Torres column: Post-op recovery helps me appreciate what I have
In 2008 I injured my knee, damaging the medial collateral ligament (MCL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Since then I have had three surgeries, and two were not very successful. The first doctor had no experience with this type of surgery. However, he did what he could to fix my knee. The first time he replaced my ACL, leaving the other two ligaments untouched. Nine months later, he did what he could to reattach the MCL. My knee was 70 percent, I would say. My right side will always compensate to keep my left side safe.
After eight years living with discomfort, I finally went snowboarding, and those ligaments gave out, leaving my knee almost as bad as when I injured it in the first place.
Three weeks ago as I write this I had the three ligaments completely replaced with two of my own body parts and the third from a cadaver. Of course, this is a more intense surgery than the previous two.
This knee surgery was the most difficult for many reasons.
First, the pain: The process to gain just a couple of degrees of flexion was the most painful event I have ever experienced. With this comes the frustration of not seeing progress quickly enough. It is like paying extra with pain to get just a one-degree improvement in motion.
Second, the time: It takes more than six months to recover from this surgery. Therefore, I need to limit my fitness routine to just the therapies, even though I feel like I can do more.
Third, pausing many of my goals: With the limitations I need to put many of my dreams on hold.
This setback gave me perspective on other people’s lives. I rode a wheelchair for a while; I have been using crutches for more than two weeks. In the beginning, it was very difficult to go to the restroom and to shower. I needed help to do these things. Someone else had to bring food to my chair, bed or the floor where I was sitting. I was dependent on someone else to drive me around.
After two weeks, I have become more independent. I can go to the restroom alone, I can shower alone, I can drive myself once in awhile, I can get my food, and I can dress myself.
I admire people who use wheelchairs. These devices are not easy to use. A lot of strength is needed. It is difficult to see myself in one of them long-term.
Also this event makes me think about people who are not independent and need the services of others for everyday activities such as showering, dressing, transportation, food preparation, etc.
I am so happy I have the opportunity to recuperate and get back to normal. This setback will last only a couple of months, and then I can get back to being myself.
It gives me the courage to continue moving forward and become more independent than ever. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that I have the control to keep my body in shape until the last day of my life.
In addition, it makes me appreciate all the little things that I take for granted, like getting up and dressing myself, showering and using the restroom. These simple things became a big deal when I couldn’t do them myself. I have been coming to Custom Body Fitness to assess some of our members, and it makes me happy to see them exercise and use their bodies. I wish I could do the same, but I am not ready yet.
I have heard a lot of stories from our members about injuries, such as knee surgeries, hip replacements, car accidents and others. I don’t know if you’ve had an injury that put you in bed dependent on others. If you haven’t, I hope it never happens to you.
Nevertheless, today when you wake up, pay attention to all the physical actions you are able to do thanks to your healthy body. Take care of your body by strengthening it and feeding it the right food. Exercising will help you be independent and enjoy life more without worrying about your future and who will take care of you.
Many times a tragedy happens, so we can learn how to appreciate what we have.
Sandro Torres is owner of Custom Body Fitness in Carbondale, author of the book “Lose Weight Permanently” and a Watch Fit columnist. His column appears on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month in Body & More.
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