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Healing Touches



By Kathy Hendricks

 

As I write this, my leg is propped on a special pillow to ease the pressure on my knee. I have now joined the ranks of those with replacement parts. A month ago I underwent surgery and have just completed my eighth physical therapy session. It’s a slow process of healing, regaining strength, and learning to walk rather than waddle.

 

To be truthful, I have had nights when I thought this whole thing was a very bad idea. I generally feel more positive in the morning once I start to move around. Journaling helps to maintain perspective as I review what I felt like four weeks ago. It also provides an opportunity to consider the many ways healing takes place. Painkillers and nerve blocks were helpful in the beginning but I am relying more on the emotional and spiritual aspects of the process these days. At night, when I grow anxious over the sleep I am not getting, I plug in some earbuds and listen to Pandora. Playlists with favorite music calms me enough to, if not exactly slumber, at least find respite from self-pity and “let my music take me where my heart wants to go”, in the words of Yusaf Islam (Cat Stevens).

 

All of this has given me a deep sense of awe at how my sister, Corinne, handled her deteriorating body the last several years of her life. Diagnosed with myositis – an inflammatory disease that caused her muscles to steadily weaken - and coupled with arthritis, she gradually lost her ability to walk. In the end, she eschewed various treatment options that only seemed to make things worse and opted instead for life-giving activities. These included regular visits to a nearby pool and a “laugh yoga” class. She could also be seen motoring down the sidewalk in her scooter to a nearby elementary school where she helped Kindergarteners with their reading skills. Her courage and positivity are something I strive for.

 

All in all, I can only be grateful for all of the healing touches I have experienced this past month. From the competent hands of the surgical team, nurses, and physical therapists to the sweet hugs from my little grandchildren. And especially the strong and patient care of my husband, Ron. Then there are those that touch the heart and soul – singers and poets, the warmth of the Colorado sun and beauty of the surrounding mountains. It has formed a pattern of healing that is enabling me to regain not only physical strength, but to shore up my appreciation for each day’s possibility.  


Response by Barbara Anne Radtke

 

As someone who has had a knee replacement, I welcome you to the ranks of those with “replacement parts.”  I relate to several aspects of the experience you share, including the idea that it crossed your mind that it was “a bad idea.” When I expressed my doubts about my decision, the day after my surgery, a nurse with a touch of both humor and tenderness in her every step said: “Honey, you just are having momentary buyer’s remorse. It will pass.” AND, it did. I am so grateful now for having this option available to me.

 

Aging brings such changes to our bodies. Despite our care, despite whether we are having replacements or nursing a strain or sprain, we face the fact that our bodies are not what they once were and that we need to adjust to new limits.  Indeed, “learning our limits” is the topic of my next blog entry. Stay tuned.

 

Thank you so much, Kathy, for sharing your journey so far.  It is good to hear of all the loving care you are receiving and the relief you are finding in listening to music. I found great comfort in the works of Emily Dickinson.  I felt our worlds had a similar scope. For the most part, she confined herself to her home.  My surgery took place in 2015, one of the worst New England winters, and I was confined to building endurance indoors because of so much snow and ice on walkways outside. Dear reader, if you had any strategies for coping with a recovery, please share them.

 

Kathy, please keep us posted as you continue to make healing strides.

 

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