If I’m not crafting…

If I’m not doing any art or craft you know things are rough! This knee replacement is way more painful than the first. Although less painful to walk on than my right knee was, the left was the more damaged of the two. The level of bruising and swelling suggests getting it all straight was a brutal process.

I was sent home with just Panadol for pain relief and, after days of mucking round, I’ll finally get something stronger tomorrow. Hopefully life will feel better.

At the moment I only sleep for a couple of hours before waking up in pain then, when I move to get comfortable it turns to agony for a few minutes. There’s a lot of middle-of-the-night tears.

It’s not the new knee that hurts. It’s my hip, which is having to realign itself, and my thigh as I haven’t used that muscle for 9 years, walking from the hip instead. Basically I’ve got dreadful bursitis.

Anyway, by tomorrow afternoon I hope I’ll be able to sit for more than an hour at a time. I need to spend some time at my art desk and art out all the feelings. In the meantime I’ve tried to keep up with my exercises despite the pain, even sending my poor sister photographic evidence!

And it’s done – new knee

I finally had my second total knee replacement last Thursday, and I am incredibly grateful. The anaesthetist decided he wanted to do a general, not a spinal block, for various reasons. He was right – I’m definitely not good surgery material. His decision probably avoided life support again…

The surgery went well, and I was up that afternoon. The surgeon was happy for me to go home after 2 nights but I chose to stay 3 because we’re 90 minutes away if things go wrong. I was able to get a 90 percent bend day one, which he said he hadn’t seen before. Day 2 the physio said I had in the top 10% of movement. So we should be looking at an excellent result.

As with the last one, my hip is causing me a lot of pain and keeping me awake at night. I think it’s just that I’m standing so differently. As Sandra said, I’m taller already! She’s been a star, looking after me but not fussing. If she hears a crash, she doesn’t come running, she checks on the swearing level and yells out to ask if I’m ok. Very sensible.

The initial bruising is coming out quickly, which is a good sign. Obviously the deeper bruises will come out for weeks. Yesterday and today Sandra has dropped me off at Te Mahana and I’ve spent a couple of hours with Tony; it’s good to do a few laps of their halls. Onward and upward, in a few months the pain will be a distant memory.

Imperfect and scarred

My friend Penny and I have been working on a collaborative project, sending works back and forth, adding layers of words, tissue, paint and so on. These aren’t about making pretty art. They’re about documenting stuff that’s deep, and occasionally dark, that we share.

I commented to her tonight that “we are utterly imperfect and that’s totally ok. There is both beauty and survival in our scars.”. Our scars are physical and emotional, surface and deep.

I have a lot of physical scars; there’s a giant one and around a dozen small ones on my stomach alone. A couple of weird – but thankfully faded – ones on the side of my neck from a central IV line. A big one on my right leg from a total knee replacement and, later this coming week, there will be a matching one on the left knee.

It’s the same with the emotional scars … some are small and faded, others deep and persistently livid. I’ve talked about the cause of some on this blog, others there’s only one or two people who know the story. And there’s a couple of scars I can’t ever verbalise – but I have shared most of it, in writing, and in tears.

Scarred inside and out. And that’s okay. The scars are part of me, just as my art is part of me. Like me, my art isn’t about pretty. It’s not made to match people’s furniture or look cute in a cafe. It’s about telling my story in paint when I can’t find the words and, some of the time, shining light on dark things and bringing a sense of lightness to them.

Counting down to a new knee

Recently I spent 10 days in Hokitika, staying with Alan for a break. Penny and I made art & had lunch out (always love Monteiths), I rested, did lots of gelli printing and so on. If I stay home I don’t rest as much because there is always something to do, and I visit Tony every day.

The sun came up towards the end of my stay and Alan had gone out the back of the farm to work. Late in the day I decided to try going for a walk on the farm. Knowing my dodgy knee, and even dodgier sense of direction, I left a note saying where I was going and what time I left. I got quite a long way for me, taking care on the farm track and using my walking stick. Alan met me as he headed back and offered me a ride on the bike – no, I wanted to walk back. I’m nothing if not stubborn! I headed back and met him where he was seeing to the calves, then walked the rest of the way to the house with him. I did about 6,000 stops, which is not a lot for most people, but good for me.

Today I went over to the main admin building. It had been raining so I carefully dried my shoes on the mat, stepped off it … and my walking stick slipped. I wrenched my bad knee and now it hates me. I have to work very hard to stand up, and I’m limping like a limpy thing!

I am having my second total knee replacement in exactly two weeks. All going well, by this time of day I’ll have been for a walk on my new knee with the aid of crutches. I had the blood tests today so they can cross match blood just in case. It’ll be done with a spinal block, which is much safer for me. The only thing that could go wrong now is if Covid gets further down the island.

It’s 9 years since my car accident and 8 years since I started using a walking stick. I can’t wait to walk easily, not worry about steps and disabled carparks, and a million other things. I am so grateful this is being done.

This was the day after surgery last year.