Without a Leg to Stand On

Hospitals, I hate ’em. I was an unwilling victim who held off as long as possible. But, my knees were giving out fast. My doctor had advised me years ago that I needed a knee replacement surgery. But as long as I could walk, why do anything so radical?

Finally, however, about 10 years ago, I got to point where I knew I had no choice. Every step was painful and I had already resorted to using a cane to be sure I didn’t take a tumble. How could I do my work, keep house, travel, shop when I was so limited?

Well, at least it is fixable, I thought. So, I granted my orthopedic surgeon his wish and consented to surgery.

“Which one do you want to have done first?” he asked. He advised me to do one and then in six months to do the other. Two surgeries? I don’t think so.

“I want them both done first,” I replied.

“Both? That’s really hard,” he replied. “You won’t have a leg to stand on.” (Doctors do not make very good jokes.)

Any surgery is hard, I figured. I’d rather do it in one giant swoop of pain and get it over with. Besides, I have things to do, places to go. I can’t be laid up twice.

So, I talked him into it, telling him that I would go to a rehab hospital after the surgery was over.

Somehow, I expected the surgery to caused very little pain and that I would be back to normal in a matter of weeks.

So, on the scheduled morning, I reported to admissions for duty. They sped me into the operating room so fast that they hardly had time to get the IV started. They didn’t really need to worry. I was not going to change my mind at that point.

What followed can only be described as a blur of pain and nurses between naps. They say the mind forgets what it does not want to remember. It must be true. I only remember that I had to stand up the next day on the flaming sticks that used to be my legs.

After three days, the doctor said I was being released to rehab. Released? I could not possibly get in the car and go to another hospital. I guess they were smarter than I thought as paramedics arrived and took me in an ambulance.

So, I spent 10 glorious days in a rehabilitation hospital where they put me through hours of rehab, doing exercises in a gym-like therapy room that I called the torture chamber.

The rest of the time I spent sobbing and begging for pain meds. Finally, the rehab doctor had mercy and upped my meds to control the pain better. I was pretty loopy most of the time after that, but managed to learn to wheel myself up and down the halls of the hospital pretty fast, especially when the nurse was chasing me with a dose of milk of magnesia.

Eventually, I learned to use my flaming legs and was released to go home — home sweet home. I was still laid up for several weeks in bed.

When I went back to my regular GP for a follow up, he was not pleased with all the drugs I was taking and cut me back drastically. So much for my drug-laced dreams.

I have two ugly scars and a mind full of painful memories, but it’s over. I’m now a bionic woman with knees that can set off metal detectors from 50 feet away.

Whatever happened to those visions of flowers, cards and looking cute in pretty nightgowns? It was nothing like that, I’m here to tell you. In fact, the only good thing about it is getting it over and moving on with life.

It’s good to be back in the land of the living.

Copyright 2010 Sheila Moss

About Sheila Moss

My stories are about daily life and the funny things that happen to all of us. My columns have been published in numerous newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and websites.
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7 Responses to Without a Leg to Stand On

  1. Lois Hunter says:

    I am happy to hear that you are back to normal again. I hope I never have to get knee surgery!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. CarlyStarr says:

    Yikes! You are brave having both done at once! Knee surgery is supposed to be one of the most painful.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Storyteller says:

    Friend just had hers done couple of months ago. Her thoughts were the same. She’s getting g around on them now but says it feels weird and robotic. You must be made of true grit!👍👍

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Emie says:

    What a difficult time that must have been for you. Surgical RN here and doctors rarely like to do surgeries on both of anything at once.. cataract surgery being one that comes to mind. The father of one of our friends had his heart valve replaced so when he had knee replacements they decided to do both at once because he would have to stop taking his blood thinners. Long story short, he had a similar recovery as yours. He eventually started back downhill skiing and returned to his “normal” activities. I hope you’ve been good as new since then.

    Liked by 2 people

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