Alta states 

Taking stock – Life lessons from an arthritis clinic


"I understand that pain leapfrogs over language and lands in dumb growls beyond time. A place where there is no speech and no clock, no means of separating the moment or its misery. Nobody comes and nobody goes. It is a place unvisited by civilization. Civilization has not happened."

- Jeannette Winterson, Gut Symmetries

Yeah baby. I was back. On my bike. On the road. The wind whistled through my hair. Sang its song of freedom in my ears. Nice weather too. Not too hot, not too cold. Sunshine on my back and big fat sheepish clouds on the horizon - all was good with the world, I thought. I was on my self-propelled way.

And totally happy. So much fun to be mobile again. So restful to be out of the house. For a semi-civilized ol' bear like me, it made all the difference. As for the new knee, it was doing just fine. But I wasn't going to push it. I was happy just to cruise along in my baby gear and work on my cadence.

Yeah right.

Maybe it was the adrenaline of the moment. Maybe it was just all the fresh air in my face. Whatever. I hadn't felt this good in months. Chained to my chair until my knee could bend enough to spin again, I'd spent the last few weeks an impatient prisoner of passivity. I hadn't pushed my heartbeat into the three-digit range since the operation. That was strange too. I didn't think I'd ever spent that much time in quiet mode.

Slowly my pulse increased.

Spinning. Freewheeling. Just rolling effortlessly along. I felt like Atlas released from his morbid hold. Sisyphus delivered of his annoying rock. Prometheus unchained even. I felt alive again. And I let my mind wander over the last few weeks. The humbling helplessness of the first few post-op days: Oooh, those were nasty. The frustration of watching my muscles atrophy. Feeling my strength drain away. So quick to disappear; so cruel in its thoughtless departure. And then the slow - very slow - path back to "health."

Did I mention the pain? Incessant. Penetrating. Demanding. Infecting every second of the day. Cackling inside my ear. Reverberating deep in my gut. It had taken hold of my soul and squeezed and pinched it until I was dry of tears.

And it brought me to a whole new understanding of my oh-so-human limitations. Meaning? I don't know what it's like for other new-knee people, but my first two months of post-op recovery were as tough to bear as anything I've ever experienced.

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