Countdown

Nothing drives home the fact that you are single and living alone quite like major surgery. Suddenly being an Independent Woman seems like a burden when you have to plan for such things that were previously commonplace like laundry, cat care and getting the driveway shoveled. Married women never have to fret about things like that, since it’s buried in the marriage contract fine print that hubby will pick up prescriptions and clean the litter box; there is no “given” with being a single girl. In preparation for the big day I have been trying to think about every eventuality so as not to burden my daughter and friends too much and I have been trying to stock up on staples such as coffee and toilet paper. I’m incredibly grateful to have a big family and some amazing friends and colleagues but those questions they ask during Pre-Admission testing are haunting. “Do you live alone?”. “Have you arranged for someone to look after you when you get home?” The person asking the question looks mildly alarmed when they find out the only person in residence is a cat named Violet, as if I will require some sort of Social Service intervention. What do they know that I don’t? It’s times like this that I am entirely too sensitive for my own good.  Fortunately my best friend Mike is on board to help out as much as possible and Violet thinks he is absolutely wonderful, so my concerns about the kitty are resolved. He will cheerily clean a litterbox, grab a prescription and shovel a driveway so I am in very good hands when it comes to having extra help. My daughter is at the ready as well and I am hoping she will come and cook me something amazing and help me forget how crappy I feel.

One of the things that scares me is the amount of pain inherent in knee replacement surgery and the job of managing that pain. The people I have spoken with who have been through the procedure pull no punches about the magnitude of the discomfort; knees are complex structures with millions of nerve endings and they are bound to complain when so mightily disturbed. The fact that physical therapy begins on the day of surgery is both a blessing and a curse; movement of course is the cure for all that ails mankind but the thought of doing it hours from surgery boggles the mind. Do it I must, though and I am trying to mentally prepare myself for it. A gym buddy who happens to be a physical therapist has had the procedure recently and told me not to be a hero; she advised me to take as much medication as I could tolerate in order to complete the arduous task of rehabilitation and to do everything I was told.

To that end I have been trying to physically prepare for it. Knee replacement surgery is most successful with strong quadriceps and surrounding musculature so I have been doing quad strengthening exercises several times a day.  My colleagues are used to me doing wall sits and leg lifts at my desk, and in a show of solidarity have even joined in. Everyone is tired of seeing me limp around the office and can’t wait to see me get better so I feel like I have something of a cheering squad. I feel incredibly lucky to have a job where I have four to six weeks of sick time accrued and can worry about getting better instead of drawing a paycheck. And having medical insurance in this era of healthcare uncertainty has been an amazing stress reducer; no one should have to worry about losing their home because of necessary surgery. At the end of the day I am really lucky in spite of the fact that I fall into that weird spectrum of people who don’t have a significant other. And I’m grateful.

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