Day 8: Motivation & Philosophy

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February 12, 2005 at 12:39 pm

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12:20 PM: Recovery and rehabilitation definitely bring on the whole spectrum of human emotions.

Today, I’m in fine spirits but am feeling unmotivated and a little peeved, since my left foot has developed a prickly sensation (like when your foot has fallen asleep and it’s just begun to “reawaken”.) Hopefully, it’s just a side effect of how cold it is on the downstairs floor of our house, not to mention all the cryo cuff use on the left knee; otherwise, it means my numbness is attempting to spread from the lateral side of the left leg to my foot, and I really don’t need that. I stubbed my toes enough before having surgery; I certainly don’t need numbness anywhere in my foot to exacerbate that problem!

The pain level has been creeping up late at night, and I’ve been staying up with the pain.

It’s not the blinding pain of the first couple days, thank heavens; rather, it’s a very strong, unrelenting ache that involves the entire leg and results in occasional muscle spasms. I went to sleep at 2 AM this morning, after taking a Vicodin (I’ve now run out until I see my OS on Monday) and 2 Benadryl for the persistent itchiness on my knee.

Thankfully, I’m not experiencing itchiness anywhere else, which is a common side effect of narcotic pain medications.

I didn’t wake up and haul myself out of bed until 10 AM this morning, which is unmotivating itself — nothing quite so disconcerting as waking up feeling like half your day’s already gone by (because it has!) I’ve done a lot of stretching and flexing of the knee and leg today in bed, but I have not yet done my first exercise session.

When I wake up at an appropriate hour, I generally start that first session at 9:30 AM.

Today, I suspect I won’t get around to it until 3 PM or so.

That’s still fine. I should allow myself some flexibility in my schedule, not just my knee!

I got some work-related tasks accomplished today that have been gnawing at me since the beginning of the week. Of course, I still have loads more to do, but some progress is better than none.

I’ve started reading David Allen’s .

I ordered it from Amazon about a week prior to surgery, along with his .

I’ve found that the time management skills I have, while passing for “very good to excellent” in a corporate/worker-bee setting, are insufficient for being the full-time, work-at-home partner of a budding small business. With too many tasks weighing upon me, and no higher authority to force certain tasks into the forefront, my time management machine develops a serious mechanical fault and grinds to an emergency stop. So, we’ll see how Allen’s methods work, once I’ve finished reading his books. They couldn’t come at a better time, since surgery has put me well off pace for some of my first quarter 2005 goals.

My foremost goals right now all revolve around my successful recovery and rehabilitation, of course, but I need help incorporating these into my pre-existing plans, goals and deadlines.

2 PM: I convinced Justin to do some of my exercises with me. We focused on the quadriceps-building exercises, primarily. Before we even reached 10 reps in the first set of 30, he was moaning more than any of us do in the formal PT sessions!

He’s been incredibly supportive, but I think doing some of the exercises with his uninjured, “un-cut” knee made him appreciate the amount of work involved in rehabbing.

I think, too, he can better understand how it could take 2 hours to do all 9 exercises to the desired number of repetitions and sets, especially since some of the exercises are especially painful, requiring inevitable stop-and-steel-oneself-to-more-pain breaks!

I told him he’s welcome to join me anytime, since I’ll be doing these for at least 8 months, probably far longer than that.

He wants to get back into tennis, which he played at the Varsity level in high school, and he’ll need to rebuild those quads and hamstrings for that.

Really, I believe if everyone did even just a few of these exercises daily, we wouldn’t have the kind of rampant obesity in America that we do.

Not that these exercises are sure-fire weight loss exercises, of course. However, incorporating routine exercise — even “just” stretching and resistance exercises — into your daily life can’t help but make you more health-conscious and motivated. Now I can fully appreciate what I read in someone else’s : “If it weren’t for this (knee) injury, I wouldn’t be in the greatest shape of my life!” So much of health and fitness is simply the right mindset: a desire to do something to make your body healthier/better/stronger, and I don’t know a better way to force that mindset than have major surgery and know if you slack off, you’re jeopardizing the success and viability of your “new knee”.

4:30 – 5 PM: I completed all of my exercises, and then some. I kept getting distracted and losing count of what rep I was on, so to be on the safe side, I tend to start over or subtract 10 from the count I think I was on.

Afterwards, I decided to sit outside for awhile even though it’s wet and pretty bland out there right now.

I carefully moved a plastic chair from our deck to the small stone porch directly out our back door.

I sat there for awhile enjoying the cool, fresh air, and then I decided I felt good enough to do some more exercises.

I did a bunch (40+ reps) more leg extension and flexion exercises while seated in the chair, some with my right leg as a brace but most with the left leg working on its own.

I then added in about 50 reps of bent knee raises, also while seated; these had not been that painful or difficult in PT on , and since I hadn’t done those inside, I figured I needed to add them into my routine ASAP. The leg raises got a bit painful as I did more of them, but it felt good to see my knee moving under its own power and functioning as a knee should (eg. bending!) After a half hour or so exercising and relaxing outdoors, I came back inside to get back on the CPM and cryo cuff.

BTW: I’ve had the CPM set on at least 90 degrees ever since I returned home from the hospital last Saturday. After PT or an at-home exercise session has limbered up my knee, I run it on 110 or 120 degrees to ensure I maintain that ROM. They have it locked on 120 degrees, so that is actually the maximum ROM I can set the CPM to use.

I feel very good about my condition and progress this past week, and despite the bouts of pain or diminished spirits, I think I’m going to do very well over the long haul.

This is all a learning experience, and in my thirty-one years on this Earth, I’ve learned that some of the most challenging experiences we endure are also the most significant to our growth as individuals and members of society. For instance, temporary disability and the challenges of physical therapy cause you to think about things and people in ways you might not have. As I was doing my exercises yesterday, sighing occasionally at a brief flash of pain, I stopped and said to Justin, “Of course, this is what so many soldiers coming back from Iraq are going through right now, too.”

And, of course, they didn’t get to choose whether or not it happened, or schedule the date of their surgery, or have all their family with them before they went into the OR to wish them well and reassure them of any fears they might have.

A life event like this changes one’s perspective, and for that I am grateful. It’s a gift that, like my “new knee,” I am not going to take for granted.

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