Small Steps Forward

Walking is a step by step process.

Swing leg forward, straighten, tighten quad muscles, connect to the ground with heel. Keep the quads tensed, shift weight fully onto leg and through the foot, and bring the whole leg back like that as you shift forwards.

The crutch is there just in case; don’t lean on it. Putting weight on this leg still feels dangerous; it wasn’t so long ago the knee would collapse, and you along with it, at this point. But things are different now. It will hold.

Push off with your toes. It’s going to pull on the knee cap — patella, a word you still associate with a rhyming breakfast spread — and that’s going to sting, but don’t worry, nothing will give way. Yes, push off with the toe. Bend the knee as much close to normal while you’re doing it. It’s going to pull in all the weird ways it’s not supposed to, but remember, it will hold. Keep knee bent, bring it forward while bent, straighten the leg, and tighten quad to hold your weight. Don’t lean on the crutch, you don’t need it.

The other leg does the same of its own accord. It feels like you’re walking normally again, almost.

After three steps you relax and forget to talk yourself through the motions. On the fourth, you find yourself doing the straight-legged-scarecrow hobble of the past twelve weeks.

You stop and stand, take a deep breath, and start again.

In August this year, I had surgery for a knee injury sustained the month before. I’m documenting my process of recovery, and learning to walk again. See all posts in this series.