Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feeling Like Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle fell asleep under a tree one day and woke up twenty years later to find that his world had changed a bit.  I didn't fall asleep under a tree, but the after-effects of knee surgery have rendered me only semi-functional for almost a month.  Now that I'm off the heavy-duty pain medication, I'm trying to catch up on things that have been neglected. 

Could it be that a month in our fast-paced modern world is equivalent to twenty years in Rip's slower paced 19th century world?  Maybe not, but it's amazing what can pile up in a 21st century month.  I had hundreds of junk e-mails to be deleted from computer, netbook, and iPhone. 

There was a mountain of postal mail - almost all of it destined for the trash can.  I'm not a radical tree-hugging environmentalist, but I think all this junk mail is a terrible waste of natural resources.  But then I guess the design, printing, and delivery of junk mail provides a lot of jobs.

Why do upscale mail-order companies produce a new catalog every week?  The merchandise is always the same and the prices seldom vary.  But every week there's a newly designed catalog.  No wonder their prices are outrageous - they've got to pay for those slick publications.

Why do charitable organizations send you a letter, asking for a donation, with a dime or nickel attached to the letter?  Is this the unspoken message: "You're going to feel guilty if you keep our coin, so assuage your guilt by sending us $20.00 - or better still, $200.00."  I put these coins, along with my pocket change, in a charity piggy bank to be donated to someone or some organization at Christmas.

Do politicians know that all those flyers they have printed up go straight to the trash can as soon as their backs are turned? 

Maybe my out-of-commission month can't really be compared to Rip Van Winkle's twenty years, but I doubt if it's an exaggeration to say that I get more mail in a month than Rip got in twenty years.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Me, My Knee, and Feline Therapy

I had knee replacement surgery three weeks ago.  During my three day hospital stay the nurses brought me various pills at regular intervals.  Of course, I had some discomfort; but for the most part I wondered what all the hooplah about knee surgery was all about.  The classes I had attended in preparation for the event had emphasized that knee surgery is a BIG DEAL.  I reclined on my hospital bed - under the influence of powerful pain medication - and decided everybody had exaggerated.   "Knee surgery is a piece of cake," I mused.

The first night at home was a nomadic affair.  My husband and I assessed all the beds in the house to see where we thought I'd be the most comfortable.  We decided our bed was too high.  The Futon in the front bedroom was too low.  The four-poster bed in the guest room seemed to be just right.  Thinking it to be the perfect Goldilocks "just right" solution, I tried to get comfortable on a pile of pillows.  It didn't take me long to discover that - even with all the pillows - I wasn't elevated enough.  My nose stopped up and I couldn't breathe. 

I moved to the recliner in the front bedroom.  I found a reasonably comfortable position for my poor knee.  It seemed to be a little more demanding than it was in the hospital.  Even so, I went sound asleep.   I woke up about two hours later, wondering why my face felt like a block of ice.  I figured out that the recliner is positioned right where the air-conditioning vent blows a steady blast of cold air.  This is Louisiana, not Montana, so I don't have a supply of ski masks at hand - and I wasn't about to turn the air-conditioning off.  I had no choice but to relocate.

Jerry helped me up.  All of a sudden my knee has become a real issue.  It's very picky about how I move it.  We gather up pillows, throws, water bottle, medicine, lip balm, and God knows what else.  I grab hold of my walker and struggle down the hall to the livingroom recliner where I'm finally able to get as comfortable as my knee would let me get.  Jerry went to sleep on the couch.

I had no idea a cat could wake you up from a sound sleep just by looking at you.  Under normal circumstances Teche, our big black and white cat, is confined to the livingroom-kitchen area of the house at night while we occupy the bedroom part of the house.  Teche is not used to his territory being invaded at night.  Several times I woke up to discover my favorite feline, sitting on the arm of my recliner, with his nose about three inches from mine - giving me an intense stare.  I thought his look plainly said, "You DO know that something is WRONG with you?!"  I'm still grateful that he made no attempt to get on my lap and spread himself out over my incision.  I don't know why he didn't recline on my lap because, heaven knows, he's a dedicated lap cat.  I'm always amazed by the savviness of animals.  Apparently Teche knows that my lap is unfit,  and he is content - even now - to visit me from his position on the arm of the chair.

We continue to spend most nights in the livingroom.  Teche has adjusted to this new arrangement.  But his brand of cat therapy includes getting the people up by 6:30 a.m.  He's not happy until the curtains are open, the lights are on, and the coffee's brewing.  "They can sleep in my part of the house," he thinks, "but they'll do it on my time schedule."

I came home from the hospital on a Friday.  The official physical therapist came on Monday morning - a perfectly harmless-looking young woman with a pleasant, perky demeanor.  I've come to realize that therapists are many-layered people.  Don't be fooled for one minute by that harmless facade.  Over the last two weeks she has made me do things that I wouldn't do to a perfectly good knee - let alone one that that has been cut into.  I wonder about her memory.  At times she seems to forget that my left knee has suffered recent violence at the hands of the surgeon.  She acts like we're simply carrying out an exercise program to strengthen perfectly good knees.

On two occasions I barely saw her out the front door before having a crying meltdown - declaring loudly to my husband that, not only is knee surgery a BIG DEAL, it's a MISTAKE! ------- But today, I'm optimistic.  Therapy seems to be getting a little easier.  I got through another day of it and lived to tell about it.  I'm able to get around the house pretty good without my walker.  This morning I cleaned the kitchen and walked around the house, picking up various out-of-place items that had accumulated on the kitchen bar.  It occurred to me that I could not have done these tasks before surgery without having to have several sitting-down breaks. 

So maybe all this therapy is paying off.  Maybe knee surgery is not a mistake after all.  We'll see.  The jury is still out.  There will probably be more crying meltdowns in the future, but somehow I think maybe the worst is over.  Just maybe.  Now, let's see - is it time for a pain pill?