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The Kindness of Strangers

It’s four weeks now since I had my right knee replaced. Here is a picture of me shortly after surgery, elevating my legs to prevent blood clots. I am also waving around my new toy—a “reacher.” The “reacher” helps you pick up items off the floor, and it works very well, but is obviously not needed in this picture. Must have been the narcotics making me giddy.

The knee is rehabbing well and I was excited to reach the four-week mark and try driving again for the first time. My errands were simple—mail a birthday package to my son, go to the bank ATM, and pick up a ten-pound bag of ice at the local gas station store.

Ouch. Getting into the driver’s seat was not a piece of cake, but I made it. At the post office, I got out of the car with my new cane, made sure my purse strap was over my head and managed to palm the smallish package against my side. I never noticed before that our local post office is not handicap-accessible. All the doors—and there are three of them to get into the service area—need to be pulled open. Wouldn’t “push” make more sense when people are coming in with packages?

I don’t know how I would have done it, had it not been for the kindness of a stranger who opened all three doors for me.

Once the package was mailed, I headed for the gas station to buy a bag of ice. Ice is the friend of joint replacement patients. I have an ice machine along with a special wrap that goes around my knee and compresses the cold water to the achy joint.

The parking lot at the gas station was a sloppy mess. Even though I was able to park in the handicapped spot, navigating the snow with a cane was not easy. At least their doors are “pushed” to enter. And, thank goodness, a ten-pound bag of ice comes with a handle. In my former, pre-surgery life, I might have grabbed a couple of other items but a cane limits what one can carry.

Grateful to have made it back to my car safely, I decided my first outing had been a success. I thought about the guy who opened three doors for me at the post office. The kindness of strangers sure makes a difference.

And I have a new appreciation for the difficulty of maneuvering with a cane or a walker. How about you? Have you experienced temporary immobility? It’s humbling, isn’t it? I know I will be a better person for this experience, and have more empathy for those dealing with infirmities.

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