Promise And Possibility

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Doing simple knee exercises in the kitchen.

Doing simple knee exercises in the kitchen.

It’s mid-January in a brand-spanking new year and oh my, I smell promise and possibility in the air. The aroma of pine left over from the holidays is gone. In it’s place is a freshness I haven’t been aware of since Bill started having knee problems eleven months ago when he was rehearsing for a role in a local production of the Fantastiks. Because of his pain he had to give up his role at the very last minute. Needless to say it was a big disappointment for my Sweet William, and 2015 became The Year of the Knee filled with frequent long waits in doctor’s offices with little to show for it.

After a week at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, last August, it became undeniably apparent that the knee would need to be replaced. At seventy-five years of age, Bill had never been in a hospital except to be born and as a tiny kid to have his tonsils out. So for him, spending time in a hospital and being cut open was a frightening prospect. October and November found us checking out two surgeons who came highly recommended, one at UVA Medical Center and the other at our new, private, award-winning hospital, named for Thomas Jefferson’s wife, Martha.

We made appointments with both doctors and saw the one at UVA first. Even though Bill really wanted to go with Dr. Swanson at Martha Jefferson, he signed up for a December first surgery date at UVA because the pain was getting worse and interfering with his ability to be completely involved in his life. We also knew that getting a surgery date in the near future with Dr. Swanson would be difficult because of her sterling reputation.

But in early November we saw Dr. Swanson and even though the earliest surgery date she could give Bill was in late January, there was no question as to who would do the surgery. Dr. Swanson, is known for her success with replacing knees and how quickly her patients get back to living life to the fullest. Because she doesn’t cut any muscle, and the knee replacement parts are custom made for each person, there is less time spent in the OR than there would have been had he gone to UVA. As the holidays approached and Bill was having more difficulty than ever moving around, and Dr. Swanson’s team called with a new date: January 4th.

We arrived at the hospital at 7 AM on that given day. In the OR at 10 AM, Bill was awake and in his room by 1:30 PM. Bill was smiling and relieved when I found him in his room. That afternoon he walked to the bathroom with the aid of a walker and nurse. The next day, he took a good walk down the hall, before participating in an hour-and-a-half long physical therapy session. He did all of that again in the afternoon and afterwards was told he could go home. Exhausted, he decided to wait until the following day, and after repeating the same two PT classes came home to his own bed the next afternoon.

A visiting nurse came once a day for three days to check his wound and a physical therapist came for seven days to keep him moving. Last Wednesday when that service ended he went out for physical therapy and greatly impressed the therapist, with whom he’d checked in before surgery. He’ll be doing that twice a week for several more weeks. At home he’s moving about the house with a cane, but still uses his walker when he goes out. The therapist said that he’s doing great and that maybe he’d be driving sooner rather than later. Watch out world. This guy has been down for almost a year. The places he will go!

I’m doing well, and happy to be getting back into a routine in my studio. PTSD comes back to haunt me now and again when I’m stressed and this occasion was no exception. Memories of my mother’s hospital visits and her behavior colored my thinking. But now at least I know what is happening and know what I have to do in order to stay on the bright side of things.

I’m back to posting my usual Tuesday morning blogs again, along with a newsletter on February first. The book is in good hands. I’ve selected the cover and will reveal it later when everything is completely certain. I plan on revamping my website and finishing the filing of extraneous papers that are still sitting around in various piles around the studio.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the very early blooming of the beautiful hellebores in myIMG_0094 garden and taking walks in the neighborhood earlier in the morning as the days lengthen. My sympathetic knee pain is gone and with Bill being a Super Hero and doing most things for himself again, I returned to pilates and yoga classes this week. I also had a massage.

Even with all the cold and possible snow later in the week, Spring is on its way. The best is yet to come!


  1. Joan, So happy Bill ( and you) sailed through his knee surgery so smoothly though I’m sure the road to the surgery was not as smooth. I think it’s a gift to be able reframe all the disruptions and disappointments with a positive spin, as you have done here. In the depth of winter (we’re in a deep freeze up North), the hope of Spring is most refreshing. Welcome back, my friend. Yes, the best is yet to come!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks so much, Kathy. There are bound to be a few setbacks as he does more and more, perhaps a little to fast. But I think that is to be expected and still part of the slowing down lesson we’ve both been taking part in. We both tend to think we’re still in our thirties!

  2. Joan, I sense such deep relief and an infusion of new energy in both of your lives. Wonderful!

    If I ever need a knee replacement, I know who I want to be my surgeon!

    Eager to see your book as you reveal its features one by one.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Shirley. Their is much relief and lots of new energy for both of us. To think we’ve been at this for a year blows my mind and we’re happy to be starting on a new road.

      I’m excited about the book and somedays it’s hard to believe that it is going to be published.

  3. Joan — Yippie ki-yaaaaaaaaay, that’s fantastic news! And you’re right, spring brings promise and possibility, a never-failing one-two punch!

    On one of yesterday’s walks we saw the ittiest bittiest, greenish/red buds on the ends of branches. We’re on the brink of a beautiful botanical explosion.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Laurie, Greenish/red buds already? I thought you lived in Idaho, not Florida. We’ve suddenly been thrown into very cold, sunny days with a snow storm promised for Friday. Everything that looked like it would burst into bloom tomorrow is now wilting from the icy winds

  4. Joan, I’m so glad you shared this journey with us. The year of The Knee, indeed. But at our age, how they do fly by. It’s good to see Bill upright there at your kitchen counter, sans cane. I’m remembering Nietzsche’s “that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” The two of you are a force to contend with. Go get ’em.

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks for you kind words, Janet. It hasn’t all been as easy as it sounds, but compared to what it could have been, Bill calls it, “A piece of cake.” The physical therapist overworked him on Monday and he’s limping around again, but it’s beginning to feel better again.

      You’re right about how the time whizzes by. I’m having a bit of difficulty with that. There isn’t enough time to do everything I need to do and as I age it takes me longer to do things.

  5. I’m so glad the new year has started off on such a positive note! Bills progress is terrific. Looks like 2016 will be the year of adventures

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Val. I do think it will be a good year. I hope it will be a good one for you too!