29 December 2006

It's getting to be a tradition, no?

I will write an update, because I've just been to the doctor, and I'm sure you, my loyal readers, would like to know what happened at the doctor's office.

First of all, I think I drove the doctor nuts. My mom accuses me of being a worry-wart, but if you ask me, informing the doctor (in a calm, matter-of-fact manner) that the area around my incision is completely numb and that my ankle is perpetually swollen and that I can't see or feel my patellar tendon does not constitute obsessive worrying. (Ok, maybe the part about the patellar tendon is a tiny bit obsessive.) I just wanted to make sure he knew what all of my symptoms were, in case there is something wrong. Apparently the doctor is not used to his patients doing this. Or maybe he was just in a hurry.

Second, since I never said (and people have been asking), my ticket back to Russia is for January 22. I don't know if I'll actually be going then, because of bureaucracy (Russian, not US) and a lack of a place to stay in Moscow, but I'll be there for our mid-year review at the end of January for sure. (Thank you, STA Travel easy-to-change tickets.)

As promised at the last doctor's appointment, I got a new brace at this appointment. The most exciting feature of this brace, besides the fact that it's fashioned of sleek, stylish black neoprene (ooooh), is that it allows me to bend my knee. In fact, I now have permission to bend my knee anytime, anywhere, as often as I want. I'm also allowed to put up to half of my weight on the bad leg. The doctor acknowledged that extensive bending and such probably won't happen for up to a week, because there's a pyschological barrier (i.e. a healthy fear of pain and reinjury) that I'll have to get over first. He then proved this to me by challenging me to lift my leg up off the exam table. I couldn't do it. He called me a wimp.

Now, telling someone that their head is the only thing keeping them from moving their leg around seems to me to basically be a challenge for that person to prove their "inner strength." Or maybe I'm the only one who automatically thinks, "Psychological barrier? Pshaw. I'm not going to let any stupid psychological barriers stop me. I can bend my leg right now." But I'm guessing I'm not. Maybe this is the reaction the doctor is going for, since I suppose it could increase the drive to use the leg, but it seems to me that it could also set the patient up for feeling like a failure when, try as she might, she just can't bring herself to bend her knee. Is that really a good idea? Because from where I'm standing (ha), it looks like the only thing worse than the demeaning experience of being pushed around in a wheelchair like an invalid is the feeling that you're not healing as fast as you should be.

I don't know. I'm going to do my best not to let it get to me (in the event that I actually do have trouble with this "psychological barrier"). I guess I've been thinking a lot about patient psychology lately, though. I had read stuff before about how psychologically hard it can be to be a patient, to allow people to treat you like you need help and to cope with people who treat you like you can't do anything for yourself. I didn't really get it; after all, any rational person can see that there's no shame in having something wrong with your body that needs to get fixed. Well, now I do get it. It is hard. It's easy to feel like everything is an affront to your dignity; after the first few weeks, you stop wanting the sympathy of strangers. You get this urge to say to the people who look at you in your wheelchair, "Hey, this is temporary. I don't usually look like this. I can walk just like you." Which is horrible, because of course there's nothing wrong with being handicapped. Unless it's me that's handicapped.

Right. So, anyway, I can bend my leg now, and I have bent it a little, but it feels... weird. And the only other thing that happened at the doctor's office was that I learned that my crutches will be going back to Russia with me. Whatever. As long as it's not a wheelchair.

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