A New Normal

David had his surgery a week ago on Wednesday. The surgeon said that David really "blew his knee apart." Not only did the surgeon have to reattach the patellar tendon, he also had to repair the tendons on both sides of David's leg. The physician's estimate is that it will take David at least six months to heal, given it was such a major repair.

The first three days after surgery were really rough. When the surgeon told me that this same operation used to require a three-day hospital stay, it put into perspective what we were dealing with. I felt like we got dumped on our duffs and told to deal with it. A friend dubbed this kind of outpatient treatment a "drive-by surgery." That is just about what it felt like.

We made it through those first few days, though, thank goodness. David is getting stronger every day, though he cannot stand to be upright very long before his leg gets achy. He was on the heavy pain medication for less than three days, which is pretty remarkable. Now he takes Tylenol and ibuprofen alternately every three hours.

David goes back to see the surgeon on Tuesday to have the staples removed. That is just about enough to make me faint — the idea that David has 40 staples in his knee. I've had to brace up and talk myself out of fainting several times. After a whole lifetime of being squeamish, this is not easy.

David has been in good spirits. Only a few times has he gotten frustrated for not being able to do more, like last night when I was trimming the bushes by the front porch. Last Saturday he was really wanting the lawn to be cut, so I did it. When I looked up, he was grinning from ear-to-ear and he gave me a thumbs up. As I moved around to the various parts of the lawn, I'd look up and there was David, watching every move I made from inside the window wherever I was. When I was done and came inside, I said, "I feel like you mowed the lawn."

David said, "So do I. You did it just about like I do it." I couldn't believe how happy this made him.

David is being philosophical about the accident and realizing that whatever changes need to happen are meant to happen. For one thing, we are feeling like we need our heads examined for having a bathroom only on the second floor, and for having three sets of stairs in our house at our age. Seven years ago, we were still young enough that we were not thinking of this.

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Our roles are being turned upside down and we're having to figure out how to put them back. David used to have his domain and I had mine in our contributions of keeping up with our house and home. Cooking was my domain. As he gets better, I am asking him to help me think about and plan meals, since that is one thing he can do from his computer. This takes effort for him, because he would think so little about food preparation before. And I was taking for granted that he would do so much of the outdoor lawn and garden work.

David had been working long hours for his job before his accident. He had no time to read or recreate. So he is now getting caught up doing much more of that during his long days of having a horizontal perspective. He has also gotten out the German CDs and flashcards that he hasn't touched in several years.

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David has not yet taken up a new hobby, but my guess is something will emerge as time wears on.

So David and I are becoming accustomed to our "new normal" day by day. I give thanks every day that I still have David to share my life with. Given that I still have this daily gift I can become used to a lot — even doing double duty on household chores and having to face things that used to make me faint.

I know one thing — when David gets well and contributes his share of the work, it will take a long while for me to take this for granted again. I'd like to say I never will, but I also know how easy it is to fall back into that.

I find being grateful is the opposite of taking something or someone for granted. What I am learning from this new normal is to remember to count my many blessings and to be grateful for each new day with David. 

32 thoughts on “A New Normal”

  1. Glad David is doing so well. And I understand about the struggle with stairs. We are finally in a duplex with no stairs anywhere not even up to the front door. I am thankful as Jack is facing knee surgery one of these days. I will pray for you guys.

  2. Kristine Lange

    I got queasy just looking at the picture of David coming down the stairs!
    I am glad he is doing well and my thoughts and prayers are with you both.

  3. Hi Saloma, I am glad that David is doing so well after his surgery.

    I had to laugh when you talked about his staples making you woozie. Long story short, several years ago I had my appendix removed and during my consultation with the surgeon I asked him to please not use staples because they grossed me out, I preferred he use the “super glue” to put me back together. He laughed and asked where in the world I had heard about the “super glue” to which I responded “television”. He told me he preferred the old fashioned stitches that dissolve. Somehow even the old fashioned stitches didn’t bother me as much as the thought of staples in my stomach.

  4. Pingback: A New Normal | Former Amish News

  5. This reminds me of a comment a graduation speaker made to a college graduating class: Appreciate your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

    We tend to take our body’s abilities and skills for granted…until they have some trouble. I try to remember to appreciate vision, hearing and speech. And manual dexterity. Among other things. After reading your post, Saloma, I’ve been VERY appreciative of my knees.

    1. Johanna, that is interesting… without vision, hearing, and speech, I don’t know how I’d function. Thank you for a reminder not to take THOSE things for granted. And yes, David is missing his knee a great deal. And mine are having to do a lot more work, running up and down the stairs many times a day, along with all the other work I’ve inherited.

      Wishing you all the best, Johanna.

  6. I’m happy to hear David is doing well. We have had a knee blow-out here too, but not as bad as David’s. I too have had to take on double duty and remembering my blessings every day has really helped me through it all.

  7. Saloma, I can relate to all of this, except it was me with the surgery. February 13,2015 I had surgery on left foot. There was no cartilage going thru bones down to my toes. Surgery was 4 1/2 hours and we went home that day around 4 pm. Wish I could have stayed and felt a little better going home, but, they don’t keep you anymore. First 5 days were rough, no pressure on that foot at all. Now 18 weeks later, I have only been in a shoe for a week and a half. My husband of 47 years, was wonderful during all of this, and it gave him a different view of things. Jokingly he has said he didn’t know laundry, grocery shopping, fixing meals and waiting on someone was so stressful. LOL So, David, I understand the frustration. I had many pity me days, lots of tears and finally doing better. Hang in there. Remember, God never gives you more than you can handle. Saying our prayers for you. See Saloma, you can mow the yard. Best wishes to you both. Pat

    1. Pat, thank you for your encouragement and your own story. I can only imagine being “in your shoes” or David’s for that matter.

      It is good to hear that we get through these things. That is encouragement in itself. And a reminder that we don’t more than we can handle is also good. Thank you.

  8. Maybe a handyman-type should take a look at your place and figure out where (under a stairway, perhaps) you could install at least a partial bathroom. That’s what happened at my in-laws’ place and all they lost was a broom closet. A potty and a tiny sink make life much easier!

    1. Hi Carol. We have always planned to take our back room, which is now a mudroom and make a bathroom and back entryway out of it. It’s really the only space on the first floor that we have available. But so much has to be done to make that a bathroom… it needs to be renovated. Lack of funds has kept us from doing it. This is not the kind of house in which one could just live on one floor.

      You’re right though, that would make life so much easier right now.

  9. Julie Melrose

    So sorry to hear about all of this, Saloma! Maybe, when David feels up to it, you can give him some computer research assignments to even out the work loads.

  10. Sally Schwartz

    So glad David’s surgery went well.Tendon surgeries do require a long healing time .When I cut a nerve and tendon in my thumb I was off work 4 months, so I am not at all surprised he was told 6 months.40 staples is a lot of staples! It mostly pinches when they are removed. And he will feel so much better when they are gone.I suspect it will hurt you more than him…( use to follow patients after hip and knee replacement surgeries -took a lot of staples out over the years.)
    Try to see the funny in the situation where ever you can. That will help you both get thru it. And let go of what you can-the grass will only grow back!.

    1. Sally, thank you for your encouraging thoughts. Yes, 40 staples are a lot. The surgeon was clear that this was a major repair. I think you’re right, having those staples out will be a relief… for him and for me. I will not be around when they are removed… I’ll be in the waiting room with my nose in a book, trying not to think about what is going on. He and the surgeon can look at all the surgery photos they want. The surgeon tried showing me one, and I almost fainted. David wants to see it… ugh!

      I could let go of the grass much more easily if David could. It will have to grow for a while as we get used to our situation.

  11. I am so sorry to hear about David’s accident and am very glad to hear that under the circumstances things are going well. It sound like you both are being very creative with what has come your way.
    Several yrs ago my sister broke her leg and I went to take care of her for a month. She had this great big house but the bathroom was upstairs. There was however a stool and sink downstairs which was a lifesaver. All the inconvenience with her big house made me think about my teeny tiny house and how inconvenient that was. We completely rennovated out back laundry room and now have a very convenient place that we can get a wheelchair in and out and I feel so much better now if something drastic happens we can manage. We had to rennovate the backroom anyhow but after my sister’s breaking her leg, we went about it in a different way.
    I wish you and David the best with his recovery. Keep us posted.
    mary maarsen

    1. Hello Mary. Yes, we are starting to talk about how much it would help to get our back room renovated and a bathroom installed. By converting our dining room into a bedroom, we could conceivably live on one floor for a while. Oh for the lack of money when you need it!

      1. Money really can be a very good reason to be unable to do what a person would like to do. I think for me at least, if I had no other choice I could probably be much more creative with needed space than if I didn’t have a choice. I hope things will work out for you and David as he recovers.

  12. We continue praying for a speedy recovery for David, and strength and good spirits for both of you.
    You both are a wonderful example what it means to stick together for” better and worse”

  13. As we begin to feel the restrictions and limits of age, we enter a new era of appreciation for loving spouses. Having several close male friends younger than me and feeling so deeply for their widows, I find myself reaching for Stuart’s hand and saying, “Thank you, God, for this good man. Help me to love him even more and cherish him into a companionable old age.” I know this gift is not a given.

    Thanks for the picture of David watching you mow. I can see the grin and the thumbs up!

    1. Shirley, that is so true… it is not a given. So we cherish every day that we have together. And it sounds like you do the same.

      Yes, it was worth mowing the lawn to see that grin on his face.

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