Think Of It As Your Job

My first real job – one that took taxes out of my paycheck – was at a nursing home kitchen. I’d just turned 16 and had been a candy striper there for two years. I worked 16-20 hours a week and had to wear a hair net and a white apron, but so did the cute boys working there, so I didn’t feel too awkward. I learned to search trays for lost dentures and how to pitch mashed potato balls at someone using the braided hose by the garbage disposal as a bat. It was horribly messy, but it was F-U-N fun. Well, until our boss found out.

I was no stranger to work. My dad owned a grocery store and I worked there from ages 8 to 15, candling eggs, bagging potatoes, delivering groceries, stocking shelves, and running the cash register. I also mowed lawns, shoveled snow, babysat, cleaned houses – anything to keep me in the latest Elton John record.
Fast forward…oh…a lot of years. I’ve been in school since fall 2011, learning what I can about nutrition. My goal is to counsel folks who maybe want to lose some weight, ease inflammation, or control their diabetes. I want to work with them, listen to their concerns, give them guidance and a kick in the butt if needed, and to motivate them to do their best. I’m really looking forward to getting back to work, not because I need an Elton John record (although I could use some extra dough to pay for my Pandora and Sirius radio subscriptions), but mostly because I’m itching to help even one person feel better.
Before that happens, though, I need to fix this:
As you know, the old knee’s been going out frequently since March and so it’s finally time for a new one. After denying this fact for weeks, I finally scheduled surgery for September 11. I gave it three months for a number of reasons, one being I turn 50 in August and I wanted to get through the remaining days of my 40s with my original body parts. You see, when I was 18, a doctor told me I’d be in a wheelchair by the time I was 40 because my knees would be so deteriorated. Not only did I get 10 more years out of the old girls, only the right one needs to be replaced in the near future, thanks to the debridement surgery on my left knee (and a surgeon who believed in my ability to rehab fully) three years ago.
I also delayed surgery so I can have time to get my body as strong as possible and be in the best shape nutritionally in order to have the best possible outcome. My surgeon was all for this and wrote me a script for physical therapy. And for physical therapy, there is no one I trust more than Seth.
Seth has seen me through rehab on both of my shouldersand my left knee. He’s not only knowledgeable, he is a teacher, an incredible cheerleader, and has a way of making me laugh, even when I’m hating on him for making me work so dang hard. Given how resistant to (and, I admit, afraid of) this surgery I am, Seth is the only person who can instill the kind of confidence I’ll need to see me through this.
Here we are, me hooked up to the neuromuscular e-stim machine and Seth working the controls and explaining what it does:
Last week, I got a script for the brace Seth recommended called a Playmaker. After my knee went out on the bike trail six weeks ago, I thought all cardio exercise would be off limits since my knee slipped so much. I put this baby on and it’s like my knee is almost normal. I can work out on the stationary bike, and yesterday, I did 10 minutes on the elliptical without any pain. Zero. So…maybe…hmmmm…I don’t need surgery….
Two hours later, I climbed the stairs of my house without the brace. Pain. It’s real. That brace ain’t fairy dust. It’s a tool to help me get by for the next three months. I need a new knee. And I am – seriously – grateful that this technology is available. If I’d been born 100 years earlier, I would have had to suck up the pain; accept it as my destiny. Now, as Seth reminds me, surgery and a few months of rehab is a drop in the bucket of life. A blip.
I am eternally grateful for the people I’ve met here and on Facebook who have either had a knee replacement or knew someone who did. The support and advice have been as essential as Seth’s “prehab” program. I’m especially thankful for the several real-life stories of folks whose lives have improved exponentially after surgery, namely another Lynn who, after having surgery, ran her first 5K four months post-op. I told Seth about her and he said: “You need a goal, especially for those days you’ll be Christmas shopping and your knee is hurting and you’re wondering, ‘Why did I do this?’”
We talked about options. I told him I’ve always wanted to go snow shoeing, but because of my right knee, I couldn’t.
“Make that a goal for January,” he said. “And what about the Pittsburgh Marathon? How about in May 2014, you walk the half?”
I called my daughter, P’burgh M’thon expert Cassie.
“You gotta train,” she said. “Do some 5Ks and a 10K first. You don’t want to be swept up.”
I Googled “marathon sweep up” and hell to the NO! I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder for the sweep bus! I’ll focus my goals on snow shoeing and a 10K. I’ll know later if the half is attainable.

Seth told me to think of this prehab and surgery and rehab as a job. And what did I say I want from my future job? To help even one person to feel better.

So I’ll practice on myself. Right now, that one person is me.

Lift…hold 5 seconds…release. Repeat 30 times. Roll over. Lift…hold 5 seconds…release. Repeat 30 times. Roll over…. Both legs. Calf lifts, band walking, cardio. Oh, and upper body and core, too.

“Yes, boss…I mean, Seth.” (And thank you!)

11 thoughts on “Think Of It As Your Job

  1. Hi, Lynn. I think it is great that you finally decided to have surgery because to be in pain like you are and to have limited ability to exercise is no fun. My stepfather had a knee replacement several years ago (albeit he is a bit older than you are), and he seems to have no problems. He is now 77, and he plays golf, rides the stationary bike, walks on the treadmill, and lifts weights.

    Because I know from your blog how much you enjoy being with your grandkids, I am sure you want to be as active as possible for them too. And the surgery will make that possible.

    Please keep us posted in the upcoming months on your physical therapy. Like you, I think having a physical therapist is crucial. When I had knee problems years ago, my first PT was too young and did not have expertise. After I had surgery on my left knee to clear out cartilege and deaden the nerve endings, I insisted on having an experienced PT. And I credit that PT with weaning me off my knee braces and making me fully functional and active.

  2. I can't wait to read your posts about all the cool things you will be doing with that new knee!
    My father-in-law had both knees replaced in his 70's and was able to get around so much better. He didn't prepare like you are doing, and he was a lot older, but the new knees made his life much more pleasant.
    With all the work you are putting in you will be bouncing back in no time.

  3. I think you are going to be so glad you did your knee. As you know, I do a lot of ortho transcription and so many times I type the words “The patient could not be more pleased with the outcome of the replacement” Yes, there are risks and no guarantee of a good outcome, but there is a time when the issues you currently have outweigh those risks by a large amount.

  4. I worked along side a woman who had both knees done (not at the same time) and she said she doesn't regret it at all and that she can do so much more now! Good luck on your surgery.

  5. Glad you are making a plan and getting yourself to a place of strength before the surgery. Good luck and keep up the good work.

    Mobility and functionality are huge parts of life. I had a supervisor who used to tell me “My beauty days are over, all I want now is a functional knee!” LOL. I totally get it, now.

  6. I don't blame you for being nervous. Your PT sounds really good, though, and I bet your preparation is going to make a big difference.

    You're quite a force now…I can't imagine how powerful you're going to be with a new knee!

  7. You know, I can't help but think your experience in overcoming both chronic pain and mobility limitations will make you even better at your future job. You'll have walked (or hobbled, for a bit) that path and will have a greater understanding of the feelings involved.

  8. Yes to the idea of making it your job! And I love the idea of helping yourself just like you want to help others. Like cammy said, all your experiences will just enhance your ability to truly help others.

    I went (to watch) scuba diving this weekend and there was a 60 year old man going in who had had a total hip done in January!

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