Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I Sing the Right Knee Electric

I wear my TENS unit as we speak. It's a delightful trippy little appliance that adorns my (organic...so far) right knee. This joint is increasingly camouflaged under both unloading brace and now the wires & pads of a Jumper Cables play-at-home edition.

A nice little deck chair for my Titanic.

(Let me just say that my being forthright in describing this scene is an amazing departure from the terror of most of my life. Not knowing an outcome used to cause me only shame, secrecy and the agony of limbo. I hereby award myself Two Points for courage under public scrutiny.)


My physical therapist knew me from my post-amputation days there on the sunny eighth floor of the hospital. (I fell off the treadmill my first day. In his defense, he said, "I've never worked with such a high-performing above-knee amputee before!")

Yesterday he informed his PT-trainee/minion, "When most people say they have a high tolerance for pain, they're kidding themselves. When Liz says so, it's true."

He looked at my xrays and said something like, "Total deterioration of the medial something something." He directed his minion to manipulate my leg. He watched as I eventually shouted, "NO! THAT HURTS! I WILL NOT BEND IT MORE!"

He marveled at the slippage and crunching sounds as my knee moved into positions where No Knee Has Gone Before.

He told his minion, "Can you hear that? I can here that from here!"

I felt so validated I almost wept.

My life under the influence of PTSD has made me appreciate the mundane, all dull routines and comfortable boredom. Give me a schedule. Give me chores to do, horses to feed, seasons to follow. It's the antidote for that day during childhood when my world collapsed.

But I also appreciate the affirmation of someone saying, "This is bad. It's as bad as it could be." That brings tears of relief to my eyes.

I'm not crazy. This is messed up. Scott the PT told me to come back in a couple days for an adjustment, another application. I started to complain but he held up a hand.

"I know," he said. "But we have to jump through the hoops."

He's exactly right. I will have no credibility with the insurance overlords until this is documented ad nauseum. I'm grateful to count people like Scott on my side in this trip towards...towards...yeah. Say it, Liz: towards total knee replacement. Soon. This summer. Even though I only have one leg. But I'd rather be gritting my teeth to get through the pain of recovery and rehab rather than this equally painful degeneration. Right now I can barely walk.

So I learned about the sticky pads and red & black little fittings of the TENS unit. What numbers to turn it to. The 9-volt batteries it requires. It fits neatly into the thigh pocket of my cargo shorts.

The 1980's are like yesterday to me. So I think I'll call this my Walk-Ma'am.


  1. You can do it Liz. A new knee for a new woman! I wish you could go tomorrow and get it over with. I imagine the only thing worse than the never ending pain would be knowing there is an end in sight and just having to wait for it.

  2. Thanks. Like well-trained horse, I can wait & be ready...not submissive in a bad way, but patient, so I can GO again. B-)

  3. Liz - soon to be the bionic woman! Keep your chin up and jump through those frickin-frackin' hoops. You can always land in a shoulder roll.

  4. I just hope being the BW is an improvement on this state. Hoop-jumping is not easy right now, but I guess it never is. Thanks.

  5. aaahhhh, the 80's. If only your walkmaam could play videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKoR6BEErlc

    1. Nice, h.c. I think I'll skip the bionics & go straight to cyberspace. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2fkIidxp74&feature=related