Week two at Fate Bene Fratelli was more of the same- alot more, as my rehab schedule increased to include two water therapy sessions a day, and a special "Knee Group".
I loved the water therapy. I had one session at 10 am, and another at 6pm. Before going to the pool, I had to get to my room, change into a bathing suit, and then stop at the nurses station to have them put a plastic protective covering over the incision. Oh, and before I forget, I got to take off the SOCKS. More on this in a minute.
To get into the pool, you sit in a mechanical chair that swings over the water and you are lowered into the water. In the water, your knee feels great. No pain. You can do things with it that you couldn't do so easily outside the water. I loved it. I could stay there forever doing bicycle exercises. My 10 am session consisted of people I had never seen before, but all of my "Knee group" members were also at the 6pm pool session, so I saw these people alot and got to know them a little better.
Now, more on the socks. One of the things I was told to bring with me to Ospedale were these special socks (calze) that are specially designed to protect you from blood clots. It's customary to wear these after knee surgeries of all kinds. In my case I was required to wear them for 40 days following surgery. I had to be measured for them to get the correct size for my legs. Both legs had to have them on, even the unoperated one. These socks are stretchy, and tight. They fit like skin. And they are not easy to get on. It ususally took two nurses to wrestle it on to my poor knee, trying hard to get up and over the dressing on my incision without sending me into orbit in pain. These socks have to be on night and day, and frankly, they hurt, and are a pain in the butt. But I understand the purpose. So. Once I started water therapy, the socks came on and off twice a day. What an ordeal. I could get them off me by myself ok, but needed the nurses to get them back on. My leg felt great when the socks were off, like I'd been released from prison or something. Lots of benefits to the water therapy!!!
On Sundays and holidays, there is no rehab at Fate Bene Fratelli. It's a day off for you to relax. On Saturdays, you have a reduced schedule, since the physical therapists only work half day. By week two, with my increased therapy schedule, I really looked forward to Sunday. December 8th was a special holiday here in Italy, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I was raised Catholic, but I don't go to church regularly. Don't ask me why, but I decided to go to mass on Dec 8th. Oh I do know why, I needed some divine intervention and I needed it pronto. I was certain my knee was never going to bend, and that scared me to death.
I haven't quite figured out the workings of Fate Bene Fratelli, whether it is a religious organization run by nuns or a government facility, because it is part of the Italian National Health service too. There were a couple of nuns always around. On the morning of December 8 I asked our resident nun to remember to please come pick me up on her way to the chapel. Almost all of my fellow residents on our floor were present in the pews when I arrived and I saw several members of my Knee Group too. Mass was nice, although difficult to sit through because of the position of my knee as I was sitting. When it was over, I hobbled back to my room on my crutch, happy for a day off from work!!
The next morning I decided to get the nurse to put the plastic protective covering on my incision first thing in the morning to save time. I got to my 8:30 am session with Blagha and things went miraculously well. Everytime she asked me to do some knee bend, I was doing it. She was aghast. What the heck is going on? You could not do these day before yesterday. I know, I know. It was a miracle. Yes, that and the socks. I didn't have them on. Blagha and I seemed to realize that at exactly the same moment. Wow... the socks. They were so tight and restrictive on my knee, it couldn't move. Without it, my knee was moving. Blagha called the orthopedic doctor immediately! A breakthrough! Blagha asked the doctor to give me permission to stop wearing the socks, but she said no. Instead she told my husband to go buy another pair one size bigger. I was so dejected to have to wear them. Blagha had a great solution! Every morning when I went to her, we took off my socks, and I left them off until after my 10 am water session. Alot of progress was made in the next few days. Alot.
Mike bought the larger socks, and I was back in them as directed. About two days later during my session with Blagha in the morning, the head doctor, whose title is " Il Premio", stopped by Blagha's station. He ran his hands over my knee, asked her a few questions, smiled and said " Buon lavoro" (good work). I'd seen him around before. In fact, he had been in my room examining my knee early on. He's hard to miss, he wears bright blue framed glasses that separate in the middle and connect with a magnet at the nosepiece. The glasses are always around his neck on a chain hanging in two pieces. Funny. I didn't think anything of his visit that morning, just a routine thing. When I finished up with my all my morning sessions and made my way back to my room, the nurse on duty called me over to the nurses station when she saw me turn the corner. "No more socks for you," she said. "I don't know how you did it, but you are out of the socks. Brava!" Thank you, Il Premio. Thank you, Blagha. And thank you, Lord, because maybe I did get alittle divine intervention thrown in!
Sidenote on the socks: Now I have two pairs of these things, size medium and size large. In addition to that, I also discovered that the men in my knee group were wearing a different kind of sock, one much thinner than mine, so I sent Mike to buy a pair of those for me, just a day before Il Premio gave me the pardon. If anyone needs these, let me know!