It was one year ago today since I had knee replacement. I was scheduled to have my final check-up this week but that appointment was cancelled because of the virus. It took months to get the appointment with Dr. Carpenter, then another 90 days to get on his surgery schedule. If I had been scheduled for surgery this spring instead of last year, it would have been postponed.
So how’s the leg? Well thanks for asking. It’s doing pretty good. No pain unless I try and bend it farther than it’s willing to go. I still wrap a cold gel pack when I go to bed for a half hour but there’s no swelling or hot spots anymore. My other knee is doing just what Doc C thought it would (it doesn’t have much cartilage either, he asked which one I wanted done first? Such a card). He thought after replacement and therapy my left knee might feel better once I started walking normally. You know when some part of you is causing pain, you compensate for it, which throws everything else off kilter. Now that my gait has returned to something close to normal, that’s exactly what happened. I’m still mindful of lefty, can’t twist or pivot but I haven’t had much pain and hope never, ever to need surgery on that one.
I’ve been an avid walker since 1998, although since we moved to Jackson in mid-2015, walking’s been sporadic. I can visualize how I used to walk. Swinging my arms like a in-a-hurry pendulum, thrusting my momentum forward with nice long strides. Looked like a windup toy soldier. Nary a care in the world and didn’t have to watch the terrain. Who am I kidding? I’ve always been mindful of where I was walking. Since the onset of Meniere’s almost 2 decades ago, my balance has been seriously compromised. I’ve fallen several times over the years, breaking the same elbow-twice. A stone the size of an almond under my shoe can put me on the ground. But I wasn’t fearful/cautious like I am now. I know my age has something to do with that. In 1998 I was 47 and there was much less likelihood of me getting seriously injured if I took a spill. Twenty years ago, I could get lost listening to my music while I walked. Not literally, but I’d look up at the surroundings and be surprised how far I’d gone.
Hurt my left knee walking in 2016 which took a year to heal, then fell hurting the right one which eventually led to surgery. After surgery and therapy I finally started walking again last fall when I took another spill landing on my brand new ceramic knee, slowing my recovery and warranting another round of physical therapy. Oh my word.
For Michigan, this was one fantastic winter for those of us who despise snow. (Me-me) Temps weren’t bad and not much of the white crap. Think Hubs used the snowblower 3 times, which in a normal winter could mean 3 times a day, not a season. So I started walking outside again but our streets are just shit. Pot holes larger than where the Titanic rests. These are filled periodically with stinky black pebble stuff by city workers. Those smelly black jellybeans soon find their way everywhere but said pothole. Our large neighborhood has no sidewalks, thus I must walk on the street to get to our relatively new walking/bike path, which is 3 blocks away. But then it’s clear sailing for several miles.
My first goal was a tiny Nazarene church just over a half mile away. The last block before I get there is quite an incline and I was puffing by the time I stopped at their driveway to turn around. On the way is a McDonald’s which has a separate entrance and exit. Walking towards home the first dozen times I noticed the “s l i g h e s t” incline from the entrance surface to the sidewalk. More than once I’d look ahead and think, hope I can make it up this steep slope. I was really in horrible shape.
Next I pushed myself to hit the one mile marker before I turned around. During the next few weeks I added an extra quarter mile-twice, so on good days I was walking about 3 miles total. Not every day though. If the weather was bad I stayed home. On days where I was getting groceries, running errands or standing by the stove to cook for awhile, I’d shorten my walk to 1-1/2 or 2 miles. But on days where I wasn’t doing much besides walking (and eating) I went as far as I could. With the speed of slug.
There’s not much I do on my iPhone or iPad without getting tech advice from my go-to-guru-guy (middle kid Josh who’s now one of the leading statisticians on the Covid stats in the state). There’s about 100 apps on my phone and I use maybe a dozen. Tops. I’m leery, overly cautious, and skeptical. I know deep in my heart every one of those little bastards contain a virus. But being a hip, brave woman of the world, I threw caution to the wind and got an app without Joshua’s 5 minute approval/disbelief speech, his patient sigh, rolling his eyes until only whites are visible or his exasperated “Ma.”
Seeking said guru’s approval I texted him with, “guess what? I just googled ‘stopwatch’ and can you believe it, my phone has one already built in?” (Who knew? He sighed) “But I want to know more than how long I’m walking, I wanna know how many steps I’m taking, so I got a pedometer app by myself!” I’m deaf but definitely think I heard him chewing through his lip to keep from responding on the receiving end of the return text. I plunged further into the rabbit hole with, “once the app was installed I thought they sent me an example of how my daily steps total might look. Upon further inspection it seemed to be the actual record of what I’d really walked for a week because I missed a couple days for bad weather. How could my new app possibly know that already?”
He summed it up with his usual nonchalance, “mom, your phone already does that for you. You’d be surprised how much stuff they keep track of.” (I found that somewhat creepy) “It’s in health and fitness, in your settings.” Am I the only one who doesn’t pay attention to that never ending list in my settings? I manage about 4 of them. So now I’m tracking how many steps I take a day. On days where I stay in it’s pretty hopeless. Our house is small, I don’t carry my phone around with me as I maneuver this large facility. If becoming deaf has taught me anything, one of the most important is keeping my phone in a specific place. When it’s ringing I have no idea where that sound is coming from. For that reason I put it in a very specific place when I go to a room-and leave it there. Then I know exactly where it is.
Thursday was unseasonably cold and windy, but since we had snow showers on Wednesday I hadn’t walk and wasn’t eager to miss another day. Out with the wool long johns, scarf, gloves and winter coat. Again. Started my favorite playlist, grabbed my walking stick and away I went. (I don’t see me walking without my stick in the foreseeable future-but I’m ok using it for balance. Hubs informed me I wore a hole through the rubber tip on the end. This shouldn’t please me but it sure did. He’s already replaced it). Walking west was frigid but eventually I warmed up. Got to my 1-1/2 mile mark (the farthest away from home I’ve walked in several years) but did not turn around. There’s an important point that has some relevance here. You’re feeling good, walking fine, but every single step you take further from your house has to be repeated going back. Only difference is you’re already tired. (I have some issues with this but it’s vitally important to remember). I was looking for my next walking milestone. It turned out to be the vegetable stand where I buy cucumbers and tomatoes called Tyluki’s. And I did turn around and start back home but not without a wistful glance towards Sutton’s Road-my next goal.
Turns out Tyluki’s is just over 2 miles from my house, so my walk was 4.2 miles which includes another hill (dear Lord I didn’t need another one). I did some laundry (up and down the stairs several times) and made sure I took my phone with me, resulting in a little celebration on my pedometer app at the end of the day because I hit 10,000 steps. First time in over a decade. Yay me! My walking time is pathetic. Twenty minute mile but I can’t afford another fall either. However I would like to decrease it by a couple minutes per mile sometime this summer. And I’m determined to decrease some of my steps inside the house. My never ending trips to the kitchen cupboards and fridge have really got to stop…