Ozlilly's musings...


Breakfast in bed

I was operated on the left knee and now when I walk it is almost weird to see my reflection in the mirror. The other leg is still unnaturally bent outwards from the foot, as both legs always were.

I walk up and down the corridor. There is a mirror at both ends. There are markings every metre and the corridor must be 50 metres long.

There is an armchair at each end. There are exercise bicycles in the dining room.
It’s Tuesday 21 July, two weeks since my operation and today I was on the exercise bike for fifteen minutes. For the past year I have been training every morning on the home trainer to strengthen my leg and thigh muscles. At home I was up to 16 minutes a day and managed five kilometres at the first resistance level. Today I did 2.2 km with zero resistance.
I had the stitches, which were actually staples, taken out yesterday. Here at the acute geriatric mobilisation they were used to getting patients 10-12 days after their operations. Due to the backlog of operations due to corona, they sent me here from the orthopaedic department after just four days. It was a bit of an adjustment for the physiotherapist to adapt to the different situation. She decided to wait until the stitches are out before starting the bicycle training.
One week after the operation, last Tuesday, I wanted to cream my flakey heels and suddenly my operated knee made a loud crack. I had excruciating pain. The nurse said I should not be moving the legs sideways, but only forwards and backwards and handed me an A4 information sheet.Maybe they told me that before. I don’t know. All my life I have been bowlegged. All my school photos I’m the one sitting with the legs apart. For over 60 years I have become accustomed to moving a particular way. How do I retrain myself to move “correctly”? After checkups with new x-rays of the operated joint I wanted to know how to retrain my neural pathways. How should I be envisioning my legs and joints? Did the surgeon really straighten the twelve degrees of the left leg? Did he really cut away the wedge of bone to straighten the joint? What are the anatomical consequences? After the crack, I had such pain in the lower calf of the left leg in an area which I had never felt before. I also had pain in the thigh above the knee joint. The fresh x-rays told the surgeon that the operated joint was still intact. However, my pain was very real and still excruciating. Seems only the nurses and patients realise that there could be pain coming from the muscles, ligaments, sinews and nerves. The surgeons seem to only see the bones.
The ergo therapist just came to visit. She asked whether I had received the information sheet. I said, yes only after I had hurt my newly operated knee. We discussed the process and she stressed how important it is to allow the new knee joint the time it needs to set and heal before attempting any sideways turning movements.
The first week I had been feeling incremental improvement daily since the operation. The first day I could not even lift my leg. It felt like a ton of bricks or a concrete block. The physiotherapist taught me how to place my other foot below the ankle of the operated leg to help move it to the side of the bed. The first day post op I just put the feet on the floor. She showed me how to get back into bed, again by leveraging my operated leg over the “good” one.
The second day I actually stood and walked with crutches. The third day they removed the catheter and since then I have to get up every couple of hours to empty my bladder.
On Friday (10 July) I was moved here to acute geriatric mobilization. Here we walk to the dining room for meals. The physiotherapist comes Monday to Friday, every week day. My colleague at the mealtimes was walking up and down the corridor four times a day. She was happy to go home last week.
I’m taking my wonder drugs, my food supplements, my vitamins. It really hits home how each one of us is responsible for our own welfare and well-being. I believe that the red-berry supplement in high dosage was too much for my digestive track. The temptation to conceal my secret plans at a miraculous recovery by following the recommendations of my trusted health guru, give way to my undeniable desire for honesty and transparency. Yet I know that the medicos in the official health care system are not sympathetic to this path at all.
I think back to various discussions with my own son, the ambulance driver who originally wanted to study medicine. Even though I believe I have managed to survive this long without the operation solely due to my joint formula supplements, I see myself again in a bridging position, between two worlds. When I first started nursing in Switzerland in 1973, I remember my reluctance to accept pain killers, offered to me by the head nurse in the nursing home. On the other hand I was impressed at the use of peppermint and chamomile teas as sedatives and calming measures without the use of drugs in that same Swiss institution. It was fascinating one year later to be studying nursing at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and to witness the differences in approach, even to the way the beds were made. In Switzerland we added a “foot-fold”, doubling the sheets and tucking them under the mattress, allowing room for the foot to “breathe” without getting squashed under the blankets.
Anyhow, this morning I showed the doctor the berry extract I’ve been taking, which was part of my “wonder-cure” regimen for the fast recovery of the knee. I believe the high dosage recommended by my mentor, were indeed too much for my digestive tract. In fact, I had already stopped them completely and slowly began reintroducing them after nearly a week without.
As I said, you have to decide for yourself what is right and sometimes you have to be prepared to make mistakes in order to learn the real truth. I’ve believed in my products – so is it the faith alone that has helped me – or do they really work?
Worst case would be not to do anything for fear of making a mistake. So it was only natural for me to be open and transparent. I feel like it could be a merit of age. I don’t really care what people think. Of course I want to be loved, appreciated and understood. But even more, I want to be accepted.
Thanks for all the lovely greetings, wishes and prayers. I didn’t know how else to deal with my situation immediately following the operation. So much pain. So much change. No perspectives. I had no idea what to expect. I could not say I am okay. So easy to feel sorry for myself. All your good wishes were a soothing balm to me. Impersonal? Sorry if you thought so. It was all I could handle. Josef and the kids all came in to see, one at a time, one after the other. All with mask. Here in the acute geriatric mobilisation they are not so strict with the visiting times but the mask is compulsory. A couple of days I had no visitors at all and honestly I enjoyed the “free time” to read, to sleep, to reflect. When Nathan asked me the other day what have I been doing I almost felt guilty. I have not finished even one of my three books – four if you count the biography which I have on my kindle. I usually read the biography in the morning as HDH. Except when I’ve had such severe headaches which I have diagnosed as caffeine withdrawal. Then I can’t do anything until after breakfast. About an hour after my third cup of coffee, I can think straight again and then I can also read my HDH.
It’s my second week, into my third now and I finally feel like things are getting better again. My pain killers have been reduced voluntarily. I am permitted four extra morphium type capsules and have only needed two or three the last few days.
You have to make your own choices. You have to live with the consequences of your decisions. Why don’t I reduce my coffee to free myself of the addiction? I’ve lived without coffee before. I really don’t just sit around moping and longing for my next coffee. But honestly, once I moved here I got the headaches in the morning and attributed it to the missing afternoon coffee. A week later “somebody” has organized coffee for the whole ward. The coffee automat was taken away due to non-profitability during corona. I made no secret of my withdrawal symptoms and was actually surprised by the open ears and sensitivity of the medical staff. I think it was the head nurse that introduced the afternoon coffee service. After all, she was also the one who first suggested that I get my own capsules so that the nurses could make me a coffee on their Nespresso machine. Now I have the capsules and the coffee room service!
So whatever your problem, talk about it. Don’t be afraid to do something wrong. Do something rather than nothing. Be grateful. And keep smiling. Thanks for your support.
I finally answered a non-family call. I guess one day everything will be back to normal again. And what is normal?
I’ve put this operation off for so long it’s no wonder I need extra time for recovery. I mean I had no idea about this after-care facility. I am very grateful for the time here. I am on my way. My project for 2020 is my health. So it means I have not even attended the ongoing zoom conferences lately. But yes, I am on FaceBook. And yes, I don’t mind answering there.


About the author 

Lilly Gundacker

Lilly Gundacker is an Australian living in Austria, now in Vienna. With a loving husband and gifted adult children' she excels at Communication, Family, Marriage and is an Organizational expert. As a retired International Civil Servant and dedicated Unificationist she motivates, inspires, engages, and makes a difference!

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