Week twelve post-surgery is a milestone, normally. Week twelve is when all the movement restrictions are lifted, when life can look that little bit more normal, like being able to put washing into the front loader. But for me, those movement restrictions were not lifted, it felt like a milestone I never reached. Instead, week twelve was when I started another six weeks of outpatient rehab work back at Calvary Rehabilitation Hospital. The plan was to continue hydrotherapy at Calvary, while transitioning to a full Pilates program at Flex Rehabilitation Centre; a lot to keep balancing with a full-time lecture and admin load.
Walking into Calvary Rehab on the Tuesday afternoon after a week of no rehab, the surgeon’s words were still going around my mind from the previous week, ‘It’s going to take a long time’. Mentally I was prepared to dig in again. The hard work begins now, pushing through the leg weakness and muscle spasms. I had completely forgot though that the Physio I had been working with previously was now on annual leave. I would be working with a new Physio for this second round of outpatient rehab work. Meeting the new Physio, I knew I was in good hands, but that first session was really about her getting to know what a program might look like for the next six weeks. By the Thursday afternoon session, the Physio had decided – half a session doing exercises on the physio bed and the other half on the Pilates Reformer. Bed exercises was really a step back; I should have progressed past bed exercises by week twelve. But I knew this step backwards was necessary, for now. I still couldn’t lift my legs up, one at a time, from the bed when they are straight.
I was looking forward though to my exercise program in the hydro pool. The physio I work with in the pool had been away over the past couple of weeks and hadn’t seen me since I experienced the sudden leg weakness again. I was walking towards the pool when the Physio looked at me, a puzzled look on her face, and questioned me, ‘Has your left foot dropped?’ No, my left foot had not dropped (thankfully!), but I had certainly lost a lot of the control I had gained. The physio was quite shocked, took me aside to find out what happened, and then she simplified my program. I had taken a step back in the pool as well. Any hope that I had of moving to a more advanced program for the next six weeks was gone. I guess the saying, ‘you have to learn how to crawl before you walk’, is true; but in my case, I still needed to master the basics of walking, squats, and step ups. The surgeon was right; it’s going to be a very long road.