More of the Same

I missed my one-year anniversary of blogging! This blog was first created out of desperation on April 26, 2016. Let’s see, back then I was freaking out about my company closing, and about needing two knee surgeries instead of one. All perfectly logical reasons to freak out, in my opinion. While I’m more focused on other projects now, I’m glad I started this blog when I did. It’s nice being able to look at my thoughts and progress from the last year. Sometimes I’ve wanted to remember milestones from the first surgery, so it’s handy being able to look back through my blog.

I haven’t been updating because nothing changed in the last month – except for my recovering progress, of course. My walker has been sitting in the corner of my room since last month, I moved to the cane, and now I don’t even need the cane when walking around my house. I’m still wearing the small brace though. My original follow-up appointment with the doctor was May 18th, but she’s going to a medical conference, so now I won’t see her or the hospital’s physical therapist until May 30th. Frankly I don’t mind. At this point I think I just need to do my exercises until I’m fully recovered.

One sort-of interesting change is that I’m using a muscle stimulation wrap that was (hopefully) covered by my insurance. Electrodes literally zap my quad muscle to make it stronger. Plus I control the strength through an app on my phone. I’ve experienced this in physical therapy before, so I guess this is the home version.

Not to jinx myself, but writing has been going really well too. There was a break in freelancing assignments so I got to work on my novel. It’s close to 30,000 words now and I finally have a clear idea of what the ending will be. This might be a little too optimistic but I might even finish this draft by the end of the year.

I haven’t returned to baking yet, unfortunately. I should flip through my cookbooks again and pick something for this week.

Counting My Blessings

While I’ve neglected this blog, I have been a busy little writer bee lately. I hit thirty pages for the new version of my ongoing novel project (I lost track of how many versions there’s been so far). On top of that, a freelance gig assigned me new blog posts that are longer than the ones I previously wrote for them. All good things, but between that and recovering from my knee surgery, I haven’t had much motivation left for this blog.

As usual my recovery has been the standard roller-coaster of emotions. My knee is a lot less stiff than the other one was because the surgeon completed this procedure in half the time. On the other hand, I had much more trouble walking this time around. Before I wasn’t so concerned about walking correctly because I still had one knee left to do. When trying to “be good” over the past month, I could barely out-shamble a zombie and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. Thank God for the hospital’s physical therapist, who I saw for my belated four-week appointment on Saturday. Apparently I should be leading with the surgery knee instead of the recovered knee (wouldn’t you think it was the other way around??). The therapist made sure I had the technique down pat and showed me exercises to make sure my “muscles fired.”

I’m so grateful to be on the right track again. On Saturday night I went to my aunt’s house, my first social outing since the surgery (though I’ve had visitors every week). I’m still struggling a bit but I’ve improved more these last few days than I have the entire month. I’m also glad I didn’t miss dinner at my aunt and uncle’s house because I got to see my cousin and her new husband after their destination wedding last week. Although, watching their wedding video made me wish I could’ve gone to Jamaica! At least I wasn’t the only relative who couldn’t make the trip.

I’ve had a more positive outlook these past few months. Instead of cursing my misfortune of needing two consecutive surgeries, I’ve been grateful to have the opportunity to fix knees that have bothered me my whole life. Still living at home at my age turned into a blessing because I didn’t have to worry about giving up an apartment and moving back home post-surgery. I’m grateful for my two best friends who have visited me every weekend in the last month. I’m even feeling optimistic about my writing again. While I still doubt I’ll make a living selling books, I’m hopeful about eventually publishing my current work-in-progress.

That said, I still dread getting back behind the wheel of my car in a month or so. I just have to remind myself of all those hours I wasted taking public transportation.

It’s Surgery Eve Again

So I was going to make a post about how I made these Pound Cake Cookies from a book and they were yummy, but let’s be real…I’m not thinking about cookies. All week long I’ve been trying very hard NOT to stress about my knee surgery tomorrow (ligament reconstruction).  Purposely not thinking about stuff really doesn’t work. I’m good at distracting myself but crazy, negative thoughts sneak in. My family has been telling me to think positive so let me try that.

The surgery will go fine tomorrow. I had the exact same surgery last year. Then afterwards the recovery will go faster because I’ll be stronger and will know what to do. Then after that I’ll have to drive again and look for a full-time job…

Whoops, one too far.

The surgery will go fine tomorrow. There.

Screw it, I’m watching some cartoons.

Frozen

Don’t worry, I don’t mean the Disney movie, and I’m not about to sing “Let It Go.”

…well, now I am since watching the music video, but that’s entirely irrelevant.

Anyway, by “frozen,” I mean those times we are frozen with fear and unable to take the next step. This has always been very literal for me, especially now that I’m recovering from knee surgery. You’d think I’d be back to normal after three months, but the thing is, much of the time I didn’t walk “normally” pre-surgery. I could walk on my own when I felt steady enough, but when I didn’t, I leaned on my stronger knee (ironically, the one operated on first) or reached for something to hold on to. I’ve been holding myself back the last few weeks because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t gaining any balance. So what if I leaned on my other knee instead of the post-op one? I did that in the past and managed well enough.

I’d gotten frustrated to the point of tears (again) because I couldn’t use my shiny new cane that I ordered from Amazon. It seemed bizarre that I couldn’t use it because I barely needed the walker anymore. If I shouldn’t use the walker, and I couldn’t use the cane, how the hell was I supposed to get around?

So, with that realization, I resigned myself to practicing with the cane and only using the walker if absolutely necessary. Not very encouraging three months after surgery.

Then a few days ago I used the treadmill for the first time in weeks, as part of my plan to walk more in addition to physical therapy exercises. I’d been making excuses because we have a foundation leak in our basement, and our treadmill is in the basement, so how can I possibly use it with all the furniture crowding it? Finally I asked Mom about moving things around so I could practice walking (as in heel-toe with equal weight distribution) on the treadmill. I didn’t think much of it but figured it could only help.

“Help” was an understatement. My mental state improves every day by walking with confidence on the treadmill, even if it’s at a snail’s pace and I lightly hold on to the railings for safety. I understand now that, hey, what do you know, maybe leaning on one knee more than the other does have something to do with balance. I also realize that my post-op knee is capable of supporting more weight than I’d thought, that I won’t fall as soon as I rely on it. Even if I do feel like I might fall, I’m capable of righting myself without frantically grabbing for the nearest sturdy piece of furniture.

I feel much more optimistic now. It wasn’t a miracle of course, as I still have plenty unsure moments and reach for furniture on occasion, even when using the cane. Now I try to thaw when I freeze up, and not allow my fear of falling to get the best of me. These days I’d rather risk falling than hold myself back from moving forward.

 

I am fine. I really don’t have a right to complain, because the surgery couldn’t have gone better. The pain is minimal – like now, I’m fine with a few doses of Tylenol per day. I’ve got my Continuous Passive Motion machine to move my knee up and down. Family members and friends have been checking up on me regularly.

So why am I so freaking cranky? This is not good when my birthday’s in two days. The same people will be calling, texting, visiting, so I’ll smile and say how amazing it is that I feel so good when I had surgery less than week ago.

I think that’s the problem. Except for this big brace on my left leg and some fatigue, I don’t feel like I should be sitting in the house doing nothing all day. My mind is clear enough that cabin fever is making me irritable, especially because it’s summer and I could be doing fun summer things. Well, the whole point of these surgeries is so I can walk without the constant fear of my kneecaps popping out, so it’s not like I would be running along the beach or anything. Still though, I’d like to go places. Hell, I’d like to go to the bathroom without needing help getting there.

…yes, TMI. Deal. You’re not the one who needs to send out an alert every time you have to do Number One. (By the way, I also might be cranky because I haven’t done Number Two since Friday morning. What’s that about?) Another cause could be the sleep issue. I don’t have as much energy, but at the same time, it’s difficult to get comfortable when I want to sleep at night.

Speaking of, my mood also might be in part due to my monthly visitor. Yes, I’m going to talk about that too. The world needs to know that there are surprising upsides to having your period while getting surgery. Firstly, with the pain meds, you don’t feel the cramps when you wake up. It’s a beautiful thing. Even better, you don’t have trouble going to the bathroom (Number One at least) in the hospital. I highly recommend coordinating your schedule if it doesn’t affect the procedure.

So that is what’s on my mind post-surgery. Other than numerous bathroom dilemmas, there’s really nothing to report. Hopefully I’ll calm down the more I get used to my new condition. If not, it’s going to be a very long summer.

Blogging and The Importance of Relatability

Reactions are sometimes unpredictable. Typically, I can write essays about the most random, pointless topics just from the jumble of thoughts in my head, no prompting necessary. Many have been posted on this blog. I ramble about any topic that crosses my mind on an average day.

So you’d think, when something big happens in my life, the first thing I’d want to do is write a blog post about it. Instead, my surgery is tomorrow and I almost didn’t post anything. This is why I never kept a diary. I don’t enjoy rattling off daily events. To me, there’s no point unless I put thought behind it, or tie multiple events together to see how they fit. I’d rather post my insights or my view of how something should be. No matter how exciting events might be to the person living them, people on the outside won’t get it unless they relate to it. Unless this person is a relevant celebrity – then everyone cares about everything, no matter how minor the event.

Anyway, that’s part of my hesitation. The other, much bigger part is how I react to major events. I don’t like to examine them. Once my nerves have settled down to a resting state, I’d rather not stir them up again. I’m glad the clearance went through and I’m good to go for tomorrow, but at the same time, I don’t want to think about surgery tomorrow. All anyone’s been saying is that I’ve been through worse. This is true, but this surgery is tomorrow while “worse” is in the distant past. I can’t help the irrational fears and exaggerated “what ifs” that make me forget why I wanted this surgery in the first place.

At least I go to the hospital in the morning tomorrow, so I’ll have a little less time to freak myself out. I might start posting again as early as next week if I have enough energy for it.

 

Getting Things Done

I am at the mercy of doctors’ offices and insurance companies. “You can’t get clearance earlier than two weeks,” they said. Okay. So I went to my primary doctor last Monday and went to the soonest cardiologist appointment available, which was Thursday. The holiday weekend probably screwed me up but here we are, two days before my surgery is supposed to happen, and my surgeon’s office still doesn’t have clearance from these offices. Not only that, but after contacting my insurance company, I found out the surgeon’s office hasn’t put in for the authorization yet. Oh, and by the way, the Continuous Passive Motion machine my surgeon ordered isn’t covered by my insurance at all.

No, I’m not panicking. Why do you ask?

It’s one thing to feel nervous about the surgery and want to postpone it, knowing I won’t really reschedule. It’s another to worry about actually postponing it because of medical industry crap. Bright side? I’m focusing more on getting clearance in order than the procedure itself.

On the other hand, my novella is on track to be finished…soon, if not by Friday. It will definitely be a novella because I’m at 15.7K words and the story is almost done. I think this is a good format for me. Writing-wise, my biggest problem has always been finishing the story. I can get inspiration from anywhere and churn out the first ten thousand words just fine, but after that I hit a wall. Very rarely do I go past that mark. You’d think after a while I would stick to short stories, but I always get ideas for novels. I didn’t finish the first draft of one until last year when I’ve been writing since middle school. It is easier for me to finish a fanfiction story, but even then, many multi-chapter ones have been abandoned. Maybe it’s because the fanfictions I do finish are really novella length.

With novellas I can write a piece longer than a short story, then move on before I lose interest. My plan right now is to write a series of novellas for this particular world I’ve created. Maybe I’ll try to get it published as an anthology, maybe I’ll make them into separate ebooks…who knows? Right now it’s just nice to reach the end of a story and still want to write about the characters.

Coping Mechanisms

I’m weird, and one of many reasons why is that I like having extra time to process things. Most people say “oh, get it over with sooner!” but I turn things over in my mind, over and over, until it doesn’t seem so scary. Then I like to put it out of my head until the day it happens. I’m talking about the inevitable stuff, such as my upcoming surgery or a doctor’s appointment or…I don’t know, the SAT’s.

(My former coworkers and I were talking about that at breakfast this morning. I’m pretty sure I did nothing for the test and still managed to get into the college I wanted – but that’s just me.)

Up until recently I was relatively fine. I need this surgery. My aunt is a good preview of what will happen if I don’t do it, and I’ll probably be worse off since I have trouble even now. It’s not even that bad because I’ve been through worse, really. Just a little arthroscopic procedure and I’ll be out of the hospital the same day.

Then I make the mistake of thinking about the specifics. What about my other knee, is that going to be secure while they’re doing this? (I’m sure it will be, and if it isn’t, I’ll be out cold.) What if I can’t figure out how to get around? (I will.) It’ll be weird having my knee straight for so long, won’t it? (I’ll adjust.) Going to the bathroom and showering will be a major frustration. (…that one might be true. The downstairs bathroom is tiny.) All these “what ifs” swirl around until I feel too overwhelmed to think about anything. They still annoy me, even though I can give myself a rational answer right after asking myself an irrational question.

Up until recently I could deal because I had time. I could lose myself in day-to-day stuff because the surgery was so far away. Well, now it’s next week. Gotta admit, I’m freaking out a little. You can tell by my use of non-word “gotta” in a sentence.

I’ve resorted to distraction, and fortunately in the era of Netflix, there’s always plenty of that. The anxiety returns on occasion, but I’m usually okay if I’m watching Charmed (my current marathon show). I’m also okay when I’m writing. I’m speeding through my novella lately. I might even try to finish it by next Friday. Normally I believe in facing fears – or in this case, the root of my anxiety. This is not a normal situation though. There’s nothing I can do, and if I get too nervous, I might convince myself to postpone it. I think the best thing to do is write…or watch Charmed, whichever works.