Yesterday at this time I was waking up in the recovery room after my knee surgery. Today I am comfortably enthroned in my living room recliner with my leg propped up on a fat pillow. Knee Cryo/cuff combines compression with coldThe knee, still bearing the initials of the surgeon who had to write on it to make sure he operated on the correct one, is wrapped in dressings and an Ace bandage and on top of that I’ve wrapped on a Cryo/cuff for compression and cold therapy. It’s a nifty device they used to give out at the hospital but don’t anymore so I bought one of my own.  There’s a cooler that you fill with ice and water, a wrap thing that looks like a giant blood pressure cuff, and some tubing. The ice water fills the cuff and keeps the joint cold for long stretches of time far more effectively than hopping up and getting bags of ice repeatedly. Living alone makes this even more necessary. Recovery goes faster – less swelling and definitely good for pain management. Of course, I also have a nice big bottle of Percoset and am taking one every 4 hours to stay ahead of the pain, at least for the first 48 hours.

I prepared everything I could think of in advance and it paid off. Trying to carry things while on crutches – and needing them – is almost impossible, especially when the things are plastic containers of food or bottles of water. Or a full Cryo/cuff cooler with ice water in it. Too hard to manage. So I’m really glad I bought the little wheeled cart with baskets that I can push around ahead of me when I move around. The carpet has interesting tracks from the cart wheels and the bottom of the crutches. I have food in the fridge for lunches and dinners for a few days; all I have to do is pull out and eat, right in the container. I felt a little overly obsessed when I was doing it, not to mention tired, but now I’m happy to just get it out and hobble back to my comfortable chair.

I don’t really know what happened in the surgery – the surgeon was doing a hip replacement which takes a long time and wasn’t able to come out and talk with me when I was awake. But I know what was planned and hopefully there weren’t any surprises. I have exercises to do and can take off the dressing tomorrow night, but must keep the area wrapped until I get my stitches out. I do have some interesting pictures taken of the inside of my knee but they look like moonscapes; I haven’t a clue what they are so they’re not icky.

Waiting for surgery alone is hard. There I was in this dumb little johnny that didn’t fit well – making me feel fat and uncomfortable from the start – in a curtained area of a freezing room full of bustling people. I’d been fitted for crutches and had my instructions and practice in using them for walking and stairs, and listened to at least 10 other people go through the same (the practice stairs were across from my bed). But I was alone, no one to wait with me to distract me. I’ve had a number of operations at this hospital and only once had someone to wait with me, and it’s always been hard when things are reduced to the point of waiting for the IV, waiting for the doctor, waiting for things I don’t know but have to happen before I go up to the OR.

The time for my surgery came and went and still I sat there; good thing I brought a book. I worried about the person giving me a ride home. The delay would push things beyond what she had thought she was getting into and I didn’t want to be putting her to more trouble than she was already going to on my behalf. But there was nothing I could do. I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was alone. And yes, I was getting more nervous as others who came after me went up to surgery while I waited.

I am so grateful for my friend’s support in coming to take me home. She waited for me to be ready, got me settled in the car, stopped at the store to pick up bags of ice and some coated aspirin, and made sure I had everything I needed close at hand when I got home. She even loaned me a Coleman cooler, something I hadn’t even thought about, to put extra ice in. It’s a godsend since I’m going through ice for the cooler to chill the knee and my freezer isn’t that big. She is a true friend, there for me when I really needed her. As others have been – I’ve been checked on today by three other friends who just wanted to make sure I was doing okay.

Living alone doesn’t have to mean living lonely and I’m a lucky person.