A month ago, I had a total knee replacement. In preparation, I spent months exercising my physical body, I spent hours mentally preparing by walking my mind through the process as I saw it and I prepared my emotional self by imagining all the things I was going to be able to do again with my new knee and tapping into those feelings. I was also meditating like a champ. My healing vibe was high as could be. It was still incredibly hard to go through but I knew I could do it.
This blog will touch on how our perception of our personal responsibilities, compassion and self-talk have an enormous affect on our future, our possibilities and our outcomes.
What we perceive is what we believe.
Lessons in Perception
In the first two days that I left my home after the operation, I was stopped by 3 women within 24 hours, who have all had a knee replacement and whom all had very different perceptions about their experiences. These are the brief descriptions of our encounters and how their perceptions impacted me.
I was leaving one of my first therapy sessions and a woman in her mid-70s bounced up the stairs, took one look at me and asked "Total Knee Replacement?". I nodded yes (at this point I was in a lot of pain and trying not to barf so talking a lot was not an option). The woman showed me 2 very clean and healthy scars on both of her knees and she explained that they were done within the last year. When asked, I told the woman it had only been 11 days and she said "You are doing great - keep it up!". She told me she had come from playing golf, was going swimming and getting these surgeries were the best decision she ever made. With a great big smile she said "It gave me my life back."
This woman became my inspiration and I would remember her enthusiasm when rehab got hard. I sent her light, love and compassion for being an inspiration and for the gift of hope that she gave me.
On that very same day, my friend and ride suggested we go out for lunch. When we were leaving the restaurant, I started towards the door slowly while my friend paid her bill.
On my approach to the door, another older woman in her mid-70s walked in. As I got closer, this woman asked me if I had a total knee replacement as she recognized my compression stockings. Before I could answer, she started shouting that she also had this done and it was the worst experience and it ruined her life. I was quite taken back and honestly only heard part of what she was yelling at me but do remember her saying "I can't walk". This shocked me. But she could walk. She just did. She walked through the door with no limp, no assistive device, no help. Clearly there was more to the story and I was not trying to judge, but understand. What I did know was she did not have a good experience. I decided to leave the foyer and walk to the car instead of staying in that negative space.
This woman was upset about her experience and she perceived an injustice had happened to her. I felt for her. It can be very hard to carry the burden of feeling betrayed by the medical system or intentionally injured. I sent this woman love, light and compassion so she could love herself again and try to move forward if that is what she needed.
What you perceive is what you believe.
Perception of Being a Victim
The next morning, I was at the hospital on my way to get my bandage removed and walked past a woman about 20 years older than me using a walker and wearing the same stockings. She and her husband stopped me to ask if I had just had a total knee replacement a couple of weeks ago. I said that I did. Her husband asked if I was doing the exercises and when did I start them? I said that I had been doing the exercises and started the following day when I woke up. At this point, her husband started to tell me that it wasn't her fault that she didn't do the exercises. He said that she was 'pretty messed up' immediately after surgery and couldn't remember them. I agreed that I was 'pretty messed up' too after the initial surgery but that all the medical staff involved in this process stress 2 very important things: Pain management and exercise. This is discussed numerous times like at the 3 hour pre-op physiotherapists meeting, then right before surgery and again after. You are given the exercises on a sheet after they review them with you and there is also a number in the package they send you home with which you can contact Physio and get clarification or assistance. The husband kept talking about how it was too hard, how she didn't know what to do and it's not her fault that she is behind in her recovery because she hasn't been putting in the work.
I stood there, stubbornly refusing to concede that life was somehow more unfair for her and she had been handed a raw deal. Honestly, I was feeling a little triggered. I just went through the exact same surgery and couldn't understand why she felt that someone else should have made it easier on her. This was one of the hardest things that I have gone through and the exercises hurt - A LOT - every single time that I did them, but I did them. It wasn't up to anyone else to do them for me. The doctors and nurses do their part and then you do yours. It is YOUR body after all. So I sent her light, love and compassion so she could find what she needed to recover.
Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change." - Wayne W. Dyer
Perception is Everything
What you perceive is what you believe and this can have a very large impact on your life. But it all comes down to choice.
You can be the one who is grateful for overcoming something with hard work and enthusiasm. You can choose to take a negative situation and let it define you or you can choose to find the lesson and overcome the obstacle. You can decide to blame others when it gets too hard. Or you can put your big girl pants on and get involved in your own life! Be the one to show how strong you are inside and out! Be the inspiration for others, if not yourself, and prove that hard work, perseverance, and believing in yourself will get you through whatever comes your way.
What I have learned from this surgery:
1) Asking for help does not make you weak.
2)Taking time for yourself does not make you selfish.
3) Putting in the work that only you can do, makes you strong.
Know that you are worth it and you can change your perception to create possibilities in life rather than limitations.
I am grateful for the kindness and expertise of my surgeon and medical team. I am grateful for their advice and explanations about what I was about to endure so that I was fully prepared. I am grateful for their experience and guidance that has helped me to heal quickly.
I hope that this helps someone out there understand that your attitude will influence your life experiences, but only you can choose what kind of attitude you will encompass.
I hope it is of love, light and compassion.