Walking is in my blood. My father was never one for it, but my mother is a walker. It wasn’t unusual for her to walk for hours for the hell of it, with unfailing regularity. Now in her mid 60s, with troublesome knee joints, she still possesses enough enthusiasm to out-walk many people half her age.
For me, learning to read while walking sealed the deal. As a child, taking the meandering route home from school instead of the bus, meant I had at least an hour more a day with my book. Then I too, discovered that walking is catharsis, growth, clarity, pleasure, refuge, salvation.
In early November, a few days after my father’s funeral, I tore the anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee, as so many others have done, playing basketball. I limped into surgery in mid January so they could construct me a new ligament from strands of my own hamstring, marvelously, through three little holes around the knee.
The road to recovery: Two weeks on crutches, fighting a black plastic brace I eventually ditched a few days early. Then hobbling around with one crutch for a while afterwards. Regular physiotherapy. Not being able to bend or straighten my knee much. Moving slowly, for frustratingly short periods of time. Icing fifteen minutes out of every hour. All in all, the first three weeks post surgery were reminiscent of the two months before it, except for the copious amounts of cling wrap I used (to keep the dressing dry when i showered).
Then one day, I could straighten my leg completely again. Later, hit the ground heel first, bend the leg normally, push off on toes and bear weight without flinching. Climb stairs. Walk for a whole day without feeling it.
Colours got brighter, and smells, more evocative. The rest of my body registered sensation, not just knot of discomfort that was my recently operated-on knee. I started to mark minute, but noticeable progress in recovery everyday. I stopped being overwhelmed by everything. Because I had mobility – and thus, independence and capability – back.
I’ve got another six or so months of rehabilitation my full range of movement comes back, but this is the first time in five months that I’ve been able to walk normally again.
I am alive. It feels wonderful.