Three months ago today I had knee surgery in Hong Kong. A couple of friends from the US happened to be in town that day and accompanied me to the hospital. Both of them have had more than their fair share of surgical procedures so they had lots of advice and encouragement for me.
There's one bit of advice they gave that I've taken to heart every single day these past three months. "Keep your eyes on the rear-view mirror," they said. "You have to focus on the things you couldn't do yesterday or last week, and NOT on the things that you still can't do. That's the only way to see your progress and stay motivated to keep moving forward."
Today I took a longer look at that rear-view mirror, and these are some of the key things that I see — events and experiences and milestones that are all (fortunately) behind me now:
- The pain of the first few days after surgery.
- The crazy trip from Hong Kong to Beijing only 60 hours after surgery. Taxi, wheelchair, plane, wheelchair, taxi.
- Pain meds that slowed my brain processing down to that of an old 386 computer.
- Having to give myself injections to prevent clotting.
- Crutches, crutches, always and everywhere crutches.
- The excitement of my first steps with just one crutch, and soon after, no crutches around my apartment.
- Relying on friends for everything.
- Treks across town in the back of taxis for my physical therapy sessions.
- Being pushed through Beijing, Tokyo, and Minneapolis airports in a wheelchair.
- Walking on the snow and ice in Minnesota with crutches.
- Physical therapy sessions that left me in tears as he pushed my knee to bend to 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, and finally to 140 degrees. (Thanks Scott!)
- The excitement of making the pedal do a full revolution on the exercise bike!
- Driving for the first time. (I could do this when I could slam on the brakes).
- Leaving the crutches behind at my mom's place when I returned to China.
Full recovery is a marathon, and I still have part of the journey ahead of me. But tonight I'm grateful as I take some time to look in the rear-view mirror.
Thanks, JJ, for the advice!
In case you're new to this blog, you can catch up by reading the following:
Ten Things I Learned in School This Week