One of many lessons I’ve learned or have been reminded of 9 days post-op is that I can’t predict the future. I can plan for, anticipate, and make educated guesses, but often what I expect and what actually happens are two different things. WAY different in some cases. But one thing – the love of a good friend – turned out exactly the way I expected.
What I expected: I’d be doomed to weeks of sponge baths and washing my hair in the kitchen sink.
What actually happened: I was allowed to shower five days after surgery.
What I expected: To be wrapped in swaths of gauze for a month, and only a professional could change what I was sure would be bloody bandages.
What actually happened: Two days after surgery, my doctor cut off the ace bandage, and underneath was simply a long thin bandage covering the incision. I changed the bandage two more times when I got home, but have been dressing-free since Monday.
What I expected: For my incision to match the beaut of a scar on the other knee.
What actually happened: Surgical glue. As of this morning, more than half of the wound is completely healed over.
What I expected: To experience some pain the first few days, but to be driving around in a Wal-Mart cart within a week.
What actually happened: 9 days later I still can’t stand for longer than 10 minutes, and I have no desire to go anywhere. While I’m dealing with the pain and exhaustion, the degree to which I feel both surprised me. Like my daughter said the other day, “How do people in their 80s and 90s recover if someone like you is huffing and puffing just going back and forth to the bathroom?” Good question.
What I expected: To live in shorts and t-shirts and be completely unfettered from snaps, buttons, hooks and ties.
What actually happened: The weather turned chilly (although 90 is forecast for Sunday, thank goodness), so I was back to long sleeves, sweatshirts, and sweats. I also feel lost without a bra. So much for unfettered.
What I expected: To take a break from makeup.
What actually happened: No one other than my husband, daughter and in-home nurse and physical therapist have seen me, but feeling my best emotionally is helping me feel better physically. Makeup is a non-toxic, feel-good drug.
What I expected: “I’m in great shape, so physical therapy will be easy.”
What actually happened: Much sobbing and swearing. If you EVER have knee surgery, do NOT ignore the advice, “You might want to take your pain meds an hour before PT.” In fact, you might want to take a little extra. Holy. Cow. I’m not kidding.
What I expected (or actually, in this case, what I didn’t realize): All bodily functions would return to normal once I got home.
What actually happened: I’ve taken enough Dulcolax and Milk of Magnesia to keep an entire nursing home regular for a month.
What I expected: Lots of time to watch movies and read books.
What actually happened: I’ve watched a few movies and have started one book, but much of my time is spent getting from my bed to the bathroom, my bed to the kitchen, my bed to the porch…I also do a lot of staring into space. Oxycodone. Yuck.
What I expected: To heal up in a few weeks and have my doctor evaluate my right knee for possible debridment or total knee replacement before the birth of my third grandbaby in February.
What (will) actually happen: NO WAY! I’m very glad I didn’t know how much this left knee debridement would hurt because I probably wouldn’t have done it even though I really needed it. However, I’ll need time – several months if not a few years – before I can do this again. My right knee is hanging in there better than I thought it would, as are my shoulders and wrists. Once I’m healed up (which, I’ve accepted, may take three months), I’ll concentrate on getting my entire body back into its pre-surgical shape. There will be no talk of cutting Lynnie open again anytime soon.
I’ve received and am humbled by the generous support from my family, friends and neighbors, but there is one person who keeps me the most centered. My friend of 42 years, Teela.
I keep Teela’s photo tacked to the corkboard next to my bed to remind me what real courage is (here she is with her fabulous father, Hub, who when I was a kid I called my “daddy boyfriend”). In the last year, she’s had a mastectomy, hysterectomy, two other surgeries, countless radiation and chemo treatments, and a close call with liver cancer (which, thank god, turned out to be nothing more than a shadow on a film). Teela knows all about pain and fear.
She also knows about living. Teela’s always been a glass-half-full, vivacious person. She called me out of my shell many times when we were kids, and in many ways we’ve lived parallel lives. Love lives, anyway. It took her a few husbands before she found the right one, just like me, and we were pregnant at the same time. Just as I expected, Teela’s been with me (via the Internet) during my decision to have surgery and in these days afterwards, motivating me with every capped word and exclamation point and hilarious “Do you remember?” moments from our past. Here are a few photos of Teela and me from a long time ago. In many ways we’re still those little girls. Just what I expected and what actually happened.
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