The other day I saw a man who had the telling scar of a knee replacement, and what made it unusual is that I noticed his knee was stiff and not very workable, so he had learned to swing it in a walking motion instead of walking with a normal gait.
When I asked about his surgery, he admitted that he had not done all the exercises that were required right after the surgery and the knee healed in a stiff position. I am sure that he could stretch the muscles and sinew to make his walking easier and more natural, but here he is many years later, and he has grown comfortable with the swinging step instead of a solid knee lift and set down motion of a solid step.
I am no expert on knee surgery, but I do have two new knees. It has been a couple of years since my surgery, and I will joyfully and freely admit it has been life-changing to be able to walk without pain.
Like many of you, I grew up playing sports. Back then we didn’t know to buy new tennis shoes so often (and for different sports). One pair usually held us for the year, so if the heel was worn down, we compensated so we would never miss a game. And then life and extra pounds of not playing ball every day after school begin to take their toll. Then joining the gym and wanting to relive the glory days also take their toll, and then one day you’re having a hard time walking in the morning and late at night when your body gets tired and your knees hurt. So off to the doctor you go, and lo and behold, after a few trial procedures of shots and gels and other options, you understand that if you want to maintain an active lifestyle and get back to being your old self, you will need new knees.
The surgery is not bad (at least it wasn’t for me). It’s the getting up a few hours after surgery to stand and move just a bit to make sure the body is functioning well that is a shock to the system. Then the blessing of a shower three days later is almost as good as a tropical vacation.
Once you pass “joint camp” and they teach you the proper exercises for full movement, you get to go home. Then the personal choice is made to either work the knee as best you can while lying in bed or holding on to the counter to do your exercises or sit in the Lazy-Boy and watch TV with an occasional walker-shuffle to the bathroom and then back to the safety of the chair.
In most cases, a physical therapist will come to the home to help you with the slightly painful exercises for full movement, and they will help you learn to walk again without swinging the leg (an easy thing to do). They will insist on the bending and stretching of a new knee and, simply put, it will take patience, perseverance and practice.
And if you wimp out on the patience, the perseverance and the practice (or any one of the three requirements), the healing will take longer, and the end result could be compromised.
Okay, so I know you didn’t sign up to read “Deb’s New Knee Adventure,” but watching the gentleman struggle really hit home to me. Of course I am not sure why his knee is not working great–he probably doesn’t even know–but I know this: there is no shortcut regaining the power of the knee to function properly without patience, perseverance and practice. And that visual of the stiff knee man and the daily reminder of my two gifts of new knees made me stop and think about what it takes in life to successfully push past the pain and hurt that so many people feel darkens their life.
It was John Quincy Adams who said, “Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
I like that thought because it is true, and it is a great reminder that successfully pushing past the pain and hurt in our lives will not happen overnight. To be truly healed will, in most cases, take patience, perseverance and practice for the long-haul until the mending of life begins and you settle into a comfortable routine, which allows you to live in the joy of the moment day after day.
Without a doubt, you know that anything that is broken or hurt needs time to heal. And yet we are all guilty of rushing from one quick fix to another looking for a magic potion to make the pain go away, only to be disappointed and back to square one for a reset on complete healing.
Think about the last cold or fever you had. You were miserable, and then one day you felt a bit better and pushed yourself only to find that your one step forward now caused three steps back. And here you are moaning and groaning about the pain of being sick and physically hurting when if you had just waited until the full healing you would not have had a relapse.
Last week my theme was focused on pushing yourself because no one is going to do it for you, and while that is true, don’t forget the other side of the equation, which is that sometimes you need slow down and get well before you can push yourself to be your best.
I am not saying you should not push yourself to do what needs to be done. Just be careful that you do not hurry the process or push in the wrong direction, or you will be back to square one with damage that will take longer to heal and very well might not heal correctly.
The late motivational preacher, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, is famous for saying, “Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.”
As we head towards autumn, this is still a good reminder: As hard as you push in the right direction to make your dreams come true, don’t forget to practice patience and perseverance, so that your physical, emotional and mental healing will be complete and whole, and you can run the distance with strength and power.
Napoleon Hill, the father of the self-help movement, said that “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” And I completely agree that it takes all three attributes to create a life of joy that is long-lasting and fulfilling, and in my book, that is the end goal of living a life well-lived.
In this life, we are going to experience pain and hurt whether it is from friends, family or co-workers. And for some reading or listening by podcast, that pain is emotional or mental or, dare I say it, physical (if physical, you need to take action and walk away). While your head will pound with the desire to push through and be done so you can move on to the next responsibility or adventure, you also need to be self-aware enough to understand your limit to absorb the pressure and learn how to make accommodations so you can carefully and safely move to your next obligation.
Working through pain might be the mantra of MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters, but most of us have not pushed our bodies to the flat line of pain and recovered enough to fight another day. The average age of an MMA fighter is in the mid-30s. For many of us, those days are long gone. Be wise where you are at this stage in life, and take the long view, so your healing from pain and hurt will be fully recovered as you journey into the next chapter of your life. No doubt, you’ll get there ready to go and with a spring in your step if you follow the path of patience, perseverance and practice for the rest of your days.
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