Monday, August 27, 2012

Physical Progress Report (A Good One)

So to begin with, I had to have arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus on my right knee.  That was on 23 July.  It slowed me down the week before and the week after, but I am long since back to normal, using the Lofstrand crutches and resorting to the walker only for trips to the loo in the middle of the night.  And I had GREAT pre-surgical drugs!  Wheeee!

Then today Gwen, my physical therapist, kicked me out ('discharged' is the word they use),  after watching me walk using only the right-hand crutch.  I now have orders to use only one crutch at all times when at home but still two when out and about.  The idea is to depend on it less and less as time goes slowly by.  Tomorrow morning I will carry my cup of coffee from the kitchen to my desk once again, as I had been doing for a while before the knee slowed me down.  (I didn't spill, either). Today Gwen made me walk across their kitchen carrying a plate with both hands, using no crutch.  I whimpered and howled with fear but I made it with her hand on my back.

Also, I have re-joined the YMCA, and I started lifting weights again on the 20th, including leg extensions, leg presses and an abducting butt builder.  The upper body work is just plain male vanity, of course, but it sure feels good, and the upper body strength that I had developed over the years helped me through my lower paraplegia immensely.  Still does.  Good to know I did something right before this slow motion s***storm began and knocked me down and out.

I have to wear orthotic devices on both lower legs that prevent the knees from hyper extending by keeping my weight forward and toward the balls of my feet rather than on my heels.  They are an ugly nuisance but I walk much more correctly and comfortably whilst using them.  Naturally, I hope that in time I can toss them, but there are no guarantees of anything, and I have to protect the knees: no knees, no walk.  The biggest problem with them is that I have been tested to drive and can do so again, but not with those devices on; they prevent dorsa-flexion of the ankle that is required for both braking and acceleration.  Simple sigh . . .

Gwen, by the way, has been working with me three times per week since the first of March and she has been superb in all ways, though she tended to be offended at my occasionally colorful language and disconcerted by my yelps of pain or fear.  I will see her again in November to determine how things stand in her opinion and mine.  I cannot praise this woman enough, and have both respect and genuine affection for her as professional and person.  We hugged before I left for Europe in May, and we hugged today.  I teared up a bit, I don't mind admitting (I am 70 after all, and we old farts tend to be a bit sentimental; my father-in-law called it 'seventy-mental').

I have begun to slowly get back to professional work: I will be subbing for the wonderful woman here at the local community college in October and November, including one concert; am going out to LA in November for a festival adjudication with clinics; making plans for a winter residency in Oregon; making plans for a short spring USC Chamber Choir Reunion tour in Spanish and French Basqueland, where we will rehearse more than perform and eat and drink more than we rehearse (sound about right?); finally, I will possibly be going back for another extended residency (my sixth) with a professional chorus in Korea in the foreseeable future.

 I have come to the end of my celebratory martini, and I will carry the glass back to the kitchen in my left hand whilst using a crutch only in the right.

Mazeltov to me for now at least.