Posted by: Patrice Fitzgerald | January 28, 2009


Two days ago, I had arthroscopic surgery on my knee.  They gave me pretty strong medicine for the pain, and I was glad to have it. The first night after the surgery was awful — I couldn’t roll over easily, and I chafed at being forced to sleep in the same position all night long.  It hurt to move, and it hurt not to move, and it hurt in every position.  

I had gone through what seemed to be the identical procedure a year ago — different doctor, different part of the state.  But this time it seemed to hurt so much worse!  Did it really, though?  Or is it just that pain is of the moment — you may know you went through it, but your memory doesn’t hold onto the visceral hurt.  You don’t really remember what it felt like.

I have given birth to two children.  The first was a C-section, while the second came into the world the old-fashioned way.  Both methods hurt — a lot — but of course it was unquestionably worth it.  There’s no bigger incentive than a healthy baby to make going through pain worth it.  With the C-section the pain was all in the healing afterward.  With the vaginal birth, I got the pain over with up front.  I recommend the latter, given a choice.  I only really felt the pain of full labor with my second daughter — and they say that you get a big dose of “forgetful” hormones that help you let that memory go.  Otherwise, you might not let the baby daddy near you again for years!

With my knee, I certainly hope that I’ll feel it was worthwhile in the end.  But I don’t get the reward that childbirth provides.

It’s humbling.  It brings back layers of emotion — last year’s operation, which I had between operas, and just after flying out to Colorado to see my Dad for the last time, about 3 weeks before he died.  It reminds me of Dad in a walker, Dad with a cane.  Dad in a wheelchair, Dad on his “Red Racer” scooter.  It reminds me of nursing homes, and death, and old age.  Slowing down, and giving up.  It reminds me of the inevitable future.

Today, it feels much better.  I slept a lot better, and as the night went on, I was so grateful that I could roll over without experiencing exquisite agony.  I felt pretty wonderful, in comparison to the night before.

And now I can walk again.  I’m still lurching, and leaning to one side, and putting my hands on the chairs as I walk by for support.  But the excruciating pain of yesterday is gone and in response I feel thrilled and happy.

Maybe that’s the upside of pain…?  The joy of getting our bodies back, whole and healthy.

I am so lucky to feel good again.


  1. You know what they say about getting hit on the head with a hammer… it feels so good when you stop.

    You are getting better and better already. That’s the wonder of it. We are still young(ish), remember that! Because if you aren’t young, I certain amn’t!! And just for the record, I am a much, much bigger baby about pain!

    (the goofy cyclops)

  2. Thank you for taking such good care of me.

    And I thought that symbol was a rose, not a goofy cyclops!

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