Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TRAVELING IN THE WHEELCHAIR OF LIFE: Part 1 – Expect the Unexpected - May 17, 2008

I’ve had a bum knee for eighteen years. It all began, one summer day, when I bent down to tie my Nike and something slipped out of place in my knee, resulting in excruciating pain. An MRI revealed nothing sinister, and I’ve dealt with my malady these many years.

I knew it was just a matter of time before I’d need to undergo surgery. After all, my family had endured fourteen knee surgeries. My brother, Michael, has had three, my daughter, Beth, four and my niece, Kelly, takes the prize with seven. All of the above are athletic people. I, on the other hand, am a klutz. The closest I come to displaying athletic ability is when I ride my recumbent tricycle.

Well, recently, along with my knee innards feeing like shifting sand, I developed a huge lump on the back of my knee. I immediately thought CANCER! and made a doctor’s appointment. The lump turned out to be a cyst caused by my knee leaking oil. Sounds like a problem for an old jalopy, doesn’t it? Surgery was in order.

I chose to have my surgery this spring because I want to be up and running by the time Evan, my seven-month-old grandson, begins walking. If he’s anything like his daddy, I have a mere two months before I need this knee back in service for toddler chasing.

A few days before my date with surgery, I dug Beth’s crutches out of a cobwebbed corner of the basement and gave them a try. I couldn’t crutch three steps without keeling over. The doctor had said I’d only need to use them for two days following surgery, so I figured I could manage with a walker for that brief time.

When the doctor got his teeny-tiny scope, instruments and camera inside my knee, he discovered it was in much worse shape than the MRI and x-rays had revealed. After cleaning away the damaged cartilage and arthritis, he performed a microfractive surgery, which is medical-ese for drilling tiny holes in my knee. If this procedure works, my knee will develop new cartilage. Oh, not like the cartilage I was born with—more like a scab, I’m told, which is better than having no bone coverage at all.

“Well, she’s not going to be happy with me,” predicted my gown-clad orthopedic surgeon. He was speaking to my husband, immediately following surgery, as I slept blissfully nearby.

I appreciate my surgeon’s thoroughness in tending to my knee. Unfortunately, recovery from microfractive surgery takes lots longer than for a simple trim-some-cartilage-and-get-out surgery. I’m not allowed to bear weight on my left leg—for six weeks. I’m dismayed by this unexpected turn, but I know my surgeon operated in my best interest.

So, instead of spending spring time in the great out-of-doors riding my trike, gardening, hiking among the wildflowers in the woods, etc., I’m a wheelchair wallflower.

In my better moments, I look at this unexpected turn as fodder for writing. In my less-than-better moments, I feel sorry for myself; I yell at the dogs for walking, ever so s-l-o-w-l-y, in front of my wheelchair; and I whine to my husband, but not too much. I need to stay in his good graces. He’s currently my ticket to freedom, and I certainly wouldn’t want to alienate him. I balance my whining with words of appreciation, to which he sarcastically says, “You owe me big time.”

So over the next few weeks, I will be whining (er, I mean, writing) about “Traveling in the Wheelchair of Life.” Maybe next week I’ll tell you about my wheelchair wheelie—but only if you promise not to squeal on me to my surgeon.

As for my toddler chasing, while I’m confident I can keep up with Evan on the straight-aways in my wheelchair, it’s the turns and stairs that have me concerned. His mommy and daddy announced on Wednesday that Evan is now crawling. It’s going to be a tight race as to who will be up on their feet first.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who
love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

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