Harriet, the cats and I are in serious Countdown Mode. We are abuzz with a hundred things to do in a very short period of time. Rose reminds me — hourly — that I certainly could have done a lot of this stuff weeks ago. I want to whine to her in my best-remembered-nasal-Ohia accent, “Well, it’s been too hot and humid since I came back from Oklahoma. And you know how I get in that weather.” Harriet understands because she, like my mother would say, ached like a toothache through that awful weather when the humidity was higher than the temperature. Rose isn’t as understanding. I could refresh her memory and tell her that during that same heat wave, she was not silent about her dislike of the hot-humid-yucky-weather. She’d follow me around the house whining far louder and worse than me and telling me that I was entirely too slow to Turn-On-That-Damn-Air-Conditioner so she could get some sleep. It’s useless to remind her of such things.
Then, like a blessing from above on this Toronto soul — and a lot of other souls too, I’m sure — the humidity broke and energy flowed back into my body. With it came a slight flip-of-the-stomach realization that this whole surgery thing is for real and I better get a lot more focused on what I have to do before it in order to survive after it. Harriet and I have got the exercise routine down pat. Neither of us would consider getting up in the morning and not doing our hour-and-a-half of Strengthen-Or-You-Will-Regret-It-Later Exercises that, Christina, the No-Nonsense, Tough Trainer gave us. Actually, I don’t think I could since the cats — who I swear are in Christina’s hire — have been on the bed every morning with Harriet and me counting to make sure we do all the reps. But it’s necessary, eh? “They” say that the stronger you are going into this surgery, the shorter your recovery time will be afterwards. Hmmm, I’ll believe that when I’m dancing a jig in October.
I think the hardest part of this whole thing is imagining myself not being able to go from here to there on my own. I am a very independent soul. I have taken care of myself by myself for most of my life. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a lot of help from friends and neighbors and family, but, on the whole, I have always been of the mind to Just Do It, Annie, whatever it is. Even with the right arm in a cast, I managed to get myself to work and physio appointments, albeit with a lot of help from friends like Lennie, next door, who zipped my polar fleece vest up every morning so I wouldn’t freeze.
This knee stuff — sorry Harriet — is different because I won’t be able to “just do it”. For one thing, I’ll have stay in the hospital for three days or maybe more. I’ve never, in all my almost 69 years, spent one night in a hospital. Well, as my sister, Mary, reminded me, “except for when you were born.” The only memories I have of that are the not so pleasant ones my mother passed on about her sadness being away from her “kids” on Christmas and weeping as the nurses stood outside the door and sang Christmas Carols. I choose to believe that she also had the memory of her new “kid” being pretty cute and, maybe, even good company on Christmas Eve away from her other nine children.
The other dilemma is that I don’t even know when I’ll be able to come home and climb my 22 stairs to my apartment and the other 13 to the bathroom. I love my home. I love being here in this stair-rich place. So I’ve been advocating to whomever I could to get me just a few more days of physio so I could manage those stairs. The amazing Dr. M, as I wrote previously, just said, “I’ll assess it after surgery.” But that did not stop me from continuing my campaign.
Before my Pre-Admission Day at the Hospital, I asked Len to take a picture of said stairs. I showed it to the nurse. She took one look at it and said, “Oh my God, it looks like something from a horror movie!” I think she imagined me living in a tenament somewhere, rather than this most-lovely house where I do live. (Len did an excellent job, I thought.) I asked her, “So what can you do for me?” She whipped off an e-mail to the surgeon and his wonderful secretary recommending a few more days of respite. Then she said, “Oh, but we’re short-staffed on the weekend in the hospital so there may not be anyone to help you anyway.” Gee, thanks, no thanks, I thought but only smiled. So who knows what will happen on the stair-front.
Meanwhile, I’m doing all the things that I’m supposed to do To Get The House Ready For Your Return. I feel like I’m preparing to bring a new born baby home what with all the equipment I have to get. Luckily, the locker room is full of other generous folks who have done this before me. Janet lent me a cane and a raised throne for the toilet. When I sit on it I feel just like Lily Tomlin’s Edith Ann with my feet, not quite reaching the floor, swinging back and forth. Leslie dropped off a bag of books, and being extremely practical, diapers and stool softeners — Ah, the joy of aging. Len and I went out yesterday and I bought a bath bench and a nifty little bar that clamps onto the tub so I don’t stumble. It was a lot of money to spend on things that are so aesthetically ugly. Then my physiotherapist stopped by last night with her mother’s walker. As she showed me how to use it, she said, “I don’t want you to use it outside and get it dirty.” So why give it to me, I thought? Instead, I said, “Ok?” Renaldo is coming tomorrow to move furniture out of the way so me and the walker that-cannot-go-outside can cruise around. And Lennie and his brother are here, as I write, constructing the second railing on the steps going up to the bathroom.
In reality, it takes a lot of friends and equipment and good will to see me — and Harriet, of course — through this whole thing. We are more grateful than you can even imagine.
You know, All Is and All Shall Be Well. Amen.