The first PT session after my urgent appointment with my surgeon was the worst. The pain had been so bad, I hadn’t done any of my prescribed exercises for five days, and I limped in like a beat up old boxer who had fought one too many fights. I may have been a bit mopey.
I explained to my PT what had transpired in the 10 days since my last appointment, and he agreed that we would take it easy and work to strengthen my hips and glutes to take some of the pressure off my knee. But he still told me to warm up on the elliptical. I hate showing weakness, so I hopped on and started my warm-up. Less than a minute in, I knew something was going horribly wrong. I was determined to get through it; I mean, we were only talking seven minutes on a relatively low setting. But it was everything I could do to hold back the cursing.
Always wanting to look on the bright side, I have to say that I am impressed with how much and how well I can compensate with my good leg for my bad. I’m pretty amazing at it. And it doesn’t even require me to think; my body just does it. I have to really think to make my body stop compensating and focus on using my right leg.
I was done with the elliptical, and I went to sit down on one of the tables while I waited for T-Bone to finish up with another patient and bring the Graston tools. Since I was already sitting on the edge of the table, he asked me to do a couple active extensions (bringing my leg from 90 degrees to hold it straight out in front of me) so he could see what my surgeon had talked about. I couldn’t do it. The pain was so intense, it felt like there was something physically in my knee that was preventing me from straightening it. And then what happened? Did I give my poor leg a little help with my good leg? Nope. I put my head down, covered my face with my hands and started crying.
Oh, the embarrassment! Crying is not my natural reaction to… anything, really. I cried at Forrest Gump, and I’ve twice cried through Where the Red Fern Grows. But I don’t cry too often at real life. Ok, I did cry once a few weeks back when I was overwhelmingly frustrated with my recovery, but it was in my car, and there was no one around, so that only half counts. I’m much more likely to curse at pain. For example, when I broke my knee nearly three years ago now, I didn’t shed one tear. Instead, I yelled “Sh*t!” quite loudly in front of people I had never cursed in front of before. Shocking and eye-opening for them. I also continued to stand and walk on my leg for about 30 minutes after I broke it. I’m kind of bad ass like that.
Look, the point is that I don’t cry, and yet there I was, in the middle of the therapy room with at least seven other therapists and their patients, crying. I started apologizing to my therapist who was all, “Hey, don’t worry. I’m sure it’s frustrating.” Yes, but more so painful. And to make things worse, I was really upset with myself for breaking down in the first place, which just compounded the tears.
“Can I please get a tissue?”
Who just sits there and watches someone cry without offering them a tissue? Ok, fine. I likely caught him off guard because I usually spend my PT sessions with him talking jive about how I’m the valedictorian of knee surgery, and I’m going rock climbing in three weeks.
Once the crying spell was over, I informed him that I’m going to begin self-medicating with vodka. I’d seen another patient come in with a water bottle, and I pointed out how well that would work to carry in my “potato water.” He said, “I don’t care as long as I can’t smell it. I hate the smell of vodka. I’m strictly a beer man.”
“That’s cool. I’ll get some mixer, and we’ll pretend it’s lemonade. By the way, beer is disgusting; it smells like rotten apples.”
Don’t worry, Mom. I’m only kidding about the vodka (kind of).
So we’re working on my hips and glutes, and I’m looking all around for a better attitude. It’s been slipping for a few weeks now, but I completely hit a wall last week. I’ve been packing around a bad attitude since my appointment with the surgeon. I’m working on it, though, because I’m tired of hanging out with my own grumpy self. I keep reminding myself that my next goal (when I see the surgeon again) is only six weeks away–only six weeks. That’s nothing. I got this.
“You’re never a loser until you quite trying.” – Mike Ditka
“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.” – Laird Hamilton
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.” – Satchel Paige
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong
“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.” – Matt Biondi
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan