I recently had knee replacement surgery. Following years of gel injections, cortisone shots, meniscus repair surgery, physical therapy, and lots and lots of ibuprofen, I could not take the pain, the limping, and bowlegs any longer. So I signed up for surgery. Friends and acquaintances used expressions such as “life changing” and “new lease on life” to describe the aftermath of the surgery.
I guess because the outcome is so good– the new knee recipient is miraculously able to squat like a toddler and hike the Inca Trail– people don’t really mention how much it HURTS! I also awoke with nerve damage causing foot drop or palsy. This floppy foot has not been my friend as I undergo physical therapy to rehab my knee. “This is really rare” was hardly the reassuring response I sought from my orthopedist. Joint doctors, I’ve been told, are interpersonal eggplants.
I spent an endless night pushing the call button for the unfortunate nurse working the graveyard shift to help me and my plus one- my faithful IV poll, to the bathroom. Joint Replacement Boot camp is a requirement before hospital release is permitted. I failed joint replacement boot camp. My fellow campers were all sporting new hips and appeared to be zipping through the prescribed exercises. What is your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10, we were asked. Around 2 several said. (10 being I feel like I’m crawling across broken glass naked). I said 8 and please give me another pain pill.
The boot camp commandant finally allowed me to leave and ultimately check out of the hospital. Since our townhouse is two-story with our master on the second floor, a hospital bed seemed to be the sleeping solution. Have you ever actually slept in a rented hospital bed? They are horrible. Climbing over the metal railings with my bum leg was excruciating. And of course, I had to pee virtually every two hours. My devoted caregiver husband even slept on the sofa downstairs to keep tabs on my midnight walker wanderings.
Ok, so I think I have accurately, albeit dramatically, set the stage for my state of misery during my post surgery stint. But did my misery and worry over my dangling foot deter people from pulling at my suffering psyche for their own benefit? That would be a big no.
Segue time…. I’ve been thinking about angels lately. Perhaps because more than a few have been providing meals and other heavenly concoctions following my surgery. But beyond cherubs, I’m actually referring to those real live people who step forward to take on emotional and or physical responsibility for others. I believe a lot of Baby Boomer women fit this angelic profile. These kinds of angels don’t sprout wings or have halos. They are not showy and don’t need to be the focus of attention. Their number one defining angel attribute is their ability to listen –with their whole selves and without judgment.
A dear family member, accustomed to relying on me as their periodic oxygen tank, was confronted with yet another crisis. And this family member, bless her heart, does not suffer in silence. Not when she can unload her anxiety on to me. I gently reminded her of my brokenness. “Oh I’m so sorry. That is awful. What can I do to help?” – Sincere sympathy lasting five minutes and then “Now, back to me.”
Recognizing my limited emotional bandwidth, another family member stepped up to the rescue. Crisis averted, I had to grudgingly laugh during the course of a phone call when she said, “My boss sucks, but I’m really loving all this family bonding time.” Oy ve! #the life of a reluctant angel.