I’m waiting for Steve Lorenzen to come through the door and brighten my day. He is my physical therapist who keeps me going.
We met twenty years ago when he helped me come back from knee joint replacement, and I wrote about him and my recovery in several columns.
In the years leading up to my eightieth birthday, my gimpy knee had gotten gimpier. I had to give up many activities, including square dancing. Robert and I really enjoyed the fun of joining with old and new friends in that cheerful recreation. But one night I turned sharply and my right knee yelled at me that it could no longer do that.
X-rays determined that the bones of my knee no longer had padding between them where padding should have been. Surgery was scheduled.
That week, my column appeared under the byline of my grandson Nicholas Birkby. He was only three years old at the time, so I suspect my sons had a hand in writing the report in his name.
Nick explained that he had no trouble with his knees, but they were so new they were still under warranty. "I don’t use them all the time, either," Nick wrote. "Sometimes I just slide down the stairs on the seat of my pants."
Nick summed up the trouble with my knee as the ball bearings were worn out and the shock absorbers had absorbed all the shock they could handle. He said that I had gone to Methodist Hospital in Omaha where I picked out a bright, shiny new knee.
"Everything went well, and she rested at the hospital for a few days," Nick reported. "Then Grandpa Robert brought her back to Sidney, stopping along the way for a milk shake."
When I arrived home from my knee surgery, I discovered many simple tasks I could no longer perform. Orthopedic surgery also brings with it a need for rigorous physical therapy.
One of the nurses from the Southwest Iowa Home Health Care program came to visit me. She talked about my needs and told me she would be checking up on me twice a week. Others from the office came by to see how the house could be made more convenient for me to get around. They made it possible for me to obtain a gadget to help me put on my socks, a seat to go across the bathtub, and a shower sprayer that fastened to the tub faucet.
They also arranged to have physical therapist Steve Lorenzen help me with my recovery. I had heard of Steve’s good work from several of my friends who have had his assistance. When he was assigned to getting my knee back in shape, I was pleased.
Steve did tell me that first day that I might not be pleased for long, that it was going to take a lot of work on my part and at times it could be painful. The healing muscles had to be stretched back into place and scar tissue had to be kept at a minimum.
Every day Steve came and we stretched, pushed, pulled, walked, and did toe rises and knee bends. Each time I reached a new plateau, Steve would give me something harder to do.
The assistance of these fine people was a great comfort to me. Just to know that someone would be coming who knew exactly what I needed, who knew how to do the tasks properly, and who encouraged me daily to do more, kept the healing process going.
I’ve stayed in touch with Steve over the years. Recently he has been helping me with physical therapy again. I want to make it to age 100, and being strong and mobile is important for that. Steve has exercises that keep my legs moving. He still says he has his whip out and pushes me to exercise harder than I think I can.
We also share stories of our families. I tell him about my sons and my grandchildren Nick and Amanda. He has stories about a recent trip to Scotland where his daughter married a young man from Edinburgh.
Just as I felt twenty years ago, I am so grateful for the talented, caring people who assist me in getting through each day. Thank you all.
At the end of his column about my surgery, my grandson Nicholas gave a special recipe. Here it is:
Nicholas Birkby’s Knee Replacement Celebration Cookies
Help your grandmother get together the cookie ingredients of flour, sugar, butter, cheese, raisins, etc.
Stand on a chair so you can see over the counter.
Pour everything together in a large bowl and all over yourself and the rest of the kitchen.
Stir ingredients together. For best results, use a large spoon and your toy backhoe.
Eat some of the dough. This is when cookies taste best. Put some dough in your pockets for later.
Bake the cookies and store them in a jar.
Put the cookie jar on a shelf where children like me can always reach them – no higher than, say, knee-high.