I wrote my last post, “It’s The Not Knowing,” just before my first in-home physical therapy appointment. I was a LOT nervous about what kind of pain it would entail. I took a pain killer and hoped for the best.
And the best is what I got, despite the pain. In fact, it was because of the pain that two days later I’m moving more fluidly than I have in two weeks, and it’s through pain that I continue to improve.
Here’s what happened Wednesday. While I had progressed to a 55-degree bend in my knee through the use of the continuous passive motion machine, my physical therapist forced my knee to bend to 65 degrees. For about 60 seconds I thought I was going to die or at the very least pass out, but that bend said to my knee, “Enough! No more babying you!”
The progression I’ve made in just 48 hours is amazing. Not only am I off the narcotic, but I’ve gone from sweating through four assisted leg lifts to doing 20 all by myself. On Wednesday, my PT assessed my walking and said I was not bending it enough or putting enough weight on it. Today, I washed AND dried AND put away dishes, all the while keeping equal weight on both legs.
Wednesday I was riding in the back seat of my car. Today, I was in the passenger’s seat. Next week, I’m gonna be at the helm, baby!
My PT said to not be afraid, to let my knee do what it was designed to do. ‘Wow,’ I thought. ‘That’s good advice for most everything in life.’
If we’re willing to go through pain rather than around it, the problem is solved much faster and with more permanency. This has been true in my life for grief (after dancing around that bad boy for nearly 20 years), relationships, and weight loss, and yet it’s a lesson I’m always learning. It’s hard to give up, give in, go through, face, or shake hands with pain and follow its uncertain and circuitous path, but think about it. When was the last time you accomplished anything significant without taking that first step into the uncomfortable?
It’s counterintuitive to inflict pain on ourselves, but sometimes it is through pain that we find relief or attain our goals. Because of the painful exercises, I can make tea by myself. Because I force my knee to bend further than it wants to, I can take a shower alone (or at least now I have the choice…wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Without pain, I’d be further from normal, more dependent, and more frightened of the unknown. This doesn’t mean I’m without fear or doubts or worry. I don’t look forward to these painful experiences. But living in the light of their redemption is worth every wince, outcry and tear. Every single one.
I’m going to get better, dammit, and I’m going to do it the same way I lost weight, faced grief, and dumped a painful relationship (or three): by not taking shortcuts and accepting the status quo. I’d do well to do this in all aspects of my life, but for now, I’ll just work on the knee.