Doing my inclined leg presses on the ‘total gym’, the name given to the inclinable bench, I was concentrating on the necessary focal point of this perfunctory exercise, my newly replaced prosthetic hips. It was my last day of physical therapy after my second total hip replacement and twenty four weeks of physical therapy, twice a week twelve weeks for each hip after each surgery. High angst and many frustrating days getting both surgeries done within an eight month period (“ wah, wah, wah!”). Next to me was another empty, yet not for long, total gym. Feebly yet determined, this small of stature, maybe being that she walked with her shoulders curved pronouncedly forward, came to sit on the ’total gym’ exercise bench next to me. After being assisted on to the table at an incline, she began doing the knee bends. My curiosity of course observed her but only through my discrete periphery. She labored with every knee bend some painful distress as it showed in her cringing of the eyelids, tilting of the head as she rhythmically exhaled with every bend and lift of her legs. As I noticed her facial expression, while exhaling, she would struggle with taught lips and her tongue curling in between the upper and lower false teeth to bring them back in. At that moment it reminded me of my Mother when she would do the same every time we would laugh deeply about the silliest things.
This lady next to me looked to be around the octogenarian age group. I thought to myself as to why at that age would she be getting such a drastic surgical procedure. My curiosity got the best of me so I asked her “….what did you have done“? She very cautiously and without turning her head to look at me said “ I had a total right knee replacement”. Without me having to as a follow on question she continued “ My husband has been pressing me to get it done because of the pain I’ve been complaining about”. “ We finally decided to get it done which was just three weeks ago”. She said that with resembling quiet pride after I had complimented her on how well, seemingly, her progress was coming along. She then proceeded to tell me about how her husband has also been trying to get her to buy a new car because her fifteen year old Buick was beginning to show disrepair and he was concerned of her safety. She went on to say, “ I finally got a new, used, Impala, a person that we know who is a car salesman just dropped it off at my back garage”. I asked her well how do you like it? “oh, its ok, I liked my Buick better”. “What does your husband think about it” I asked her? She softly and with a noticeable quiver in her chin said “… He never saw it, He died six weeks ago”. She paused. “ We were married for fifty five years”. I calmly without attending to too much dramatics said “ I’m very sorry”. She didn’t even look my way but kept looking forward, exhaling finally her timer went off for her to go on to her next exercise. Her physical therapist came to assist her off the ’total gym’ and she just looked forward with an octogenarian pride as she was assisted to her next exercise. I could hear her tell her therapist “…phew, that was all I could take of that exercise”.