This past Tuesday, my orthopedic doctor pronounced my bones healed. All limbs, including the lagging knee, were 100% weight bearing. I was cleared to walk, drive, even ride my horse. In theory, I could throw my crutches off and sprint to the car.
But, of course, there is the fine print, which reads, “as tolerated.” After 8 weeks and three days of being non weight bearing, or partially weight bearing, none of my limbs (except for my right arm, which is super strong), are really up to the task. My first steps were hesitant, awkward and brief. While delighted at the idea of being crutch and walker free, the reality of building up the strength in my atrophied legs, sank in quickly. Physical therapy is going to be a lot of work.
This week I’ve made significant progress toward my goal of walking like a normal person and eventually being able to get back on my horse. I had one dry land PT training session, and three aqua sessions. PT in the pool is a delight. In four feet of water I can walk normally — no limping, no hesitation — and even the “work” seems easier. At least, until I get out of the water and my muscles scream with fatigue. So what if all the other folks water walking in the warm therapy pool are in their 80s, they all think I’m so young I’ll heal in no time. And water jumping jacks? Positively fun.
When out and about, I still use one crutch. Fatigue sets in quickly and I can feel my legs start to shake if I push myself too hard. But around the house, I totter like a drunken sailor or a toddler, none too steady on my feet but determined to keep trying. I go a little farther each day.
How long before I can ride again? Despite making a lot of progress from last week, the idea of climbing onto one of my horses with my unsteady legs, is daunting. They are fresh from the still-winter weather and have had only a few rides in the last eight and a half weeks. At this point, I wouldn’t even feel comfortable leading them into the barn, let alone riding one of them. No, at least for the time being I’m going to stick to the pool and feed them treats over the fence. Maybe then Freedom will decide that I’m not so scary.