Have you ever needed to use something because it is a necessity but you absolutely despise it? This is my current relationship with the knee brace. This darn knee brace is cumbersome, annoying and oh-so-uncomfortable. Not painful, just uncomfortable!
The original knee brace I was going to use was a static stretch brace, however, you need to have a 60-degree bend, and my knee is locked at 50 degrees, so I am using this dynamic brace until I can bend at 60 degrees.
The purpose of this contraption is to bring flexion back to the knee over a period of time. I need to wear this three times a day for an hour each time. Here’s what was explained to me about the difference between static stretch vs. dynamic: dynamic is meant to get the joints and muscles moving, while static stretch exerts the muscles at a higher intensity and keeps the brace locked.
This is interesting to me because the dynamic brace seems to be “locked” and seems pretty intense so I can’t imagine how much more “intense” the static stretch will be, but I guess I will find out when the time comes!
I was so proud of myself for ironing on patches and inserting rings so I can use my OT tools to assist me in putting on this brace. We all know the story – I can’t bend down enough to reach the bottom of the brace, hence needing the workaround with the tools.
Since it is difficult to get the last strap around the bottom and I have to maneuver and fight with the strap, I am already frustrated by the time I get the brace situated!
Then, it’s time to literally crank the brace so I can determine what the best tension is to hold the knee at that degree. Originally, I thought I could do schoolwork while the brace was on for the hour. Wrong!
It is so uncomfortable that it’s difficult to focus on anything except how much time is left on the hour-long-torture-device!
So here’s where mindset comes in. I’m thinking that after a while of doing this, it will become second nature and I won’t need to focus so much on being uncomfortable.
I was remembering when I had the cement spacer holding my hip and femur together (sorry medical friends, I’m not familiar with the medical jargon!) and how uncomfortable it was, yet I lived that way for 1.4 years!
How about the time my brand spanking new hip dislocated and I had to wear the hip abduction brace? Remember this?
At first, it was uncomfortable and took a little while to get used to, but then my friends, then, that brace and I became friends and it was a security blanket so to speak. I liked the fact that I knew it was keeping my hip in place and it lessened my worries about another dislocation.
I’m thinking that after a while, this knee brace and I will become friends. Why? Logically I understand I need this to work so the flexion in my knee increases and I will be able to do “normal” things again. Sit more comfortably without needing to extend my leg out straight. DRIVE which equals FREEDOM! The list is long!
The hard part is focusing on the negative and the frustration. As with anything new, it takes time and patience, and if I have learned anything about myself, it is that I am very patient and resilient. I am also extremely fortunate that I continue to make progress because, frankly, as my surgeon says, there has been so much trauma to this leg that any progress is good progress!
We have all frustrations in our lives — it’s all about how you deal with them. I hope your frustrations are few and you find a way to make it work. Here’s to this knee brace working!
Until next time, be well and go out and do a random act of kindness!