I started this post from the St. Joseph’s Hospital cafeteria and have since moved to the surgical waiting room. It is funny how this place somehow feels like home to me. The smells, the people, the morning prayer over the speakers throughout the building; it is all so familiar and somehow so comforting.
I am spending my day off in the hospital across town from where I work because my mom is currently undergoing a left knee replacement. She is only 60 (sorry mom), relatively young for needing the surgery. In the past weeks as I have told people about the upcoming procedure I have been met almost exclusively with a response of “but she is so young” or “why would she need that?”. The interesting thing is that she is young, she is healthy, she doesn’t currently participate in active sports that would have injured her. In fact, the surgery has been needed for years, about 40 of them actually. You see, my mom injured her knee in 1976 while auditioning for grad school. The torn cartilage was removed from the knee, the treatment for such a tear in those years. She worked through the pain in grad school, then a professional dance career in New York City. She taught aerobics and dance, took classes regularly when I was a little girl. Yet, since before I can remember the knee has caused her pain and loss of mobility. First she was not able to do as much in dance classes, then could do nothing at all. She went from teaching to not teaching, then stopped hiking, stopped being able to go down stairs easily like the rest of us.
In the weeks and days leading up to the surgery she has verbalized increased pain in the knee. She realized the other day that maybe the pain is because an end is in site, it is finally going to be fixed, and because of that her body is finally aware of what a pain the knee is being. This morning, as she wheeled off the to operating room she was scared. She is nervous for the pain and the long road of recovery ahead of her. Last night at dinner she even seemed to second guess her decision for surgery “maybe it isn’t so bad after all?” she said.
While I laughed and probably called her crazy last night, and this morning refrained from rolling my eyes as I thought “you are nervous for pain and recovery from something that has hurt since before I was born.” But the kind empathetic human in me recognizes the pain is different. The fear is rational because it will hurt to recover. The bone on bone pain is familiar but the physical therapy pain will be different. The fear, the hesitation she feels is normal.
And then it dawned on me, how many old wounds am I not healing because the process of moving forward, the therapy and rehab will, well, hurt. It seems so easy to carry around pain that is familiar. It becomes a part of you, and then eventually, in a way it starts to comfort you. It is stable, it is known, it is something you control. New pain however, the pain of fixing and moving on, the process of working toward recovery is completely different and it hurts. Yet, if we are willing to put the work in, and feel that pain, we can move on, a weight lifted, a functional knee. My mom will hike again. She may not dance again but she can do pilates, yoga, lift weights. She will be able to use her body the way she has wanted to without a bum knee holding her back. For 36 years the knee has progressively caused more issues and now its reign is over.
What “injuries” have you been holding on to, avoiding repair? I can think of a few and I think it may be time to get them fixed.
My body feels exhausted from the holidays still. My friend Davia reminded me this morning than sleep is a part of balance, I think I have forgotten that bit temporarily. I made it to both crossfit and yoga twice last week. I am aiming for three times each this week. I am just today no longer sore from last week’s work outs which I suppose is my body’s way of saying get back to it.
I speak for my mom as well as my family and myself when I say prayers are much appreciated over the coming weeks. I suppose I have had in my head that this surgery is nothing compared to the double mastectomy of 2011. I think that is the nurse in me, and I have forgotten how long this recovery will be. I plan to spent a good amount of time in Caz the coming weeks playing RN/PT. Those who know me well will know my patience and empathy will be tried. I do better caring for strangers than close family members. But, I am hoping in a way of self improvement I will be patient, loving, and empathetic for my mom. I think I met the challenge well with the breast surgery. That is until I told my mom to stop being dramatic about the cat bite that subsequently landed her in the hospital for a few days of IV antibiotics… but I digress…
Have a wonderful day everyone. Take a moment to say a prayer for my mom (who just hit the recovery room) and also take a moment to think about the hurts you have been carrying, maybe now is the time to let them go and suffer through the recovery. The life on the other side is better, I am sure of it.