Three steps forward, 2 steps… SPLAT!

Kneepain
The stylish but practical ice pack

Go tell my knee,
My achy-breaky-knee,
I really don’t like landing on the floor.
So if you tell my knee,
My achy-breaky-knee,
It might straighten up and walk some more…

(apologies to Billy Ray Cyrus) 

This has been a frustrating week. Frustrating in that aggressive rehab is “on hold” for several more weeks. Yes, the meniscus still has a tear. (No magical healing happening!) The effusion is back. The stiffness is back. The pain (thank the LORD for cortisone shots) is nonexistent, unless I try and do something stupid, like squat or kneel.

But the swelling isn’t “normal.” Not even an older knee that “hit the pavement.” I’m following a new regimen, and using what the orthopedist called “good old common sense.” Conservative, careful, and step by step. Home exercises, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Also regular anti-inflammatory meds, and a delicious mug of Turmeric-Ginger tea!

I’m not particularly happy with my knee at the moment, but trying not to let it color my world. There’s lots worse going on to other people in my life. I’ll be thankful for the healing process, however slow it seems, and for a doctor that listened  to me. I’m hopeful we can push the bionic knee option way way way down the road.

For my own frustration level, well… I’m human. I’m learning what to crank about and what to let flow on and away. And that’s a slow, up and down process, too.

A note to all of you health care folks out there… if you want “buy in” by your patient to a new health care routine, you have to communicate! It’s something that we do in hospice all the time, and we find it makes all the difference. Teaching and re-teaching. Taking the time to answer questions and teach new skills. It’s hard to find the time because of the way that physicians are reimbursed by our current healthcare model (and I know that). But for this doctor, today… I am very thankful.

 

Reflections on Rehab

bannister
Photo Credit: Kate Ter Haar, via Wylio

I blogged recently about my feat of great UNcoordination, and tearing my medial meniscus. How I learned to stop trying to “walk it off” and actually get medical attention.

I know. Radical.

Well, the lesson has been a slow (and yes, painful) process of learning to listen.

Listen to my body.
Listen to my pain threshold.
Listen to the instructions on when to take my medications.
Listen to the Spirit as I make decisions about when and where I will spend my energy and my time.

I’ve had to keep my sense of humor. Me and my #achybreakyknee are making progress as I follow through on my home exercises. (And a HUGE shout out to Sport and Spine Rehab of Rockville for caring about my rehab and treatment as much as their care of pro athletes and fitness buffs!)

But there’s something else I’ve realized in a personal way, a reality that anyone with a chronic health condition already knows. (And I’ve been slow on the uptake!) It’s simply this: Being healthy is a lot cheaper than being sick. Doctor’s appointments, co-pays, medical equipment, prescriptions, procedures… it all adds up!

I am grateful for good health insurance that covers a lot of the cost of my care. But it is expensive. It eats into the little bits of extra cash that we might spend on “fun” things. An office visit co-pay is the cost of going out for dinner (a cheap dinner, mind you.) The cost of a prescription would fill my car with gasoline. And so it goes.

People with chronic illnesses have to count the cost, in every way: in time, money, physical activity and emotional energy. We lose patience with people who offer platitudes. (Seriously. “I’m praying for you” means nothing unless your prayers are sincere and tuned in to my current state.) It bears repeating that chronic illnesses are not  usually the fault of the person who has them. Genes, environmental factors, access to care, and sometimes, dumb luck may mean that one person has a chronic condition, and one person does not. A simple tumble on my patio resulted in my injury. Imagine what I might be going through if the incident had been a car accident or on-the-job injury!

In the midst of all of my personal challenges, which are minimal compared to the issues that many of my patients and their families face, I know God is present. I know the love of the Divine. I know the gifts of humor, of self-care, of compassionate Presence, of close friends and advisors who ‘get me’. I feel God’s mercy every day.

And I also know that there are many who struggle alone. And if I were Empress of the Universe, I’d fix that.

For now, I’ll settle for electing officials who want every citizen to receive high quality and affordable health care. That means I’m a caring person who would not wish others to suffer when there are treatments, physicians, therapists, prescriptions, and rehab options available to them — if only they had access through affordable and comprehensive health insurance.

I’ll keep advocating for all of us. Because — you are beloved. And so am I. And we are worth it.