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Harriet — my poorly-about-to-be-cut-open left knee — is acting up the last couple of days. She’s jabbing me with little pains that she has been holding in reserve the last month or so. I don’t appreciate it at all. I think it has something to do with the five (5) hours the two of us spent at the hospital this week. We were poked and x-rayed and lectured and even questioned about our vices — mine, not Harriet’s, she has none except being connected to me, poor thing. I was very honest about my wine consumption. The nurse asking did not even raise an eyebrow — I think she, too, is a wine drinker. I proudly told her I haven’t smoked in 27 years and I never imbibed in illegal substances — well, at least not recently.

When it was my turn to ask her questions, I passionately told her of my 22-steps to my apartment and another 13-steps to the bathroom. I even showed her this picture that IMG_0666Len had taken the night before. She said, “Wow. It looks like something from an horror film.” I thought Len did a fabulous job of making it as daunting looking as possible. Then I pulled out my other argument. Here we are — me and Harriet — living all alone by ourselves with all these scarey steps. She said, “Hmm. That’s a lot of steps. But we’ve had lots of patients who had to go home to steps.” I said, nicely, but firmly, “They were not me.” She at least smiled at that. Then, I asked, “What can you do?” My squeaky wheel just kept travelling on until she agreed to e-mail God, aka Dr. M, recommending that I get a few more days of respite. I could almost hear him as he read it, repeating what he already told me “I will assess her after surgery!” He was just across the hall, so maybe I actually did hear him say it. Hope my squeaky wheel doesn’t get on his nerves before surgery and before he makes his decision about extra care. I’ll be good from now on.

After my hour with a nurse and more prods, and swabs, we — all the “knee” folks who had been sitting in the waiting area — were taken upstairs for the next part of the program. I have to say that compared to the other folks in the room, Harriet and I looked pretty good. I wondered if any of them have named their bad knees — probably not. I didn’t introduce Harriet in case one of them thought I was already on drugs and started fretting that I might be in a room with them. But you know what? Naming Harriet has made the whole process easier to get through in a way. I think I could wholeheartedly recommend The Naming of The Bad Knee to anyone who was going through this surgery. Well, just so they don’t use “Harriet,” of course. There is, and can only be, one Left Knee Harriet.

So there we were, all assembled in a windowless conference room eager(?) to find out about “Our Stay in the Hospital”. One of the young women sitting in the corner got up and plugged in a video to show us. No popcorn was served. Everyone in the film looked happy and content in their pain and discomfort. The staff smiled and the surroundings were sunny and bright and very modern. Every once in a while, when the narrator would talk about “PAIN” and “EXERCISE,” the actor would take his cue and scrunch his face up into a grimace as he shuffled his own Harriet down the corridor for his first walk post-surgery.  Then they told us that we would be giving ourselves blood thinner shots in our bellies for ten days after surgery. This caused a universal moan from the room. One of the young women in the corner, condescendingly looked at us, smiling and mouthing “It’s not really that bad at all.” Why do people who have never done it to themselves say stupid things like that?

After the film, it was time for live performances by these two women — one was a therapist and the other a nurse practitioner. The latter went first. Her opening salvo was, “For 12 hours you will feel no pain. But then, oh then, you are going to have lots and lots and lots of pain.” I think she took pleasure telling us that. Harriet twitched. I assured her I would definitely TAKE THE DRUGS when offered. Then, just because it got such a good reaction the first time, she spent the next five minutes talking about those shots in the belly. Then the physiotherapist was on. She showed us the exercises our poor, injured, hurting legs were going to have to go through immediately after surgery. They all looked a lot like the ones the No-Nonsense-Tough Trainer has given me to do pre-surgery. Maybe she does know what she’s talking about, eh?

To end the day, I had a private get together with a 12-year-old anesthesiologist. As I followed him down the hall, I joked, “Gosh, they left the scariest and best to last.” He looked around and I knew he did not appreciate my sarcastic humor. Then he turned around again and said, “Wow, that’s great. You kept your sense of humor through all this.” He was wearing a pin with the word “pain” with a line through it. I admired it. He did not offer me one but said, very seriously, “That is our goal.” Right on. I listened attentively to his description of what they were going to do to numb the hell out of me and Harriet. Harriet was particularly interested in the part about freezing her immediately even before the needle in the back and the lovely drugs to make me sleepy throughout.

So that’s all they wrote — well until 16 September. In the meantime, I will diligently do the No-Nonsense-Tough Trainer’s exercises. Go to the pool every day and start filling the freezer up with food. Harriet is taking up Meditation and lots of deep breathing. I’ll start calling her Guru Harriet if it makes her feel better.

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