I expected to be writing about how independent I feel at seven weeks out – driving, able to stand and walk enough to do chores around the house, adding more strength and agility exercises to my physical therapy.
But the reality is that I’m not driving because I still need the high-powered pain meds, that I can only stand for a few minutes at a time, that I lean heavily on a cane to walk (and still use a walker a lot), that my physical therapist is very gradually adding tiny steps of more strength exercises and one agility exercise to my workout.
You’d think that by now, after a cancer journey and living into my late 50s, I’d know not to have expectations!
I know, intellectually, that expectations set me up for disappointment. But it seems I can’t avoid thinking that I should be off pain meds and driving now, that I should be standing and walking and doing chores and getting around with a cane that I only use for balance, that I should be doing all kinds of exercises that make my legs stronger every day.
Expectations and shoulds. I need to let go of both of them!
The reality now is that I still have lots of pain in my left knee, mostly when the weather is rainy and humid.
The reality is that I can’t wean myself of the high-powered pain meds now.
The reality is that I still need lots of help.
I need folks to drive me to physical therapy and doctor appointments. I need folks to help around the house. I need folks to go to the grocery store for me and to get the mail for me.
Being needy doesn’t feel good to me.
But you know what? My friends have come through and helped me with all of the activities I can’t do for myself. And they’ve brought many meals.
I’ve discovered that I prefer being the help-er to being the help-ee.
But there’s probably more soul expansion in being the help-ee.
Being the receiver takes away the illusion that I am in control, that I can chart my own course, that I am in charge.
Being the receiver lets me see the goodness, the kindness of others.
Being the receiver is much more the role of a child of God.
We are all ultimately receivers – of unearned grace and love. All of our doing can’t earn us one iota more of God’s love than what we have at every moment of every day.
I prefer the doing, though, the strength and the control.
It’s because even though I know that love surrounds me at all times and in all places, I still doubt.
That’s part of being human. Doubting, expecting to have to earn love, expecting tit for tat.
I’m right now being shown the other way. The way that doesn’t keep count, that gives freely. I see that in all of the people who are helping me.
There are many. Friends from various places and times of my life, including former students who still keep up with their old English teacher and want to help with a meal or running an errand or giving a ride.
Such kindness is humbling.
Because I know I did nothing to deserve it.
Feeling I should deserve something is just another expectation, isn’t it?
This double knee replacement journey is bringing me more opportunities to let go of expectations, to ask for help, and to accept kindnesses.
My healing is not going at the pace I want, but it is going at the pace I need.
It’s helping me to ask for help, to realize I’m not alone, to see that people are loving and kind.
It’s a Gospel message just for me.
Here I am at Week 7, still hurting, not driving, walking only a very short time or distance. Yes, I have too many times when I am very frustrated. But I have many more times when I can know that I am the recipient of true grace and love.
So, ultimately, I have to be much more grateful than frustrated.
No, I’m not progressing as quickly as I’d like.
But I am progressing.
And I am the beneficiary of lots of help, of love and grace from so many people.
Yes, I grouse and feel sorry for myself sometimes. That doesn’t last very long, though, because someone is helping me within a few hours.
I certainly can’t grouse about that!
So here I am at Week 7, using a cane or walker, having a good bit of pain when standing or walking, improving a tiny bit most days, not able to drive yet, and also being well taken care of by many friends.
I’m learning to let go and trust – more and more.