Monday, June 3, 2013

You Mean I Can't Just Lie Around And Listen to Bluegrass All Afternoon?

Friday was the final day of physical therapy for the knee replacement, and I am still struggling to settle into a regular routine. It was an inspiring final session. I hope my PT meant it when he described me as near the top of the charts in achieving strength and flexibility in my newly installed bionic knee. He said many guys my age had to go back to their orthopedists and have a "manipulation" to achieve adequate flexion. Lord knows, I worked hard to do what was asked of me so that I could exceed all the goals.

Now begins the really important part. He taught me a series of advanced exercises, 10 of them, to stretch and strengthen every which way. He said I should do them every day for the next six months -- but with a caveat. On days I am particularly active, I can leave the exercises in a dresser drawer and just ice the knee, as I am to do after every round of exercise to keep swelling down. I've taken that alternative one day already -- after taking Dear Wife on an all-out shopping/errands excursion. My knee actually started hurting after all that mall walking, but thank goodness the ice pack eased that flare-up. I probably walked a little more than advisable that day, given that it takes about a year to be all the way back, I'm told.

This morning, I walked the hard hospital floors visiting heart patients as a Mended Hearts volunteer. I hate elevators so I walk up two or three flights of stairs to get to some of the patients' rooms. It was a joy to be able to go up the stairs the normal way, without having to drag one leg after the other as I'd been doing the past few years. It also was a kick to walk down some of the very corridors where hospital PTs had managed to get me to shuffle just a few steps with a klutzy walker in the days following the April surgery. Didn't see any of them today, but know what? I'm going to have to look them up next time and go walking up to them twirling my cane like a baton. I think PTs like to see examples of their work producing results.

My out-patient PT and I discussed some elements of staying active beyond the exercises.

* An exercise bike: It's fine to do, and I have access to one at the community workout room a few blocks away.

* Water workouts: It's as good as it gets, and walking in the pool is actually better than swimming. Again, I am blessed to have the community pool. Ideally, I would get there in the morning before it fills up with kiddies and beach balls and squirt-guns.

* A "Walking Program," as he called it. Fortunately, I have one -- her name is Superdawg. We mutually decided that a hot, humid South Carolina morning is not the optimum time for either of us old dogs. So we are walking after dinner when there is still some light, but less heat. And SD has reprogrammed her walk-begging alert from morning to dusk, all on her own. Have I told you she is an exceptionally smart canine?

After the hospital walking and the dawgwalking, it would be tempting to bag the exercises today. But I'm going to do them anyway. Don't want to get in a bad habit of ducking the prescribed exertion for any flimsy excuse.

As far as listening to bluegrass music, there's no reason I can't put that on and do the exercise and the icing while soaking up all that Appalachian inspiration. I'm dialing up iTunes right now. Ain't life great?

© Robert G. Holland

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