Today, I reached into the “Wayback Machine” (you’re welcome, fans of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show), and I grabbed a very early blog entry. It goes back to 2017, written shortly after my knee replacement surgery. I remember that I experienced some mild reactive depression, and this blog was therapeutic for me to write. I hope it is helpful for you too…
I am now nine days post knee replacement surgery, and the healing progress is real, but, in my thinking, interminably slow. Such thinking is undoubtedly formed by excess hubris on the part of the patient, painful but true. However, there have been many lessons already in this process, even though that process is quite new. Time indeed is relative, even though in a different sense than Albert Einstein explained it.
I am struck first by the fact that the struggles of rehabilitation from surgery are often much more mental than physical. It goes without saying that there are significant physical struggles, but the will to do the hard work of rehab, to force oneself time and again to engage pain because you know it is good for you, takes a certain amount of faith. I trust that the principle of “no pain, no gain” is true, however, that does not make me want to engage it. That is a moment by moment battle to “just do a little more”.
There is also an immutable law of nature which is paradoxical. In order for new life to happen, there must be a death somewhere. The renewal of our bodies, and indeed that of all nature, only takes place by the old cells which have died being replaced by new cells. Muscles which have been damaged by surgery must be rebuilt and strengthened. In the words of the Bible, (John 12:24) “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (New Living Translation)
Another lesson from rehab is that “use it or lose it” is proven once again as another universal truth. Lay off using muscles for a few days and muscles believe that their owner has died, or decided to die, so they might as well retire. They start to atrophy right after we stop using them for a while. The point here is that the sooner we use every muscle we can, the sooner we heal.
Finally, one must decide to be well. I know that just because we decide to be well that such decision alone does not make us well. However, if we do not choose to be well, we cannot be well. There is a certain despair that hits everyone at various times- that self-defeating part of all of us, which tells us that this healing is never going to happen. “Just give up and stay in bed” it tells us. I suggest that this happens to everyone, regardless of surgery or anything else. There are times we just want to give up and go to bed. I think it is reasonable to visit this place in our head, and even entertain it for a very short while. However, we can only visit this place, we cannot live there.
I write this as self-healing, so thank you for indulging that. However, the much higher purpose is to engage the reader to think about some laws of nature and how we deal with them. Healing is a great gift, but it comes with cost. We need to allow others to help us in this process, and we need to push ourselves to do the work of healing. I am learning on that journey, and it is good for me. We learn from pain and we better understand the wonderful plan of how healing really works.