I Dream of Showering Standing Up and Driving Again

It’s the first week of March and I’ve only driven a car 3 times this year. This weekend I went into a store for the first time in 6 weeks and it wasn’t easy. When I started physical therapy a few weeks ago, they asked me what my goals were…what did I want to be able to accomplish. My response was brief – normal life.

When I had my appointment with the surgeon to review my MRI results and discuss options the second week of January, there were some open questions about how extensive the surgery would be. He said to plan for 2 weeks with no weight on my right leg, 4 weeks on crutches and 6 weeks until I would be able to drive. That was hard to hear, but I was in constant pain at the time and knew that I needed to have surgery so I planned for that schedule. I stocked up the house as much as possible the weekend prior to my surgery and every night I had to convince myself that the surgery was necessary and I would get through the next 6 weeks. I really didn’t want to do it.

We had to be at the hospital at 5:30 am that day and a little while later I was in pre-op talking to my anesthesiologist. I signed all of the paperwork and then he told me that if the surgery was as extensive as it might be that I should sign off on a nerve block at that point so I would be able to request it after my surgery (because you can’t authorize anything after general anesthesia). When I woke up from surgery, the post-op nurse was watching me closely and asked if I was in pain. My face was clearly giving it away and once I confirmed my pain level, she quickly paged anesthesiology, gave me a pain pill to swallow and gave me additional medication in my IV. The nerve block provided some relief and I was able breathe normally again. They kept me in post-op for a while longer and then my nurse personally wheeled me upstairs to make sure I was still ok. That’s when Scott told me that they had drilled a channel in my bone to reattach my meniscus and that explained the intense pain. The nurses upstairs gave instructions for my post-op wrap, dealt with my post-op nausea, and helped me get dressed. Then Scott brought me home. And just a few hours after surgery I had to get myself upstairs at home on crutches…I didn’t go back downstairs for 3 days.

The rest of that week was awful. I got lots of texts and emails from friends asking how I was and I didn’t reply to most of them because I was miserable and didn’t want to reply – everything sucks – to people so I said nothing. Thank you to those of you who sent good wishes, I did appreciate them.

One week after surgery I had a post-op appointment, and I got the realistic version of my recovery timeline. 4 weeks no weight on my right leg and then we would determine the timeline for crutches and the brace and driving. 4 weeks is a really long time to rely on one leg and crutches and with my right leg locked straight in a brace.

Fortunately I am able to do my job remotely and my boss has been very supportive of my recovery and the need to work from home. I have heard that others in the office are questioning my need to work from home, I guess they think I am taking advantage the situation. If they had ever experienced something similar they would understand, but I wouldn’t wish this challenging time on anyone.

Scott and the kids have been more helpful than usual and it has been really hard for me to ask for help. Realizing that I was going to get hurt if I tried to manage normal things myself was extremely difficult. The first day I was home alone I made a cup of tea and then realized I couldn’t carry it to a chair so I had to lean on the counter while I drank it – not quite the relaxing cup of tea I had planned. Two weeks after surgery I decided that I wanted to cook a real dinner. I selected one of my favorite one pot meals that is usually prepped in 20 minutes. It took me almost an hour and I nearly fell 3 times.

There have been lots of logistics to work out – transporting me to Dr appointments and physical therapy, picking up kids, and making sure that we have food in the house. My parents have been invaluable. My dad retired at the end of 2017 and has spent a lot of 2018 so far running errands and helping with the kids. My mom has helped with too many things to list.

Physical therapy has been terrible and good at the same time. I am always happy to see the progress each session and disappointed with each new challenge. And then there was the night that I fell flat on my back in the middle on the night on the marble bathroom floor. I was on the floor for a few minutes before I started the process of getting up; I was the only adult in the house that night. Then I had to deal with putting my weight on a leg that was sore from a fall.

I am almost 6 weeks post-surgery now. At 4 weeks I was allowed to start using one crutch at home and those first few days were scary and great and every step felt so odd. After 4 weeks without a free hand, having a hand available is life changing – any mother knows how much you can accomplish one-handed. Now my brace is unlocked so I can bend it to a set point. I am slowly learning to put more weight on that leg and I walk slowly (if you know me, you understand that walking slowly is not my style).

Eventually I will get to pack away the shower chair and I will be able to get dressed without sitting down. There are many more weeks of physical therapy in my future and I won’t be able to attempt even a simple jog until mid-summer. In a few weeks I might even be able to drive myself to PT so I don’t need to wait outside for my ride to pick me up – at least I was able to enjoy some sunshine while I waited on this day.



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