Adventures in Knee Surgery; or, Why It’s Never Hopeless
As you probably know, yesterday was a big day for me, because I was getting a whole hunk of nasty metal removed from my knee. I needed it, back in the days when I was 290lbs – that stuff was the structure that was holding me up. But as time’s gone on, and I’ve grown ever fitter (whilst reducing the weight pressing down on those poor ol’ knees of mine), my body’s decided that this metal had to go. Stat.
It’s been giving me issues for a while now, and having had the surgery postponed by a month already, I was actually kind of looking forward to just getting it over with – especially as I’d be awake for the duration of the op, which as you can imagine, was just laugh a minute. Here’s how much I was looking forward to it beforehand – and please do bear in mind that this was taken very early in the morning, on a day when I was neither allowed to eat or drink, nor wear any make-up:
Oh yeah. Delighted.
Anyway, it turns out there’s nothing quite like watching a friendly surgeon have at you with a scalpel and what I can only describe as a GIANT screwdriver, while you’re wearing a hospital gown and huge paper pants, listening to Cliff Richard playing through the stereo system and discussing your favourite curry houses with the nursing staff. There was an absurdity to it that I think even Dali would appreciate – and I’ve got to say, it makes me very glad I’ve got a sense of humour.
Luckily, I couldn’t feel a thing – obviously – and once I got back to the ward, I was immediately gearing up to get my butt home. I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys hospitals – and having sampled the coffee, I knew this wasn’t a place I could settle for long. I’m not a snob about much, but coffee… Nah. No man should ever get between me and my espresso, scalpel and life-improving surgery or not. So off I went – back to my parents’ house, where so far I have eaten a LOT of chocolate.
Given the circumstances, I don’t think that’s unreasonable.
Being back on crutches – albeit hopefully not for too long – has given me a real opportunity to think about what got me to my heaviest point in the first place. And it’s given me an insight into how bad things were back then, which I think time had eased off a bit.
For a start, the constant pain of being on crutches not just for my knees, but for my back and shoulders, was always an issue. My wrists would crack, and I couldn’t fully lift myself up and over without dragging my foot a little on the floor without feeling like my arms would break – so it’d always be uncomfortable to move around.
I was also always too hot and uncomfortable. One of the things you discover rapidly once you’ve had knee surgery is how much it sucks to be stuck sitting square on your bum. Wriggling to get comfortable provides a little bit of relief – but it’s much easier to make that wriggle happen when you’re not carrying all that extra weight. Balance was another issue – it’s hard not to fall when you’re nearly 300lbs and on crutches, and I’ll be the first to admit that even now I’m pretty much the least balanced or graceful person in any yoga class – but again, it’s easier now than it was before.
These things can make the recovery period seem so much longer, and more painful. I won’t deny that today is not the comfiest day I’ve ever had – although I do think things like yoga and mindful breathing have made me better equipped to deal with it than I was before – but it’s a different world from where I was at then.
The trouble is, that knowing how bad things were, I can completely, wholeheartedly understand why I was comfort eating, knowing that it was making things worse. I won’t deny that I have eaten a LOT of Cadbury’s Roses in the last 24 hours – but it’s nowhere near the binge eating I’d indulge in, day in, day out. Because back then, I’d given up. I’d quit.
I thought I’d be on crutches, dealing with all that pain, every moment of every day, forever. I thought I’d always be eating fatty, carb-heavy foods to try to combat the sickness that came with a cocktail of painkillers and anti-inflammatory meds – and I thought, once I broke up with my then-boyfriend, that I’d be single and forced to eat ready meals and takeaway forever, because I couldn’t hold myself up in the kitchen long enough to cook.
I’ll be honest – that, there, was rock bottom. And when my surgeon at the time said to me that my knee problems would almost certainly ease off if I could lose some weight, he might as well have said I needed to jump over the moon – because how, exactly, was I supposed to lose this weight when I couldn’t even walk?
I’m not writing this here to be self-pitying, or to show off about how far I’ve come. I just think it’s worth knowing that even when you think it’s “impossible” to pick yourself up and get on with improving your life – whether that’s through losing weight, or something else – it’s really not. Being back on my crutches has given me a huge reminder of how utterly impossible it seemed to me at that point – and how I’d pretty much resigned myself to being stuck on crutches, battling against pain and the discomfort of being morbidly obese, forever.
It’s also made me realise how important it is to credit yourself for every single step you take towards making positive changes, no matter where you’re starting from. You can come back from pretty much anything, if you really believe in yourself, and are committed to sticking with it for the long-term. Eventually, all those tiny bits of progress – those extra two minutes you did on the treadmill, the time you took the stairs instead of the lift, that decision not to go back for seconds at dinner – will start to accumulate into big ol’ changes that you see across your whole life.
So to anyone who’s come across this blog thinking that it’s hopeless – it’s not. And once I’m back on my feet, I’m totally going to prove it – for the old me that thought I never could.