Friday, June 29, 2012

on the path to recovery

Well, back again and it is now nearly four weeks after the big cut..... So far so good, the knee is doing everything it is supposed to be doing, I can bend to about 130 degrees, I can straighten it and, when I walk little distances without a crutch I don't wobble anymore.  The things one can get excited about.

A get well picture from the daughter of a workfriend
I'm down to one crutch now and little distances at home without any.  I have learnt to take it slowly as last weekend overdid it a bit and the knee became swollen and painful again.  One of the most blissful things was finally being able to take a bath last week.  I love my bath, I love relaxing in it and having a soak, but the surgeon had said no immersion in water until the wound is completely healed.  Different surgeons have different guidelines I have learnt, some don't worry about immersion and others do.  But the reading I have done suggests infection is one of the biggest worries with knee replacements, next to DVT which of course can kill you.  So I took the path of caution and stayed out of the water, which made it even more special when, after 3 weeks, I got the all clear.  Re the DVT the precaution is pressure stockings which are a special form of torture, the recommendation is to wear them for six weeks.  I managed for 3, dropping down to only wearing them at night after one week, when I was home from hospital, and so far I have survived. 

Next to having a bath the  most blissful was going to hydrotherapy.  Found the Royal Talbot which is a ten minute drive from here.  Had been relying on the doona stealing weasel to take me there but, just to have an excuse not to look after me for a few days, he developed shingles, on his face, with swollen eyes so he could not see. I decided he was probably not the safest form of transport.  So booked a taxi, which arrived 20 minutes late, but I made it, and thankfully got picked up by my saviour neighbour, otherwise I would probably still be waiting.  If you have aching joints and have not done hydrotherapy then you are missing out.  The pool is warmed, a bit like a warm, but not hot, bath.  The physio assesses you first then gives you tailored exercises depending on which part of the body is the issue. And in the water I can walk, I can step up and down and  I can squat.  Without pain!  The water takes the stress off the joints and enables you to do exercises you would not otherwise be able to do.  It is magical.  And you get to mix with a bunch of oldies who are at different levels of mobility.
No it's not me it's Ari enjoying the bath!
So the good things: 
First the steady improvement, finding movement is easier each day and learning to manage pain - not that I've had a lot but the best lesson I have learnt is that it is better to take something not too strong like Panadol regularly, like 3 or 4 times a day, than strong painkillers when you feel the pain.  The message is avoid the pain, and then somehow the brain learns that there is no pain so in the end the pain decreases, whereas if you don;t take them untilyou feel pain, the brain learns there is pain and gears itself up to it.  (Well that's my scientific explanation anyway)

Second has been how lovely people are.  The doona stealing weasel of course who tried to cater to my every need until the attack of shingles.  His son who came down from Sydney and helped distract him from worrying about me.   Friends who've dropped in to ease the boredom of hanging around the house, neighbours who've helped with shopping particularly while the doona stealing weasel was not able to drive, neighbours who brought in meals and helped to walk the dog.  Em coming to stay for a couple of days, Bec and family visiting and being brave enough to allow the boys to stay here for a few hours and entertain me.  Tyke and Ari helping carry out the washing and bring in firewood. Our gardener who everytime he comes, stacks the firewood inside for us.

Third has been the weather.  I deliberately waited until winter and it has proved to be a brilliant idea.  When it's cold and raining outside you don't mind being stuck inside.  But of course being Melbourne we still get sunshine, particularly in the morning.  It shines through the lviing room windows and I can sit in my old nanna chair and feel the warmth through the glass while I watch the birds and look out on the garden.  Or I can get down to the park and sit in the sun (with several layers of clothing to withstand the icy wind!) while the dog runs around and again thanks to friends who have helped get me and the dog down to the park and then played games with her while we were there.  We can light the fire and enjoy the warmth and comfort that provides, and have a lovely glass of red (once I stopped the morphine) resting on the hearth.

The nanna chair in the sun
Fourth is where we live, it's just around the corner from a small strip shopping centre, so I have been able to hobble up to the little supermarket, to the doctors and to the optometrist, so don't feel quite so trapped.  And we have several coffee places that I have been able to walk to (with crutches) when I want to get out of the house and treat myself to a good coffee. 

So I am bloody lucky, I know that and have learnt to appreciate even more the people and things which help to make my life comfortable and worthwhile.  The downside has been the debate (or lack of it) about asylum seekers and the solution and the inability of the parliament ot find a humane solution.  I must admit to having shifted from being in favour of only on shore processing to looking at other alternatives, given the number of people who have drowned while trying to get here.  I think the answer is a regional solution but that will take time and we can't wait for more boats to sink.  But the coalition and the Greens are so entrenched and while they cry and make impassioned speeches they won't make any concessions or even allow the Government to try a new approach.  Let's hope that the work of the committee will find a workable solution.

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