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Walking Requires Two Legs

Friday, December 17, 2010

I have an invalid at home right now.  She had knee surgery two days ago.  She expects to be up and about and be able to do normal things (like go to church, have lunch with friends) by Sunday.  Indeed she began walking around the house without crutches today.  It’s fairly ungainly, but it is progress.

Heather’s left knee has malfunctioned since she was a very young woman.  She had had surgery on that knee before I even met her in 1973 – surgery which from the moment that I saw it, I considered to have been botched – and ever afterward she has favoured that leg.  It hurt... a lot.  There was further surgery on it in the early 1990s, which did not result in much improvement.  In consequence, she has overworked the right leg, so that now it, too, has given up the ghost.  In recent months she has hardly been able to walk at all.  There was a period last May when she had to go about in a wheelchair, even being wheeled into church very grandly as Diocesan Chancellor – in her lawyers' robes – for the consecration of a bishop!

So the doctor has now repaired the “good” knee, so that Heather can have ONE working leg through this winter.  She will get a full knee replacement on the “bad” knee sometime in 2011.

The surgery was planned for 1:00 PM Wednesday, and I was told that I would likely take her home that same day at 5:00 PM.  This did not turn out to be the case.  Even at 9:00 PM, when I eventually left her side, she was still heavily influenced by the general anesthetic.  The staff had insisted on watching her overnight, so I finally brought her home at 7:00 AM yesterday morning.  She slept at home for several hours, then had some lunch, and by 4:30 PM had come out from the bedroom on her own steam (on her crutches – items that we have retained from all those other surgeries) and by the end of the day was sitting beside me in the living room catching up on her work emails.

The surgery was planned for mid-December, because Heather believed – believes – that it will improve her mobility even next week when we go for Christmas to our son’s home in Vernon BC.  This, despite it being so soon after the surgery that her surgical bandages will not be removed until the second day we’re there!  As she put it repeatedly, “I need my one good leg!”  She also wants her one good leg for the Caribbean cruise that we will be taking January 14 – Feb 2!  She really was suffering dreadfully once her “good” leg became almost as bad as her bad one.  Now she anticipates being more mobile on our Christmas trip than she was in the days leading up to the surgery.

Two days after the operation, it looks like she may be right.  With the help of some Tylenol3 she has dispensed with those crutches and lumps about with an air of fierce determination.  What a trooper!

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