The Doubts Start to Kick In

It’s been just over two weeks since my knee surgery and the doubts are beginning to kick in. I’m sure other people have similar thoughts. Those times when you ask yourself — “Did I do the right thing?” and the people around begin to think about all the extra stuff they are doing, because you aren’t doing it. All that kind of stuff.

Both legs at full extension

It took over seven months to have my knee surgery and it’s going to take at least another two to three months to recover as much as I probably will from the surgery. I know that I will be able to do more and more during that time, but when the docs go in and muck around inside our bodies, the body needs time to recover from that intrusion.

Luckily, I have a great support system at home and at the VA. Even so, after more than eight months since my knee injury, the fatigue factor of not being able to do the things I did before the injury or surgery has set in. It also has for others in my life who have had to listen to me whine about discomfort, pain, or things I can’t do – yet. 

Everyone including yourself is tired of you being unable to be you.

However, this morning I walked Bennie and fed the outside critters. Then I walked a piece of mail over to the neighbor’s house that the postal service left in our mailbox. After a nice breakfast, we drove in to get our Walmart curbside grocery order and I brought the bags into the house, with just a little side commotion from others about me needing to go walk the dog again instead. So, I walked Bennie again and then came inside to do a workout.

What’s so important about the stuff I did in the above paragraph?

It was a normal Thursday morning.

I was able to do the stuff that I normally do. 

Although I know that I still have a ways to go before I will be doing all the things that I used to do. You know that running obsession that I seem to have. However, today was noticeable progress and others in the house saw that I was doing what I could, despite it being just over two weeks since I had surgery.

If others see us working our arses off to do whatever the injury allows us to do. They are more likely to be supportive when we do need their help and we will need it. It’s when we give up and plant our arses in the chair or couch, demanding to be waited on, and stop making the effort that things get bad in a hurry for both ourselves and the people around us. It is also when they tend to get pissed, disappointed, and overwhelmed that we have given up.

I am making the conscious decision to not go that route.

During rehab from surgery, there are going to be days that really, really suck and will cause me to question how much progress I am making. We all will have those bad days, but we all need to work through them the best we can and get back to what we need to do to keep moving forward.

What can we do?

Relax a little, and trust the process – you are probably healing. Monitor how we feel, is the pain what we expected? Does the injury look like it should for where we are in our rehab? Ask questions if you aren’t sure, and be proactive, it is your body. YOU need to make sure that things are going the way that they should with your body. You ain’t getting a new one.

Focus more on doing the things you can do and less on the things you can’t. You will be surprised at what you can do. However, acknowledge that you still can’t do all the things you used to do – but instead of saying “I can’t.” either add in the word “YET” or say “I will be able to do it (whatever it is)soon.” If what you used to do is now impossible, what can you do and focus on that?

Stay positive, it is when you start to spiral down into negativity that the fears take over. Yeah, things get screwed up when you go down that road.

Write down your thoughts, and talk to the others in your life. Explain what you are doing and feeling, as much as you can. Tell them you aren’t looking for their sympathy, but you still need their help and support to get through to the other side. When necessary pull in friends, experts, or whoever you think can help you overcome the doubts or issues that arise during your recovery. 

Get the crappy stuff out of your head, where you or others can see how you are actually feeling and doing.

The reality is that

Being injured sucks and having surgery ain’t all that wonderful.

However, once you are injured, there is a process that you gotta deal with, especially when medical professionals come into play. They have protocols, procedures, and “best practices” that need to be followed. Usually, for good reason, but they can be onerous hurdles to jump over. 

Let’s face reality there aren’t too many miracle cures, healing hands, or potions that will heal that injury, so don’t waste your time looking for them. This isn’t a fantasy novel where wizards and clerics can heal you with a spell, this is real life, and you gotta deal with it. 

Recovery from injuries takes time and if surgery or other medical intervention is necessary even more time. Expect that things will suck bad for a while and that getting to whatever your new normal will be, will take longer than you or others in your life expect or want. It will not happen overnight or even next week, more likely if it is serious, it will take months, or longer.

Don’t over-rely on drugs to mask the pain – that can lead to another very different hellscape.

Recovering from an injury, illness, or whatever isn’t easy, it hurts to do many of the exercises, stretches, and other work necessary to make the progress you want. I also know that it’s hard as hell to maintain the focus mentally you need over the long haul to keep going despite the setbacks that will happen to get to whatever your new normal will be.

It comes down to making a choice and no, the choices are never easy or as black and white as they might seem at first. You can:

  • work our arse off towards whatever our new normal will be. Who knows perhaps that new normal might be better than you before the injury
  • wallow in self-pity or despair and become less than what you could have been
  • or whatever other road you choose to take

However, you look at it, we all become the choices we make.

Make the best ones you can.

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