Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings

During this period of hip surgery and rehabilitation, I admit it. I’m not the most emotionally stable person in the world. My feelings are easily shaken. A little research online has shown me that’s pretty normal for people after joint replacements. They give a lot of reasons from the anesthesia, to the pain, to being dependent on others, to the one that struck me most was the most ineffable, most difficult to describe but it’s that for months I lived with pain. Months leading up to that I lived with a deteriorating ability to walk. And then, in something like an hour, some guy cut me open, did a repair job, sewed me up and turned me loose. After that I’m supposed to believe that it’s going to be a WHOLE LOT BETTER. But it doesn’t feel better — not initially — it’s weird. You find yourself in a kind of surreal world with shots and drugs and peculiar S&M devices you’re supposed to wear at night.

How is this better?

Meanwhile your brain tries to eliminate the weird shit that was pumped into it so your body wouldn’t notice the guy going at it with a hack saw.

“Because of all these factors, depression,” said all the articles, “is common among joint replacement patients.” I’d add that many of us are already depressed from pain and immobility before the hacking even begins.

When I met with my physical therapist and told him my goal to take a two mile walk along the Rio Grande with my dogs, he smiled and said, “You’ll do it. You’ll definitely be able to do that.” I cried. He said, “You’re an emotional person anyway, but the anesthesia makes lots of people more emotional.”

“It’s good tears,” I said, “not bad ones.”

And they kept flowing. Triggered by almost anything.

Yesterday I drove to the Big City (Alamosa) to buy groceries and dog food because Lori had let me know Dusty and Bear were out of food. Another weird thing of anesthesia is time is negligible. I thought it was only a couple days before that I’d sent 30 pounds to the kennel but it wasn’t. It was WEEKS!

When I got to the kennel yesterday with enough dog food for three day, I asked Lori if I could see the dogs. There’s a sofa in the front office. I said, “I can sit here and they can come in, can we do that?”

She was worried they’d knock me over and sitting on the sofa solved that problem. First came Dusty T. Dog, talking and looking around, sniffing the air. Then he RAN to me for loving and talked some more. “You can let Bear out too,” I said.

“Are you sure?” Lori asked.

“Yeah. If I can’t be with them now, I won’t be able to bring them home Thursday, right?”

Bear came out, saw me, gave me a half smile and was all over me. I haven’t been able to hug my dogs in 43 days. I was so happy, they were so happy, but I didn’t cry. I guess the anesthesia is finally out of my system.

Today I drive up to Colorado Springs. Tomorrow I see the surgeon. Thursday I come home and so do Dusty and Bear.


26 thoughts on “Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings

  1. Quite the ride, and lots to clear through your system. Glad you are feeling better and its wonderful that the dogs will be home with you on Thursday. Enjoy the Springs!

  2. It sounds like your rehabilitation has entered a new phase. I’m happy for you, Dusty and Bear. I think this post would be a good one to read for anyone planning a joint replacement. I’ve long believed anything is bearable as long as we know in advance exactly what to expect physically, emotionally and mentally. At least I am, I say as I slog through a daily forty- minute round of physical therapy exercises.

    • I agree. That’s why I’ve written so copiously about it — I haven’t found online much of what I really needed/wanted to know so I’ve written it on my blog, not so much because it interests me, but because there’s a human experience involved, too, and some of us who face this are active older adults and I think that affects our mentality toward disability. I really felt “I’m losing all that means LIFE to me!” Others might not feel that way, may not depend so much on the ability to move through space and natural beauty but it’s not an exagerration to say it felt to me as if I was losing God by NOT being able to hike a trail and note the changes and see the birds, the clouds, feel the snow, all of it. For me there is honestly not much point without those things. Those things are my soul.

  3. For what its worth, most surgery is like that. They told me that about my heart surgery except that my heart never bothered me, so fixing it didn’t make me feel improved. Cancer, you feel nothing, so they fix it and you know you’re fixed, but nothing FEELS different. And you don’t have nipples.

    I think of all of the surgeries, the only one where I got immediate relief was removing the bad/loose cartilage in my right knee — arthroscopically — and after the surgery, I could get up and walk away like nothing had happened. Usually, major surgery comes with major depression and a profound sense of loss. It has nothing to do with whether or not they removed something, but I’m told it’s a physical thing — your body was invaded and it is ANGRY. Mentally, you say “now it’s going to be better!” but your body is screaming FUCK YOU!

    One day, you will be completely better. It will creep up on you. Better days, some not so great days. A leap forward, two steps back. Overall, momentum FORWARD.

    With your gritty determination, you WILL get there.

  4. Soon your ‘family’ will be complete again, and it won’t be long before you meet that goal of 2 miles with the dogs! I hope this week is one of the best ever!

  5. Good! ❀ And (this is from experience, it's not advice or kind words)…you WILL feel so much better. You'll be able to walk and even run, as long as you're sensible about it. And the more of those things (well the walking) you do, the better it gets. Really. And the waves of uncontrollable emotions and tears, will disappear. It's one light at the end of what I know can be a really dark and long tunnel..

  6. Glad you are moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel or should I say trail! I’m very happy for you and the dogs, nothing better than being reunited with your family.

  7. I am so glad you wrote about this, Martha. For the first 3 months, when I was having all those crazy cancer surgeries, I know I was depressed. My neck hurt so bad and it was so weak from two surgeries in 2 weeks. I stayed in my pajamas; I couldn’t smile. I knew I was not me. My co-workers were sending me care packages: new jammies, coloring books, chocolate and I would open the boxes and cry and cry. Finally one day, things just changed. I never looked back and gradually they got better. I still don’t look back. I don’t want to go there. I will never be like I was, but I am so much better than I was. I am so excited your week is planned–you get Dusty and Bear back!!

    • I was very happy to learn about all the causes for the depression — I could see how the situation (your cancer, my joints) were depressing (and in your case scary) but the emotions were like storms (for me anyway). Like you, everyone around me was showering me with love and it meant so much to me, and I’ll be forever grateful for it, but inside was a knot of something trying to open up, break free. I remember when it happened, but not the circumstances and I regret that because I think it matters. But…

Comments are closed.