“She’s the ‘bilateral’,” I heard the nurse mention to the aide that entered the room with her.
I turned my head towards the door and moved my bed up with the cool electronic device that enables you to remain motionless for as long as you want. Considering the fact that my body felt like it had rolled down a mountain at full speed bouncing off of every rock and boulder it encountered, that was precisely what I wanted.
It had been three days since both of my total knee replacements, and the most I had done myself was howl each time I was helped in and out of the wheelchair. The powers that be insist you go to the bathroom “yourself” after having both knees completely rebuilt. (Because surely it doesn’t hurt THAT much.)
I had been moved to the rehab facility the night before, and was pretty convinced that I would never, EVER walk again, let alone slide out of a bed.
The nurse, however, was convinced otherwise.
“Let’s go! Time for PT!” she said with a smile as she pushed the wheelchair towards the bed. I looked at her thinking she was out of her mind and then willed my legs to slide towards the side of the bed.
They didn’t listen.
I forced my bed to the upright-est position I could and then grabbed my legs and gently pushed them over. “Sweet Jesus in heaven” I muttered. I would say far worse things than that before the days PT session was over.
I was wheeled down the hall where I met a lovely and energetic young girl about Bitchy’s age. (Except she was a lot NICER.) She explained who she was and what our goals were. I smiled and tried to make light, humorous conversation. It wasn’t easy. She excused herself for a few moments to attend to several other “clients” who were working on various pieces of equipment around the room.
I took that time to take in my surroundings. I had been wheeled into what looked like a high school gymnasium. The walls were filled with inspirational quotes written in larger than life print. The room itself was filled with short “massage” tables, designed for patients to lay on while practiced certain exercises. In one corner there were more than 50 walkers of all shape and size, as well as wheelchairs and other walking aides. There were other tables peppered around the room for patients working on activities designed for hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill practice. There were many other torture devices around the room, but I was distracted by the clients I saw moving to and fro around the room engaged in their own journey back from the dead. From what I could see, I was almost the youngest in the room. I noticed a young man who appeared in his twenties with what looked like a severe head injury working very hard to pedal something with his arms. I looked away, trying hard not drown in the sea of emotion these sights had thrust me into. If I looked too closely at all of the struggles, I wouldn’t have the strength to face my own.
My therapist joined me with a walker. I looked at her and laughed. “Really? You want me to get UP?”
“That’s right. Your rehab begins NOW, lady!” she said smiling, but with just enough of a challenge for this ex-gymnast to accept.
I grabbed the walker and forced myself up. "Holy Mother of GOD!" I said through clenched teeth. I looked at her and then put one foot in front of the other. I slowly made my way around the room. It seemed like an eternity, but it might have been ten minutes. She showed me a few exercises we would be working on, and after a very painful hour she wheeled me back to my room.
“You were great. We’ll see you three or four times a day, and you’ll do better each time. Don’t get discouraged! Baby steps here; you’ll make baby steps each day.”
She managed to help me into my bed and got me comfortable. It wasn’t until she turned and walked out of the room that I closed my eyes and let the tears flow.
This wasn’t gonna be easy.
But, unlike many of the “clients” I had encountered that morning, I knew I WAS going to get better. I knew I WAS going to stand on my own, I knew I WAS going to shower on my own, and soon I knew I WAS going to walk out of here.
It was just a matter of kicking my own @$$. But I think I’ve had a lot of practice in that area….