sleep the way I like, and exercise those muscles more intentionally. A sad event had me going home-home (my parents’ home – which in grad school was the place where the laundry was free and the food was cooked by someone else) and the rehab kicking it up a notch. My dad’s a physical therapist, and I’m pretty sure that if I do what he says, my knee will feel 18 again by the beginning of spring (which they haven’t seen in over 20 years). As I was lying down and counting off reps Thursday afternoon under his watchful eye, and then as I was standing against a wall doing therapeutic squats, a few realizations came to me.
- I’m pretty sure The Complete Works of the Marquis de Sade are required reading for PT School and most doctoral programs in orthopedics.
- When writing about the circles of hell, Dante stopped too soon. I found the tenth circle of hell; it’s called therapeutic squats.
- Walking step-over-step to go up or down stairs is a big deal. As I was climbing the stairs at my parents’ house and was able to go up with the left foot, then the right, then the left – you know, like non-gimpy people do – I remembered an encounter I had with a lady at church one Sunday. I was in grad school and had shown up for church. My dad had some home health patients in that town, a few of whom went to my church. This older lady was climbing the steps on the side of the church to go in and she said, “Sara, make sure you tell your Dad that Edna Smith (not her real name) walked up these steps by herself!” I was happy her recovery had gone so well and she was strong enough to do this – in a nebulous sort of way; I didn’t really know her. As I walked up and down the stairs almost normally and finally with more grace than Boris Karloff‘s portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster, I realized what a tremendously big deal that is.
Now I’m home with two adjustable 5-pound ankle weights, some exercise bands, a bolster, and notes on my exercise sheets indicating the purpose of each exercise and when I can start some of them. Ibuprofen is my new friend – that and ice. It’s frustrating that I still have to stop to rest, to apply ice packs. As I laid on my bed after church, bolster under my knees and 1/2 pound of iron strapped to my ankle, I could hear Dad pushing me to “straighten that leg, give it that last little bit of oomph,” followed by a “There ya go! That’s it.” I’m proud to say I didn’t scream at him, cuss at him (all’s fair in rehab and therapy), or accuse him of killing me. From being his patient previously, I know the pain is well worth the results, and I can get through even the torturous squats if I focus on having stronger legs with no pain.