Neither Use Nor Ornament

A slightly different post to the usual, but indulge me if you will.  I’ve always had ‘dodgy’ knees… for as long back as I can remember.  I can take the concept IMG_3481of a “hurty knee” to a whole new level – and recently even exceeded my own expectations of just how bad my knee could be when I underwent a kneecap resurfacing procedure – or partial kneecap replacement – or if you prefer, stage 1 of becoming bionic.

I’m at the end of week 4 post-surgery now and don’t know how I would have managed without my friends and family around me to provide support.  The top left picture shows my scar in it’s current state and I happen to think it’s come out fairly neatly!  A bonus of this procedure was that the hideous scar from my previous surgery was cut out and made to look significantly neater!

A history of hyper-mobility, clumsiness and injuries have resulted in the need for this surgery – the 2nd “big op” on this knee (my previous one replaced the rubbish and useless tendons & ligaments in my knee – for knee nerds it was an MPF Ligament Reconstruction) – and I now have a part-plastic, part chrome plated knee.

I knew that the surgery would be tough.  I knew it would be painful and that recovery would take time and I had mentally prepared myself for that.  What I hadn’t mentally prepared for was how useless I would feel as a Mum during my recovery.

Currently, I can just about get around the house without the need for crutches – just – but can’t leave the house without using them.  I feel pretty good about where my knee recovery is at and I am making good progress.

However, I am currently feeling completely and utterly useless, neither use nor ornament.  I spend most days watching other people take care of my child because I physically can’t manage on my own.  I can’t easily pick up my very active toddler.  I can’t get her up and down the stairs because it takes all of my effort just to get myself up and down the stairs.  I can’t easily change her nappy as I can’t easily get down on the floor to do it (well… I can… it’s getting back up that is the challenge) and neither can I carry her up to the changing table.  I can’t stand for a long period of time and therefore can’t easily cook her meals.  I can’t take her to the park by myself because the pram isn’t a sturdy enough walking aid.  I can’t take her to softplay or other baby groups by myself because I can’t play in there.  Sounds a bit like a “woe is me” speech doesn’t it really – sorry about that! But I honestly feel completely useless.

I do not know how on Earth I would have coped had it not been for my family and friends offering their time, support and care.  My parents, my mother in law, my wonderfully patient husband, our nanny, my husband’s aunt (who went above and beyond to take me to some hospital appointments and then got stuck in heinous traffic on the M25 on the way home, resulting in a 25 minute journey taking over an hour!), my godmother and her magnificently medicinal Carrot Cake that was very gratefully received, my bestie who sent a “care-package” of chocolates and my work colleagues who sent messages of support.

I wonder how people who don’t have a support network around them cope in these situations?  I wonder how on Earth I would have managed if I hadn’t been able to call on all of these people for support.  Halfway through my “sick leave” I am still needing to sleep in the afternoons because getting up and about is so exhausting.  I could argue that I could just about manage now with BG on my own… when I’m being stubborn that is.  When I am wanting to loudly shout “I can still mum-it with the best of them”, when internally I am screaming “I CAN DO IT”, when I am feeling so inexplicably awkward when I am sat with my leg up on a footstool watching someone else look after my baby.  The reality is though, I am still recovering and I can’t manage looking after BG and myself by myself  It’s a strange feeling that I can’t quite fully explain.  There’s a kind of melancholy that follows me around. I want to be able to enjoy this extra time I’ve got with my little one – I’m off work for 8 weeks after all, I should see it as bonus maternity leave – but I somehow feel quite down about the fact that I can’t really look after her.  It makes me feel a more than a little useless.  Neither use nor ornament.  Almost as if I’m failing as a mum, or that somehow BG is going to start thinking I don’t want to interact with her

What happens to single parents who need an operation and an extended stay in hospital?  What happens to their children?  How do they cope?  How do they recover?  Those who go through all of that alone are my heroes – honestly, you are.

To all those who have helped so far over the last 4 weeks and for those who are coming to help over the next 4 – THANK YOU!

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