The next time I come here to Hawaii,(note the optimism) I will have a new knee and less girth. I am still on Chicago time, and so I rise in time to see the parade of joggers and runners starting their day with an ocean view and a healthy regimen. I am feeling pretty blob-like, since the peg-leg stance I have to utilize to get around has left me limited. That is no excuse – I am able to do non-weight bearing exercise. I tried the exercise bike, and when the electronic readout told me I burned 80 calories in a boring 1/2 hour, I quit. I will have to work on this. Maybe I will ask for an elliptical trainer for Christmas. It will be a good thing to have better all over strength when I get the new knee. And I WILL get that knee. Dr. Collins: be ready for my next assault.
The zig zag route to joint replacement has had me going through a check list of protocols. It is like being given a BINGO card- and having to wait until you cross off enough symptoms and pre-treatments. Immobility and pain? Check. Stiffness? Check. Clicking sounds as the kneecap chips away? Check. Cortisone? Check. Rehab? Check. Arthroscopic surgery? Check, and double check. Zero cartilage. Synvisc? Check. Pain meds? Check.
In the meantime, I hold my breath that overcompensating with my right leg will erode the cartilage there. And my bones are osteopenic- not quite Sally Field time, but apparently I have not banked enough calcium. Did you know that women absorb all the calcium they will ever
get by age 28? Then they withdraw it- especially via childbearing. That is why we need to add calcium and the vitamin D needed for absorption every day- just to protect the meager supply we have left. Good thing I like cheese and sour cream. (The preceding was a public service announcement. Young women should enjoy cream in their coffee and yogurt for every meal.)
A batch of x-rays and MRIs have told the same story: I need a new knee. Why? Arthritis, misuse, pigeon toed life- no one really cares why. It is GO time in my left leg and in my head, but I do not have BINGO yet. It is the richest irony that the Doctor will let me hobble now so I can dance in my 70’s and 80’s. My Doctor has a great reputation, but he is clearly conservative. I have gained 15 pounds with my protection of the leg, and I imagine that will only get worse. I bought a bike this summer, then sprained my knee planting flowers as I cantilevered over the garden. Prescription: a month without stress. A step forward, a half step backward. I am getting impatient. Steve is a good sport, but I am an albatross on vacation.
Maybe that is the secret: getting impatient enough to shop for a new Doctor, or just crying with pain and despair so the Doctor will say “yes!” Whatever it is, I will do it. Every one I know who had this surgery says it changes their lives. I would welcome a night where I could turn over without waking up to brace the knee. I am in attack mode, triggered by all the ambulation I am seeing oceanside. And the skinnies.
Of course, Steve is planning to spend the bulk of the winter in Florida, a dream which he has earned with a lifetime outside his California dream. I am staying Up North to hold down the home front. I have good friends, but I think that I will wait for Steve to help me through this mess. I do not wish to rehab when there is ice on the ground and I will be house bound. And despite my hobbled status, I am planning a Netherlands River Cruise with my traveling friends. I have already bought 3 types of knee braces, and I am determined to see those tulips bloom, and Dutch Masters’ paintings. When I return, my knee will be transformed via orthopedic surgery. Then my life will be transformed. I will dance at Mike’s wedding. That is my Hawaiian resolution. It is a good, and attainable goal.