At the end of January, things seemed to be getting better with the knee. I was no longer on crutches, I could drive. And then…then something happened. I don't know what. I do know the pain in my leg woke me up in the middle of the night, and I had a hard time getting back to sleep. The next day, when I tried walking, my knee would buckle-it felt as if a nerve was getting pinched and I just couldn't support it properly. Back to crutches. Back to hobbling. It felt like a huge setback. I was scared because I didn't know what was happening-and then, the doubt about my recovery snuck in and I started wondering if I would ever be able to even walk normally again.
I walked into physical therapy that week, on crutches, and just started bawling. (Incidentally, that was also the day the new physical therapist started, so I'm sure that was a great way for him to start a new job!) You know, physical therapists are amazing, because along with the physical stuff, they also have to deal with meltdowns like the one I had and my new therapist did a great job. He tested my leg, and reassured me that everything was just fine and this was just a setback but not to worry because it happens and it's ok, and I'm going to be ok, and we're going to get through this and so forth.
Turns out, I have a lot of scar tissue in there and it needs to get broken up (which is not a pleasant process whatsoever-they massage the area, tissue massage, to break up the scarring, and it hurts like hell!! But when you can walk better afterward, it is so worth it!) And I have adhesions, which is basically what it sounds like, things sticking together that shouldn't be sticking together. fun. And we've been working on it and I've steadily been improving.
One of the most difficult aspect of the recovery process is learning to accept that I cannot do things that I used to be able to do. I have to learn to be patient with myself. And be kind to myself. There are days I am so frustrated, thinking, "Damn! Why is it so difficult to just step. up. one. step??!" I can't walk for very long yet. Standing in one place is tolerable only for a bit before I need to sit. And don't even get me started on things like going out, which I now avoid going out because I just don't want to deal with standing, or trying to find a place to sit, or parking and then walking, and then dealing with the crowds, or weaving through people to find somewhere to sit. No. No. No. Just no. I can't handle that yet.
And in one of my moments of frustration, I realized that while it's been 4 months since the last surgery, it's only just over a month since that little setback so I need to give myself some slack. I've made great progress since then. No more crutches. I'm starting to walk a bit better (it's a really weird feeling when it feels like your leg is flopping as you walk because the muscles just aren't there yet.) AAAANDDDD…
Today was great! I was actually able to swim. Like really swim! And kick. And not have it hurt! (I tried the other day and it was still too tender.) These little breakthroughs always seem to follow a bout of depression/frustration. Now, the key thing is to not charge full steam ahead.
Patience, grasshopper. Take it slow and easy. Do just enough so you feel it and then let it go. Today, I swam a bit. Did some leg exercises in the pool. Stretched. Swam a little bit more. And then, that was it. I could have done more. I could have pushed it. But I didn't. I'm learning.