Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Learning to be Active Again

If you have never, even temporarily, lost the ability to do something physical that almost everyone can do, this anecdote may mean very little. If you have---

Yesterday, I started outpatient physical therapy at a place I had been before. Therapists work their clients hard, and if we are willing to stay an extra half hour or more and work extra, they let us. No extra charge.

The doctor and therapists have all been telling me how fast I am healing after a second knee replacement, and I was eager to get to the stationary bicycle.

The time came. I put my feet on the pedals. To my astonishment, both feet pedaled smoothly. No pain. I could pedal in complete circles with both feet.

And I surprised myself, because I teared up for a few seconds, then finished the 10 minutes with a great, goofy grin. Inside, I was trying to figure it out. No, it probably hasn't been 30 years since I could do this, but it has certainly been more than a decade. Maybe 15-20 years since I could pedal without major pain.

Not that I had a pressing need to bicycle during that time. But something I thought was absolutely lost is found again, and I can do it. Being able to pedal will lead to other things I can do again.

Shortly before this discovery, a theapist showed me a lunge move to build up the calf and thigh muscles. It involves leaning far forward with one knee bent, the other straight. I started to say,"I can't do that because of my knees." Bingo! Light went off! These are new knees. I can do these lunge exercises without harm.

I have flared up a bit for years at anyone who called me handicapped, but I have been. I still will be--other arthritic joints have not gone away. With the healing of my knees, however, I can do so much more. I am going to be able to bicycle and get on a treadmill regularly. The aerobic activity is one of the best medicines for rheumatoid arthritis, osteo arthritis, and indeed, countering the effects of aging.

Gracie and I really will take those long walks. I may go down to the senior center and take up line dancing, if it so pleases me--and I definitely will be working in my garden this spring. All of these things give me joy.

I know this because a bicycle pedal has promised it.

Tomorrow, I will do it again.

Monday, January 16, 2012

No January doldrums in Texas

One of the things wrong with Texas summers besides the heat is the sameness. We wake every day knowing it is going to be hot. In normal years, we have a few days of rain, and not too many days over 100 degrees.

Last summer, we knew every single day was apt to be sunny, uncomfortably hot, and just like the day before and the day after. Boring.

I have to laugh, because this fall when most of the country was having the grass brown, ours was finally greening up. It still is green. We've mowed twice in December--as much as all last summer.

We have had several freezes, hard freezes. Hopefully that will slow down the fire ants. chiggers and fleas next summer. Today at noon it is 71 degrees. Tomorrow afternoon, same time, forecast is for 45 degrees. Then we will have several more days in the 70s. Teens may do a little sun-bathing, or we did back in my day....but that doesn't mean the month can't end with ice and sleet. The Fort Worth Rodeo and Stock Show started Saturday. There's a reason they call the end of January Stock Show Weather. Those same Texas teens that may get out and suntan a bit may wrap wool scarves around their necks to enjoy the carnival rides, sleet permitting.

Many tales are being told of how ranchers and farmers managed last year's drought. Many hopes are being expressed that this year won't be as bad. Already, they are encouraged because the rains came this fall, allowing winter hay to be planted to feed the remaining stock.

None of us around here liked 2011 very much. 2012 already looks better.

Wonder-dog Gracie is getting plenty of outside time today. Last week, following the rain, I kept her treats and an old towel by the back door, because after the rain, she came in muddy clear up to her belly. We negotiated. She agreed not to fight me for one tiny Milkbone treat per towel rub of each leg, and two treats to rub her belly. And then, just as I figured, she headed straight for the cream-colored couch. Not a smear in sight, thank you very much. That was MY end of the negotiation.

Tomorrow, we'll throw her tennis balls a lot inside until she's not the only one getting exercise. She can catch about half the balls on the fly now. Nothing stays the same with Gracie around. Life is never boring, and that leaves me in a permanent good mood.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A New Year, A New Life, A New Knee

Following surgery Dec. 21, I woke up Dec. 22 to find my pins a little more wobbly than I would like. So I spent another week in rehab hospital.

A good friend ( who had privately decided to sleep on my couch a couple of nights) told me, "At last you've regained your senses." So I was back to three therapy sessions a day in rehab, which is a really good thing. It has gone faster this time. At two weeks, I'm spending more than half my time on a cane.I didn't get off the walker the first time until after the third week. Matter of fact, I'll get physical therapy at home for this week and next before going to an outpatient facility. I'll be driving in another week.

The first time, the surgery felt like beginning something new. This time, it feels like a natural continuation of where I want to go physically.As soon as I can pedal using my left knee, I'm off to far healthier aerobics and a more active life.

I'll never be really athletic, but I'm going to put in a garden this spring and start walking with Gracie. I look forward to this with such pleasure.

My granddaughters helped their dad take care of Gracie while I was gone. They played with her, threw balls, and let her snooze in their laps. Oldest granddaughter told me that "just every now and then" Gracie would have a sad face. Then she would brighten and play some more. I tell you, this dog has great attitude.

We finally got everybody together for present exchange this past Wednesday. A number of people have asked me if I minded being in the hospital at Christmas. The answer is no. I was too busy learning how to use my new knee. The granddaughters vacuumed and did laundry when needed. Home a week, I can pretty much do that now.

I got my daughter-in-law a rainbarrel and will go get her another and one for me (they fit in a Camry one at a time.) And some more soaker hoses. I hope the coming year will not be as hot, but it probably will be as dry. More on my hobby horse later. We are going to learn now to grow things with as little water as possible.

I think it will be interesting and fun.