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Learning About Patience and Gratitude After a Knee Surgery

Sharkie Zartman - February 20, 2019 01:33 PM

“You’re going to love it!” “You will be so happy you had it done.” “You’lldo great! Just make sure you do the rehab.”
These were the main responses received when I announced that I was having afull knee replacement in late December. I was excited to get so much supportfrom friends and colleagues, but the best advice by far was: “make sure you dothe rehab.”
To be honest, I never wanted to have this or any surgery. I don’t considermyself to be a good patient and even had one doctor tell me that a while back.But, my quality of life was beginning to go downhill because of my right knee.Teaching, going up and down stairs, standing up after sitting were becomingchallenging and downright painful.  My grandson even noticed once when Iwas playing with him and asked, “Zma, why do you run so funny?” Also, it wasnot only painful, but embarrassing, especially when I was teaching my yogaclass. Nothing like having your leg lock on you when you’re in the middle of apose in front of your students.
Trust me, I tried almost everything to avoid major surgery including creams,supplements, injections, arthroscopic procedures and even stem cells. I thoughtfor sure the stem cells would work since I really do believe in theirpotential, but when they were injected into my knee, it swelled up to twice itssize.
Surgery went well, according to my doctor.  All that was left was forme to recover and do the rehab. When I woke up, I immediately knew that my workwas cut out for me. Even though I wasn’t in pain, I was hooked up to an IV, anerve block, a drain, an ice machine and nurses would come in all the time to“check” on me, do vitals, give me meds, etc. I didn’t sleep for two days. Ithought things would be better when I went home, but that is when I reallystarted to learn some important lessons. As a former athlete, coach, andteacher, I always worked extra hard and went full force to achieve my goals,but now, as I recover, I need to finally learn a virtue I have never possessed.And that is patience.
My home routine for the first three weeks has been structured and slow. Ihave a machine that moves my knee, but I must be on it for six hours a day. Ialso have to ice when I’m not moving or on the machine. I never liked to icebefore, but now because of the pain, ice is my new best friend. I also camehome with pain meds, which I did not want to take, but have done so in order toget through the rehab. I am tapering off, but doing so slowly.
I have a physical therapist who comes to the house and helps with rehab. Heunderstands my personality, which I appreciate, but also keeps me from tryingto do too much. I want to improve, not screw everything up. My doctor said thatrecovery from the surgery would take three to 12 weeks. I was shooting forthree weeks, but now, I think I need to be a little more realistic and take itslow.
Besides the value of patience, I have also learned some other lessons:
1.Never take the small things in your life forgranted. For the first three weeks I cannot take a bath, drink wine, or havesex. (I didn’t know any of this before.) Also, I have trouble sleeping,walking, and cannot drive until I am released from my doctor.
2.Follow the doctor’s orders. Like I mentionedbefore, I have usually done my own thing when it comes to my health. But forsomething like a knee replacement, I have NO clue as to what is best. So I amfollowing orders and am lucky to have a great medical team that I can callwhenever I need them. And trust me. I DO.
3.Some people will disappoint, others will shine.Before my surgery many friends and extended family members said that they wouldcall and check up on me to see how I was doing. Well, about half actually didit. However, my husband has been a trooper. He spent his whole Christmasvacation taking care of me.  Since he is a former volleyball coach, henotices things I need to work on, especially when I am trying to walk.“Heel to toe.  Bend your knees. Make sure your feet are facing forward,not out to the side.” Okay coach!
4.Surgery not only challenges you physically, butemotionally. This was a shocker for me. I thought it would be just aboutgetting my range of motion back in my leg and recovering, but my emotions alsotook a hit. There have been times when I just wanted to cry because I didn’tfeel like I was progressing as fast as I should. I felt like such a burden onmy husband and couldn’t do the things I loved. I have never felt so vulnerablein my life. But I think this is part of the process of recovery process andwhen it’s done, I know that I will be stronger.
So as I move along the road to recovery I am reminded to be thankful for theamazing people in my life who really care about me, including my dad, who is 94years old and has called every night to check on me.  He always gives me afree advice and his latest is to take “baby steps” toward recovery.

Also, now more than ever, I will give thanks for my health and take bettercare of my body. It’s lasted for more than 68 years, and it’s about time Istarted to appreciate it.  Here’s to a new year with my new knee. Ipromise I will take better care of you and thanks for teaching me the value ofpatience. I needed to learn that.

This blog was originally posted on the Daily Breeze. Click here to read.

Sharkie Zartman is a health and fitness professor, an All-American Volleyball athlete, an established author of  more than  six books, a radio host, speaker,  and holistic health coach.

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