A tale of determination, confidence, and the clankety clank of a walker

What in the world is he doing now? I wondered as I woke up for the second time this morning to the sound of Mark’s walker clanking down the hall to the kitchen.

The first time I woke was at 5:00 a.m. when, with the same vigilance as a new mother’s response to the cries of an infant, I heard the movement of Mark’s walker and opened my eyes to see him sitting on the side of the bed.

“What are you going to do?” I asked.

“I’m going to go sit in the recliner in the great room for a while.”

“Just be careful. You can leave the door open,” I said as he left the room to the clankety clank of his walker. I wanted to save him the trouble of trying to manuever around and close the door behind him, but I also wanted to be able to hear better what he was doing, or if he needed me.

Ever since his appointment with out-patient therapy yesterday, Mark has started pushing his boundaries. Like the therapists in the hospital, his therapist here, whose name is Chris, was pleasantly surprised. “Does he always heal this quickly?” Chris asked me at the end of the session.

Chris told Mark that he is well ahead of schedule on his recovery, and that in fact, he is ahead of where many, if not most, single-knee replacement patients are when they come in for their first visit. We’ve been told all along that double-knee recipients lag behind in recovery. And at first in the hospital I believed it when I saw the single-knee patients trotting down the halls. I even wondered, was this a mistake?

All of this praise from the therapists feeds Mark’s ego, I’m sure, but it also feeds his determination and lack of patience I’m afraid. When Mark left the hospital his occupational therapist looked him in the eyes and said, “I want you to hear what I’m saying. You’re the type of person who comes back to the hospital. I don’t want to see you back here.”

So I listened this morning until I heard the cessation of the walker’s clankety clank followed by the squeak and click of the recliner foot rest locking into place. Then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

When I woke up the second time about an hour later to the sound of Mark and his walker moving down the hallway to the kitchen, I wondered, what is he going to try to do now? I heard the refrigerator door open. I heard the microwave door open and close and buttons being pushed. I got up and walked to the kitchen.

Mark was on his way to the refrigerator holding an empty glass in one of his hands while also holding onto the walker. “How are you going to carry that when its full?” I asked. He told me he didn’t want to wake me up.

Some of these tasks would be easier if he would have kept the basket I bought for him on his walker, but initially he didn’t like it, didn’t want it, so I took it back off. Yesterday he started carrying things like his book in his hand along with the walker.

“Why don’t you go ahead and sit down,” I said, “and I’ll take it from here.” He had an English muffin in the toaster, a stick of butter in the microwave to soften, and of course the empty glass for milk. I got him set up with his food and drink and went back to bed.

“Clankety clank,” back down the hall he came a little while later. I opened my eyes and saw him carrying his walker a few inches off the ground as he walked into our room to the bed. He was trying to be quiet.

I always knew Mark had great determination when he set his mind to something. But this surgery has provided an opportunity to display some of his finer human traits in a very visible and measurable way.

See what I’ve been up against all these years?

Now in his own defense, yesterday Chris told Mark to look for a cane and bring it back on Friday for his next appointment. So the days of the walker are numbered. He also can put the braces away; he doesn’t need to wear them at night anymore. Here’s the best news; Chris also told him he can cut back on his time in the CPM machine 50%. That means only a total of 6 hours a day instead of 12. GREAT news.

Finally, echoing the hospital O.T., Chris told him, “Don’t get over confident.”

Lord, help us all.


You can find links to the entire series on Bilateral knee replacement surgery here.