After undergoing a surgical procedure — and having been through enough of them in recent years to expect what was coming — the physician tells you to take it easy and limit whatever physical activity you may engage in for at least a week. Longer, depending on the extent of the surgery.
Sound advice all around, especially if the procedure was delicate. A corneal transplant on my left eye three years ago required that once back home, I was to lay flat on my back for three days, for what you can imagine were necessary reasons, before I could start perambulating around the house again.
I was also told to not lift anything weighing more than 10 pounds, refrain from bending down or perform physical tasks — you know, like digging a garden or staging a dance party — that would impede the healing process. The procedure I had performed on me March 20 resulted in some of the same requirements placed on me until the surgeon was satisfied the affected area had properly healed.
All well and good, but when you’ve become so used to getting household chores accomplished with some ease of movement, conforming to the new rules even for the brief time they’re leveled on you can be frustrating. Especially when such duties, such as dish washing, laundry, taking out the trash, etc., are your contribution to domestic bliss. All demand some lifting, carrying and storing, which my wife goes beyond the call of duty in helping out, in addition to her other daily caregiver activities. So the tasks reach the completion stage, even as you’re doing your best to follow the doctor’s orders in that time period that lasts until the next appointment.
When it comes to lowering yourself to reach things that have fallen on the floor, past experience has told me that squatting is acceptable. Since I’m still limber enough to do so, that’s what you’ll see me doing. Except when I completely forget myself and bend straight over from waist level. Fortunately, I’ve never done it sufficiently to damage the surgeon’s work, and experts will tell you if you don’t bend your upper body to where the heart is below the waistband, you’ll be okay. Or something like that.
But as my wife points out, the surgery begins to correct itself sooner than expected and you’ll have the ability to move around. And many things are on the no-lifting-more-than-10 pounds (or a gallon of milk) list, so there is some good you can do before you get the medical okay to resume your previous activities.
Among them, I sheepishly learned, was instead of hoisting and then leveling down the water jug for our dogs, I could have put the water into some of the former whipped topping bowls that I make a habit of cleaning when they’re empty for use as storage (and yes, they are handy, like takeout soup bowls from China One). That piece of advice proved to be a signal to get back on the stick again. The pity train had left the depot and was headed for parts unknown on the old Hocking Valley line.
By the time you read this, I may know more about what I can and cannot do, more likely a return to a regular schedule. And that’s just fine with me. There is always a sense of accomplishment in doing things, including drafting this column after a two-week break. I’m reminded that during his final illness, my father was constrained from following his routine and nothing worse could have followed. He was a man who enjoyed what he did, from building a nativity scene for Christmas to his crossword puzzle, and being robbed of such pleasures in life due to his physical condition tolled heavily on him.
And how do I feel after the surgery? Okay for the most part, although sometimes I find myself empathizing with The Mole, one of Dick Tracy’s bizarre comic strip villains who finds solace in the gloom of his subterranean tunnels. “My eyes feel better and I can think,” The Mole confides to an associate in an episode of the early 1950s TV version of the Tracy saga. Well, I don’t embrace total darkness, but a little shading sure helps.
Kevin Kelly, who was associated with Ohio Valley Publishing for 21 years, resides in Vinton, Ohio.