My Left Knee – Episode Five

This has been a strange week. Some things have gone very well, much better than I could have expected. But there have also been times of real discouragement that the recovery wasn’t coming along as well as I wanted.

The good news: I continue to have very good range of motion in my knee. The two key measurements are how much I can straighten my leg and how much I can bend it. When I’m lying on the table (or on the bed at home) I’m supposed to tighten the muscles in my thigh and push my knee down as far as it can go. The goal is 0° (a perfectly straight leg), and I’ve been there for a couple of weeks now. Then, still lying on the table, I’m supposed to slide my heel up closer to my hip to see how much I can bend the knee. The last measurement I got was 116° (90° is a right angle, so this is more than that).


A similar, but harder, version has me sitting on the edge of the table and extending my leg or bending my knee. Since I don’t have the table to push against, all the strength has to come from my leg muscles. My statistics are not as good in that version; but apparently I’m still doing better than they had expected.

The other things we’re working on have to do mainly with strength and balance. Those are harder to quantify, but just as important for learning to use my left leg instead of protecting it (as I have been doing for a year or more).  The goals are that I am able to walk without any limp and that I am able to walk up or down stairs in the “normal” way (one foot after the other) instead of taking one step at a time.

In spite of all this progress, I’ve felt somewhat discouraged this week. I think it’s because I didn’t have a realistic understanding just how long the recovery path is. Even with the strong progress I’ve made, the time line is still six months or more. And if I ease up on any of the exercises, it could be even longer. So the challenge now is how to keep my enthusiasm up over a longer time than I had expected.


So I’ll be focusing on a longer time horizon than I originally expected. And I’ll probably try to find some fun short-term rewards to keep me focused in the meantime. More details when I figure it all out.

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Barbara Bruneau

Barbara Bruneau is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She is semi-retired, having previously served congregations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Barbara enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and weaving. She shares her home with cats named Abigail and Bijou.

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