My Break-through Moment

Most of our days are average and routine, but we do have days that are phenomenal or challenging. All of us will at times come up against a Goliath or a brick wall that we have to over-come or knock down. I recently had one of those moments. What was it?

I finally was able to get on an exercise bike and peddle it all the way around.

I know that’s not impressing you that much. “You should have had that accomplished by age five,” you’re thinking. Peddling a bike is not a big deal unless you had knee surgery a couple months before.

I had a partial robotic knee replacement on April 15, 2021. The first several days after knee surgery, your knee is so swollen you can barely bend it. Even standing up and sitting down is hard because your leg is out in front of you.

Getting in the car to go home from the surgical center was interesting too. My son, Wayne, moved the seat all the way back. I sat in the seat and tried to swing my leg in but the kick plate was in the way. I couldn’t get my foot past that and into the car. I had to skooch back so I was partially on the compartment between the two seats. I was able to get my foot inside, but it scraped against the kick plate which doesn’t feel too good.

I was anxious to get started with therapy so life could return to normal, but you can’t start physical therapy until after your two-week check-up when you get your staples out. I was thinking that once my staples were out and the swelling was down, I would be able to bend my knee pretty good. Nope.

After the swelling goes down, you still can’t bend your knee very far. It feels like a snug, invisible band is wrapped around your knee, preventing it from moving. You get this desire to just break-through that invisible band and have your mobility back. Of course, it doesn’t work that way. It takes time and work.

I did my physical therapy at PPP (Primary Prevention Pysiotherapy) in Flushing, Michigan. The above picture is me with Tonya. She was such a big help to me.

When you first walk in, these are the two ladies, Paula and Alex, that you usually see. They’re very cheerful, friendly and glad to help. This atmosphere gets your spirits up and primes you for a positive experience.

The whole staff at PPP is amazing. P.T.’s (Physical Therapists) are exceptional people. They’re dedicated to helping you get your mobility back so you can do all the things you did before – and sometimes even more things. At times they have to push us a little past the comfort zone, but they’re willing to be the bad guy and practice tough love because they want you to be able to live life to the fullest.

I have great appreciation of them for this. It would be easier for them to let us get away with taking it easy, but that wouldn’t be in our best interest.

So that I’m not overwhelmed, I tend to set small goals, one at a time. When I achieve one, I’ll set another. My first goal was to get my knee to bend 90 degrees so that I could sit in a chair with my feet flat on the floor directly under my knees. I also wanted to go up and down steps the right way – no cheating! That’s one of their many goals for us. They work with us until we can walk up and down those steps the right way. We have to get to where we can do normal, daily activities with no problem.

After I, with much help, achieved that; I moved on to my next goal. Riding that exercise bike!

When you first get on it, you can’t get your leg to go all the way around. You have the foot of your surgical leg straight down on the peddle with a little bend in the knee. They have you peddle forward and up as far as you can and then hold it for a second. Next, you peddle backwards and hold. You keep going back and forth, just like a pendulum. You’re supposed to go to the point where it’s a little uncomfortable, because that’s the goal; to get it to bend more, a little at a time.

Tonya was working with me and she said, with great joy and enthusiasm, “One day you’re going to be doing this and your leg will go all the way over and it will surprise you.”

Wow. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I wanted that! I wanted to be able to peddle all the way around and have full rotation of my leg. Once in a while Tonya would say, “Oh! You’re so close!” That was encouragement. It became the brass ring for me to reach and grab; however, I wasn’t so foolish as to believe that it wouldn’t hurt. I asked Tonya, “Is it going to hurt when my leg goes over?”

“Yes,” she said, and she said no more.

Hmmm. They try to focus on the achievements, not if it will hurt, but they won’t lie to you. You have to appreciate that. Knowing it might be uncomfortable (they frown on using the word “painful”) didn’t discourage me. I still wanted to experience that moment. I imagined that it would be the moment I broke that invisible band and there might even be some snap, crackle and popping in my knee as those shackles fell away. Luckily, it wasn’t like that. (No snapping, crackling and popping.)

I finally had my moment and even though it didn’t exactly tickle, it was a great moment. I was making progress. Achievement is a very satisfying emotion. I felt like doing the Rocky dance at the top of some stairs!

I had come far but I still had further to go.

This is Brittney. She is such a wonderful, upbeat person. In this picture, you can see her joyful spirit. There were a few days I worked with her and the one time I came in, she said, “You get to have a massage today!”

A massage? How wonderful! I imagined this was my reward for all my hard work up to this point. It was going to be so relaxing and soothing!

Wrong!

Yes, they do massage the tissue around your knee to loosen it up and stretch it, but they do that because they’re going to see how far they can get it to bend and trust me – they do get it to bend!

It’s a tad painful. (Oops. Did I say that?) It’s “uncomfortable,” but I’ll tell you what – it does the trick. My leg felt so wonderful and lose after that; it was amazing! All day, I could feel how much more movement I had in everything I was doing.

The thing that is frustrating is that it doesn’t matter how lose you get your knee through the day; when you sleep at night and aren’t bending it, it stiffens up again. It’s like going two steps up a sand dune and sliding back down one. You just have to remember that you are moving ahead. Keep at it and don’t quit!  

Fear of my knee freezing up was great motivation to remain faithful in doing my home exercises and completing all my therapy sessions. I have some more to go to for this knee and I’m having the next knee done in September. Can’t wait. Okay, I’m not looking forward to going through all this again but I do want to get it done so both knees are functioning the way they should. Both knees were bone on bone and after working nine hours on the line, it was difficult to walk to my car and go home. Every step was so painful that I wanted to cry and even thought of quitting my job. That’s why I appreciate everything my surgeon and PPP has done for me.

This is some of the gang at PPP.

There are three reasons I wanted to write this.

1). I wanted to thank everyone at PPP for all they have done and are continuing to do. You’re making a difference in the lives of many people.

https://www.primarypreventionpt.com/

2). I wanted to thank the whole staff at Weir Orthopaedics (Love that name!) Dr. James Weir and Dr. Jared Weir are the surgeons. Dr. Jared did my first knee. I’m not sure who’s doing the second one. My brother went to them and recommended them highly. I know two other people, besides my brother,  who had knee surgeries from them and they all had great results, so that’s where I went. They’re in Saginaw Michigan. The things they can do are simple amazing.

https://www.weirorthopaedics.com/

3). I got thinking about the things people go through in their lives. Knee surgeries are extremely common, so I’m not alone in this experience. Also, what I’m experiencing is nothing compared to the trials that other people have gone through or are going through right now. If you’re going up against a Goliath of your own right now, I just want to encourage you to stay strong, don’t give up and try to keep your spirit positive – if you can. Most of all, remember to pray. You will have your moment when you break down the barriers in your way and you make it to the other side and that is my prayer right now; that you have your own break-through moment. I’m not saying it won’t hurt. I’m not saying it will be easy; but you can do it. And it will be worth it!

Isaiah 40:31  But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. 

4 Thoughts

  1. You have come so far Mary!!!! Whats good about having the second knee done is you know what the therapy will be like already and thats half the battle. Stay strong in the Lord and He will direct your path—- With new knees. Blessings Always.
    Julia

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  2. Mary, this is a wonderful post. Full of positive vibes and gratitude. It is very encouraging to anyone with a “Goliath.” Which is anybody who is alive. The other “message” I see between the lines is how the staff’s positive encouragement uplifted you. Even to the point where you knew it might hurt, but you still wanted to achieve. Our attitudes are catching! Good luck with your recovery! After reading this, I know you will do great!

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