Weighty Matters

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All Clear!

on June 22, 2017

A couple of days ago, I met with my orthopedic surgeon for my three month followup appointment. Technically, we were three months plus a week or so, but no big deal. 🙂

I walked in feeling confident and, admittedly, eager to see what the expert would have to say about my progress and recovery. In a nutshell – he was very pleased! He examined my knee, checked the extension, and we talked about the marks I reached in physical therapy.

At my last couple of P.T. appointments, I’d managed 120 degrees of flexion (bending) with my knee on my own. The doctor said that his minimum goal is 110 degrees and that the average at this point is 117 degrees. So, I surpassed the average. (I hope he wasn’t making that up.) He also said that as I continue to exercise and heal, I may achieve an additional five to ten degrees.

I told him that I’d made it as far as two degrees for extension, not quite zero degrees. I asked me to straighten my leg for him. Then he said what my therapist said, and what I’ve realized. Two degrees won’t make much difference at all and, even that may improve.

We then discussed the difference in strength between the leg with the replaced knee and the other one. He reminded me that my right knee had been compromised and weaker for several years so I needed to be patient and accept that it was going to take time and work to bet it even with my left leg. We both agreed that I’d done myself a lot of good getting as fit as possible before the surgery and that this had no doubt helped me with my recovery.

I then asked the big question on my mind. Could I return to all normal, desired activity including rowing classes and riding my bike on the street? The surgeon looked at me and said he wanted me to forget any restrictions, go out and do whatever I wanted. He was so pleased and happy with my recovery level that he decided he didn’t need to see me again for another follow up until the year anniversary of my surgery!

Then he did something kind of cute. He called up the x-ray that they took of my leg in the operating room after he installed my prosthetic knee. It’s like he was so happy with how good it looked and fit that he wanted to show it off. We spent a moment in mutual admiration before he gave me a hug and said he’d see me in nine months.

I strode out of the office feeling pretty darned good about the whole experience. Considering that as late as last October, I was still resistant to the whole idea of knee replacement and desperately hoping for another alternative, I’ve clearly come a long way – emotionally as well as physically.

So what now? I continue to do exercises at home that were recommended by my physical therapists. I also do foundation exercises from Tai Chi every day. I think the danyus, which look similar to squats, but are actually different, are great for building strength in my legs. Toryus, which I’ve now tried three times to write a description about and failed, are not only good for building strength as a weight bearing exercise, but I can really feel the stretch i my legs. So I figure they might also assist with the straightening and extension.

All of Tai Chi is good for the entire body and I’m rededicated to my practice. I can already feel improved stability because of the replaced knee and I’m gradually regaining and improving my balance on one leg or the other, standing up tall on one leg, and other movements. I had a realization when I started doing Tai Chi standing again. Previously, while learning and practicing the moves, I was always compensating in some way for the bad knee. To some extent, I need to relearn it with my new knee. No doubt I will eventually be better at than I was before. I just need to go through the process. Not only am I willing to do so, but I realize that I will enjoy it. I think it makes me a better student and practitioner to be aware of the change and the new level of ability that I didn’t have before.

Tonight I also booked myself into an early rowing class for tomorrow morning. It will be my first day back. I’m excited and looking forward to seeing crew mates from the months and months that we worked out together. At the same time, I am fully aware that I have not done a lot of cardio exercise in almost four months. I have to remember to pace myself in the morning and work my way back up to the fitness level that I had achieved before my surgery. After that, I can look forward to surpassing that level!

Now that I’m all clear, it’s going to be really fun to discover what life, activity and exercise are like without a bad knee. I’m ready for this journey into a newer, fitter future.

4 responses to “All Clear!

  1. Kate George says:

    Mary-Stella, I’ve been thinking about you and worrying about how Irma might have affected you. If you have a moment and the inclination, could you drop me a line? I just want to know that you are doing okay.

  2. JulieR says:

    Mary, just thinking of you and hoping you are safe during Irma.

  3. Liked following your thought process on Tai Chi work.

  4. Kim M/Ginger Betty says:

    This is such wonderful, wonderful news! Big cheers and a high five to boot!

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