Home for the Summer: July 31One of the things I hope to do a lot of during the long (it better be) Minnesota summer up here is to spend time on the SLTA trail.
By: Jan Kent, Lake County News Chronicle
One of the things I hope to do a lot of during the long (it better be) Minnesota summer up here is to spend time on the SLTA trail. What, you say? It’s the SHTA – H as in hiking. Not for me; not this summer. This year it’s L, as in limping.
During the early months of 2009 I struggled with a left knee that just didn’t want to. It didn’t want to bend, or, once bent, it didn’t want to unbend. It hurt; it ached. (Boy – it’s so much fun to whine in print.) What finally pushed me into action was that I began to hear it, hear my knee. Not a pretty sound. It would catch and hurt and buckle, and when I straightened it out it went “crick.” Couldn’t be happening, I told myself. I’ve imagined that sound. And then it would do it again.
An ortho doc, X-rays and an MRI later I was scheduled for arthroscopic surgery. The doctor told me that if I were 20 and an athlete (I certainly hoped my surgeon wasn’t blind) chances of success were 95 percent or so. For me, it was about 70 percent. I took it.
It was outpatient surgery with a general anesthetic. The most important thing I brought to the hospital that day was a really good book. I waited, and I waited, and I waited. Hospital-grade Gatorade dripped into my arm. I was hungry. The smell of coffee hung in the air. I waited some more.
Finally the doctor appeared in his cool green scrubs. He shook my hand, autographed my left knee to assure they disassembled the correct joint, called me “Sweetie” (Sweetie!?!) and left.
The next thing I knew (there was something in my IV besides Gatorade) I was coming to, my knee was disguised as a volley ball, and various people were peering at me and asking me confusing questions. It was over.
Back home I tried to use crutches for two days without damaging any other body parts, took pain pills that turned me into a parsnip, iced my knee and read some more good books. I’m very grateful that the printing press arrived on the scene before arthroscopic surgery did.
After ten days I returned to see my surgeon who called me “Sweetie,” took a very brief look at my knee and told me to go forth and resume my life. Sure.
On to physical therapy.
It takes a little getting used to, does physical therapy. In one area are about a dozen uncomfortable, long-legged cots with we who would be rehabbed draped over them and on them in a variety of uncomfortable or unflattering (or both) positions. There’s a lot of latitude in the dress code – sweats, business suits, jeans and T-shirts, but baggy was generally the look of the day. The first thing I got to do was to lie on my stomach while my repaired knee hung out in space and I hung on to the sides of the cot so I wouldn’t slide off onto the floor.
In another area, there were endless mats, machines, rubber balls in various huge sizes, things to push, things to pull, weights to lift. I was shown how to use some of this equipment, and while I did my assigned exercises I got to watch the more talented in the room doing impossible things with their shoulders and forearms, and, especially, their knees. The final step at each session was to ice my knee; this way I was home before it defrosted and I again realized how much it hurt.
Three weeks of physical therapy and I graduated. Well, maybe I didn’t really graduate, but, at any rate, I was ready to get back to my life. So here I am. Hope to see you out on the SLTA trail this summer. You’ll be able to recognize my limp – even from a distance.