Until this week, I’ve taken for granted the ability to sleep through the night. Home from the hospital with a newly installed knee, an army of pain meds, and enough physical therapy exercises to fill a three-ring binder, I was ready to tackle this. My first knee replacement was four years ago. “Been there, done that” was my mantra. I was ready.
Everything went as planned. Both the surgery and the immediate recovery were uneventful. I was dangerously close to smug about how the pre- and post-surgery exercises I so diligently followed were making recovery as easy as anyone in the American Academic of Orthopaedic surgeons could have hoped. You’d think I’d have learned by now...pride goeth before a fall. Well, not exactly a fall; I’d not be writing this if I’d truly tumbled. But that crash you may have heard a few nights ago was my ego bumping into a wall of reality. A combination of muscle cramps, stiffness and chills kept me on a two hours down/one hour up schedule similar to that of a newborn’s mother. So, just like that new mom, I answered the call of my screaming baby knee. I gingerly eased my legs onto the cold floor. Locate robe; wrap shivering self tightly; find walker; and trudge from living room to kitchen to family room to kitchen to hall to living room. Fragments of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made for Walkin’” rattled around the chambers of my drug-muddled mind. The rooms, eerie in the light of March’s full moon, took on weird and different personalities. And I started to think (a preferable activity to singing Nancy’s belligerent song) about rooms in general. Rooms have long been used in western literature as symbols of the self, the womb, one’s unconscious, journeys, passages. Do an internet search for ‘dream symbolism' and you’ll find a lot to read. In my life, though, a room has always meant a safe place from which to explore the uncertain via literature, drawing, dreaming, as well as a safe place in which to hide when literature, drawing, or dreams took me where I didn’t want to be. Now it’s rooms that are providing me a safe haven for my night-time walks. If I didn’t know these rooms so well, I’d be leery of hitting something a lot more substantial than that previously mentioned wall of reality. I’m lucky to have always had safe rooms of my own. It’s a wish I would grant to everyone.