Of all the things I’ve discovered I love to do since losing weight, hiking is probably my favorite. It’s certainly the most spiritual.
I’ve done on a lot of hiking in the last few years, but yesterday’s hike – while not the most challenging – was the most momentous, especially since it marked the 4-month anniversary of my knee surgery.
Yesterday, October 23, was not only the first day I’d hiked in four months, it was the first day I felt I’d made the right decision to have my knee repaired and not replaced. The pain has been significant and the rehabilitation slow and many times I doubted if keeping my own equipment was worth it. But yesterday, feeling my knee working the way it did years ago, feeling like myself again and doing something I truly loved, I knew I’d done the right thing.
My doctor told me I’d recover in 6-12 weeks. My physical therapist said 6-12 months. Both were right because if I’ve learned nothing else this summer and fall, it’s that “recovered” is a slippery slope of a word that runs the gamut of meaning. For some, recovered means, “Hey, I’m recovered enough to go to the bathroom alone!” (which I did less than a week after surgery). Others aren’t recovered until they can climb Mt. Everest (which I will never do). I’m somewhere in between. Recovered to me means I can hike for 40 minutes through a gorgeous section of Cook Forest that has been my place of solace for almost 20 years.
I had no idea how long I’d last, but I needed to test the waters and to measure just how strong my knee was. I used my Leki poles and worked up to almost a normal brisk pace, enough to get a little sweat on. Twenty minutes in, I felt great. Surprisingly great. But I knew to turn around if I was going to keep feeling great. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment when we got back to our starting point was second only to the feeling I had the day I made goal nearly four years ago. It was a freaking rush.
We found a log and I took off my backpack.
And ate lunch.
Then I laid down in the leaves and looked at the sky.
And I was very, very happy, despite the burrs.
I was happy because of my fabulously awesome knee.
Is there something you do that makes you this kind of happy? I hope so. I really, truly hope so.