If you’re just reading about my adventure with a knee replacement here, that’s fine. If you’d like to check out Part One, read here. Otherwise, this is about the icy depression that settled in my soul, post surgery.
At some point, I was feeling well enough to sit up in a chair with my laptop on a portable table. I thought, “Well, I really should post something on my site’s blog about this adventure. After all, the site’s about finding sanity and peace, let’s share my damn brilliant insights with the masses!” I sat there, opened up to the WordPress page, and…
I got nothing man. I felt…blank.
I figured I wouldn’t give in to the whole “I sat staring at the screen”, locked-brain thing, I was surely stronger than this. So I forced myself to pick up my hands and start typing. Excellent! Except my arms suddenly weighed too much. My hands felt like wooden blocks, and none of that cheap balsa wood stuff, nooo, I’m talking full-on mahogany. My arms felt just as heavy and awkward. I could continue like this and add that my heart had turned to stone, but who am I to be overly dramatic? Oh right, you’ve met me. Still – I wasn’t in a good place. That part is real.
Looking at the computer, I just didn’t know what to say. Weird, with all kinds of life events I always have something to say (sometimes too much), I always have a reaction (sometimes an over-reaction) – what fresh hell was this? But really, it didn’t take much to figure out the score, I was depressed.
Hell, it made sense. I was in physical pain, some of it quite bad at times. I was almost 100% dependent on someone else, at least for several days, and even as I did more and more, there was STILL so much I couldn’t do.
I don’t always sleep well, but things had become worse. I was sleeping on a couch in the den and had to pretty much lay on my back, which I wasn’t used to, if I tried to sleep on either my knee hurt. If I did fall asleep, pain would often wake me up.
I could rarely ‘sleep in’ the next morning, there was always either the visiting nurse, or visiting PT who was due in two hours, and it took me a good 45 minutes to get washed up and dressed. I was also on narcotics, which helped the pain, but left me a little groggy AND as a bonus parting gift – constipated. Great stuff. Not to mention totally off my regular schedule of life. Where was my ‘to-do’ list? I was really unnerved by this new non-schedule. Oh, and I couldn’t drive. It was my right knee damn it, so when it was time to arrange my outpatient physical therapy, I had to find rides. This was a bit demoralizing in itself.
I don’t know why this bugged me, and I didn’t have too tough of a time lining up a few helpful souls, but still, it was awkward. AND I think it was mostly awkward for just me. I had to get over myself, and my lost independence. IT WAS GOING TO BE TEMPORARY!! Still – I got cranky.
In the middle of all this, one Monday in March I woke up feeling poorly. It took me a little bit to put it together, and I realized I was having a diverticulitis flare. It felt worse than what I’d experienced in the past. I did what I always do, I started using my essential oils. The last couple of times this happened the oils worked fine, but not this day. I was in a lot of pain and my husband brought me to the doctor. I started on antibiotics that night and felt much better in a few days, and managed to even go to the movies with friends on Thursday. But Friday there was some kind of relapse and I ended up in the ER on Sunday. Through all of this I was trying to follow a bland diet, which meant pudding, applesauce, chicken noodle soup, and mashed potatoes. Not a lot of fun.
Did I mention the ugly crying? No? Oh well, there was lots. Starting in the hospital, the day after surgery, and ending…probably not yet…but the most recent time was Marathon Monday in the late evening once we finally got home – this was the freakiest session ever. I think I scared everyone. Hyperventilating and gasping out… “I can’t stop…I can’t stop” It was nasty. However, it had been a couple of long-ass days, so it made sense I guess.
The other day I went for a follow up visit for the gut stuff, plus my BP had been a little high the last time, which is unusual for me. This time my BP was fine, and I’d even lost some weight, so that was all good. My knee is slowly progressing, and as we spoke about all these things I eventually talked “about my feelings.”
When Kathy, the nurse practitioner, paraphrased my words back to me, “no desire to do things that in the past has brought you pleasure,” it was clear to her that I was depressed. I think she was glad I was speaking in upbeat tones, and when I told her that I could finally drive again, she told me her first thought was “freedom!” I knew when I first realized I was depressed, that it was temporary. OK, I am prone to depression, so how temporary, I’m not 100% sure on, but I wasn’t overly freaked out. Like I laid out already, there were good reasons to feel messed up.
But now that it’s really been mentioned in front of a health professional, and written here, I owe it to myself and my family to keep aware and work hard to shifting back to normal. It’s a process, like anything. And there is no real normal, but there can be measures of happiness, productivity, and yes, sanity.