I know what’s ahead, I don’t know when, I only know one thing. I don’t want rehab to take long or be difficult. I really don’t care about the rest. At a certain point I’m going to surrender to whatever arrangements I have to make. And then, as the last time, I’m going to be cleaned and dressed in appropriate surgery attire. I’m going to be lain on a gurney and put in a pre-op room. Probably, like last time, a priest or something will come in and ask my permission to pray over/with me. I’ll say yes. Why? Do I believe in prayer? That’s probably another blog post, but I do believe in being kind and whoever is going around from gurney to gurney is offering up the best they have to strangers. I appreciate that.
Then the drugs will kick in and I won’t have a clue for several hours, after which I don’t have to decide any more what I’m going to do. It will be a fait accompli and I will be in the early stages of rehab.
I lay it on Bear every single day, “This is for you,” I tell her. She’s cool with it. It’s not like it’s a guilt trip or something. All I want to do is walk my dogs. If I can’t walk Bear, I can’t keep her. I love her too much to make her live with an old lady who can’t walk. She’s young and fit and happy and LOVES going “hunting” with me. Our “hunt” doesn’t even have to be long or interesting. Sometimes I am only up to a half-mile walk around the hood, and that’s fine with her. She has always met me halfway. I have the same duty to her, I believe. She hates “rest” days, but they’re necessary. Today is a dog rest day; tomorrow a person rest day — they’ll get a short walk while I recover from three days of pretty intense “training.”
An article I read about “pre-habbing” for joint replacement said to view it as training for a major sport event. That’s pretty accurate. Joint surgery is strenuous.
A study by researchers at New England Baptist Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, all based in Boston, found that knee and hip replacement surgery patients who had participated in water- and land-based strength training, and aerobic and flexibility exercises for six weeks prior to their surgeries reduced their odds of needing inpatient rehabilitation by 73 percent.
“Even in a fairly brief time period, the exercise paid off for the participants,” says lead study author Daniel Rooks, PHD, former clinical research investigator and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Their level of function and pain stabilized prior to surgery, whereas those who did not exercise got worse. The benefits of exercise before surgery are very clear.” (Source)
And it’s OK with me. I like exercise. I’ve always done a lot of it. I don’t mind riding a stationary bike, though I prefer walking outdoors. The bike — a Schwinn Airdyne — is zero impact and addresses the conditioning of more muscles than does walking. I can also ride it longer (meaning “farther”) than I can walk. But walking is not so bad with a stick or a cane. My goal for walking is 3 miles in an hour. That’s a respectable and doable goal. The bike will help with the walking goal. At the moment I CAN walk 3 miles, but not that fast, but I CAN walk 1 mile that fast.
And more exercise actually does translate to less pain.
Exercise can actually help to relieve joint pain in multiple ways:
It increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles and connective tissue surrounding the joints. When thigh muscles are stronger, for example, they can help support the knee, thus relieving some of the pressure on that joint.
Exercise relieves stiffness, which itself can be painful. The body is made to move. When not exercised, the tendons, muscles, and ligaments quickly shorten and tense up. But exercise — and stretching afterward — can help reduce stiffness and preserve or extend your range of motion.
It boosts production of synovial fluid, the lubricant inside the joints. Synovial fluid helps to bring oxygen and nutrients into joints. Thus, exercise helps keep your joints “well-oiled.”
It increases production of natural compounds in the body that help tamp down pain. In other words, without exercise, you are more sensitive to every twinge. With it, you have a measure of natural pain protection.
It helps you keep your weight under control, which can help relieve pressure in weight-bearing joints, such as your hips, knees, and ankles. (Source)
I know that is “up to a point.” If my hip were at “end stage arthritis” that wouldn’t be the case.
Just a few minutes ago I finished riding the Airdyne. Bear was waiting outside the spare room where the “bike” is. I came out and said, “It’s all for you, Bear.” She waited until I sat down and she climbed on my lap, her way of saying, “You did good, Martha.”