Recovery land

I’m sitting on the back porch, with my right leg elevated on cushions and an ice pack draped across my newly replaced knee. I’m beginning week four of recovery and hitting all the milestones. Straighten leg—check. Activate quadriceps muscles—check. Bend beyond 90 degrees—check. Walk with a cane and a normal gait—check. Walk without a cane—check. Wean off pain pills so I can drive again—in process.

I tell friends that I’m an impatient patient. But “patient” is the wrong term. We were told in the pre-op class that we should not view ourselves as ill and were encouraged to bring street clothes to wear on the hospital unit. I was up and walking a few steps on day 1, walking up and down the hall on day 2, climbing stairs on day 3, and then sent home to recover.

I don’t feel ill—it’s more a feeling of being suspended in time. This is partly due to pain meds, which make me sleepy, content to mindlessly surf around the Internet and let time drift by.

Or at least that was the case in the first couple of weeks. Now that I’m reducing the pain meds and regaining energy, restlessness has sidled in.

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I’ve been nesting on my back porch daybed, which gives me a limited view of the world—the rhododendrons that flank the east and north side of the porch, an occasional bird that lights there, preens, sings, and flies off. If I turn my head to the left, I see the pink bloom of filipendula, grass, evergreens. Occasionally a critter of some sort scampers through—squirrels, groundhogs, rabbits, one day a spotted fawn. My gardens are blooming and thriving but seen for now from a distance. Soon I’ll venture out for a closer look but that feels like a next week activity.

My days have a rhythm. Morning means coffee and toast, the welcome coolness of morning air, easy contentment as I slowly wake up, maybe write a little, check Twitter, look at an online newspaper, ease into the day.

Afternoons stretch longer and desire clashes with reality. Mind and spirit want to go and do—body is not quite ready.

I pace around my small house. I might venture out for a walk down the driveway, across the street and down a ways, mindful that however far I go, I need to do the same distance on return.

Now, the sun is out and the air is steamy. Ten minutes ago, a thunderstorm raced through, a few loud claps of thunder, brief torrential rain. Another storm is on its way—I hear thunder in the distance. There are lessons to learn about accepting the present moment, whatever that moment brings.

I hear myself thinking, ah, I’m missing out on summer but of course I’m not—I’m just having a different summer than usual. A porch summer, a recovery summer, a summer to ease back into my busy life, slowly, one degree of bend, one step at a time.

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My cruising around the Internet sometimes takes me to delightful places, such as this clip of Natalie Merchant and the Kronos Quartet. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbxwa_ie3dQ