Exertion or relaxation?

The hip replacement surgery went well allowing me to go home the following day. After initial physical therapy orientation, the surgeon did not prescribe further therapy but encouraged me to walk to speed recovery.

So walk I did, pushing each day to go a little further but becoming no stronger. A trip to New York City four weeks post op was exciting but also tortuous as I encountered entry-way staircases with no bannisters, multiple flights to and from the subway surrounded by rushed mobs, and, of course, lots of walking on crowded, uneven sidewalks. (One does not see people in wheelchairs in Manhattan.) Without a cane, I would collapse. Without my husband I would have been stranded.

When hearing the tales of adventures in NYC, the doctor’s response at my six-week follow-up was a droll, “That was probably too much.” Huh? Didn’t you tell me to walk? Baffled, he sent me home with instructions to call him if there was no improvement in another six weeks.

Frustrated, I spent the day in my recliner pouting and watching HGTV. When my bladder nudged me several hours later, I reluctantly rose and, surprise, could walk with minimal difficulty. Has anyone else noticed that the aging body requires more time between exertions to recover? The clue should have been that I started each morning well, but quickly deteriorated as I was on my feet.  What was the surgeon thinking when he told me to walk?

Two plus years later, following partial knee replacement, I am heeding the lessons from my hip replacement. Times of exertion are followed by periods of recovery while I assess if my status is moving forward or backward. Daily stretching via yoga and wall exercises has proven most helpful with application of ice soothing. I can’t yet do a full day’s housework, but I don’t want to anyway. The heat and pandemic encourage a sedentary life making it easy to alternate exertion and relaxation. I see slow progress, but it is forward movement. When the world opens up following a vaccine, I want to be ready to go!

Author: Mary Cornelius

I am an aging woman who writes three blogs.