Looking back a year after my total knee replacement, what have I learned? I realise I’m fortunate. I didn’t have a terminal illness or a long term condition but end stage arthritis in one knee that could be fixed. Before the operation my world had narrowed and now it has widened out again and I am so thankful. I had lost my ability not only to walk straightforwardly out of the door but also part of my identity; my sense of independence and freedom and adventure.
-Before I limped badly but now I don’t limp any more.
-My left leg was permanently bent but now it’s straight.
-I was on a high dosage of painkillers but now I don’t take any, and I am not in pain.
-I was active but I didn’t realise at the time how much of a struggle that was. Everything was an effort. Life is now far less exhausting and I am not tired all the time.
There are ups and downs in any rehabilitation. It was hard last Autumn when I just couldn’t bend my knee enough but I persevered and achieved the improvement I wanted. Having shingles was a horrible start to the New Year and I lost some of the fitness I’d gained and some opportunities. But I was so lucky with the support I had that I recovered after the setback.
It was so important to stay in my lane and not compare myself with others and to go at my own pace while recovering. I’m not Andy Murray, an Olympic athlete competing at Wimbledon after a hip resurfacing. But I am below the average age to have a total knee replacement and I want to be as active as possible, to be able to contribute to the world and to participate fully in all opportunities.
I lead a privileged life. I’m white, middle class, and educated and I’m not affected by the systemic discrimination and health inequalities that affect so many people in today’s world. Some difficult things have happened this year that are not for public consumption on a blog. It hasn’t all been pretty walks in the country and lovely food. What I would say is to seize the day, to appreciate life and to experience joy in the every day, a sunset, a flower, the tide turning on a river. And to be grateful
And always to laugh. This was my husband when I asked him to bend down on the footpath across a field so I could take a photo of the barley and the sky. I’ve worked out that I’ve spent half my life following him up or down some path or other and now I will be able to do so for many years more.