I may have mentioned Ginny and I were having our knees replaced. Wrote about it repeatedly, to the point of boring everyone sockless. Now I can tell y0u, it’s all done. Since January, I’ve had two knees replaced and Ginny has had one. What no one told us was that the hard part had just begun.
The specialists call it ‘physical therapy.’ The surgeries were a walk in the park, relatively speaking. The pump you up with tons of painkillers, you don’t really notice that someone has sliced open your knees and put titanium-and-plastic replicas in place. Until about day two, when the painkillers wear off and you’re getting ready to go home.
That’s where physical therapy comes in. Mostly, it consists of exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles, keep the new joint fluid and smooth, and build up your endurance to walk around the block, go shopping for dog food or simply get around the house. It’s not that difficult. Except for the blue foam box they gave you at the hospital.
It’s a simple device, about 12″X12″ with a rectangular space about 3″ deep cut into the top. You lay on the bed, extend your leg with the new knee and prop it on the space and let gravity take over. The weight of your leg pulls the knee down, pulling on the tendons, helping straighten the leg in something like a normal position. You do this three times a day for 20 minutes. That’s it. Except that after a few minutes, your suddenly freakishly heavy leg pulls down on the newly abused tendons and muscles with great pain. And it grows worse. Time stops. And you begin hating Einstein for his stupid theory of relativity and you still have 15 minutes to go.
The physical therapist calls the box an extender and laughs a little when you tell him you hate the damn thing. “Oh, everyone hates the box,” he says. Gin & I call it Satan’s Blue Box and want to smack him when he says we must do it. Every day.
There are coping mechanisms to get through the box. We first tried screaming in rage and pain. But it really makes the dogs upset. Now, we sing along with a video of Lady Gaga. ‘Born This Way’ works well. As do ‘Uptown Funk’ with Bruno Mars, and ‘I Love Rock & Roll’ with Joan Jett, and the entire oeuvre of Queen. We sing with full vigor and it seems to work. For the record, the dogs like ‘Uptown Funk’ the best.
In truth, none of the stretching, bending, stepping, movements we have to make are pleasant. But they’re necessary. And to anyone who will one day have a knee replaced — and trust me, there’s a lot of you out there — do the PT. Get the box and use it religiously. And stock up on Lady Gaga.