A Walk In The Park By Beth Tarica

A WALK IN THE PARK? I WISH!

By Beth Tarica          If only I could walk the perimeter of Agawam Park. That doesn’t seem like much. I’ve done it many times before, and I’ve done it briskly, with a steady gait, and my head held high. But this time is different.  I am determined.

Six long days ago, I had arthroscopic knee surgery. The plan was to recuperate and rehabilitate in beautiful Southampton. Many people, most of all, my orthopedic surgeon assured me this meniscus repair and scope was a mere ‘walk in the park’. Easy breezy. No big deal. Yes, maybe for him.  However, after doing my own research; questioning friends that experienced it, consulting my sister, a renowned physical therapist, and even my niece, a third year medical student, I discovered that this ‘walk in the park’ procedure was more likely to be a four to six week recovery. Fair enough; I could handle limping in and out of stores on Main Street and hobbling down to the shoreline at Coopers Beach. But when would I actually be strong enough to resume my daily exercise routine that includes power-walking?

I have enjoyed eighteen summers in Southampton, spending much of that time in Agawam Park. Adorned with its plush green foliage, it consistently captivates me as I drive east into the Town of Southampton. Just past the chained-off cannon artillery display, I notice residents, vacationers, and summer-birds, sitting on the grass, walking their dogs and flying colorful kites. As I gaze down the massive manicured lawn, I am faced with a beautiful octagonal fountain straight ahead.  Behind it, two American flags stand erect in front of a Parthenon-type structure that is dedicated to World War I heroes.  To the left of that structure (which is in desperate need of restoration), I appreciate the smiling faces of children swinging happily in the fun-filled playground. On Wednesday nights throughout the season, I am fortunate enough to sit with my husband on our beach chairs and enjoy summer concerts. So why now do I have a passion to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk?

As a middle-aged woman, but young at heart, there was a reason I felt ambivalent and hesitant about taking action on my double-torn meniscus. One random evening, about five years ago, my knee swelled up and I was in excruciating pain. The following day, my orthopedic surgeon drained liters of fluid from my knee, and suggested an MRI.  The MRI revealed a double tear and the recommendation was to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery when I felt up for it.  I wasn’t bored or brave enough to set aside time for surgery, so I functioned with mild pain throughout the years.  Yes, I will concur, a torn meniscus is a whole lot better than an ACL repair or knee replacement.  However, it’s still surgery.  It reminds me a little of when I was having my first child and my male obstetrician said, “Don’t worry, Beth, it’s a walk in the park.” A great comment from someone who never actually gave birth!

I might be a mature woman, mother, wife, psychotherapist and aspiring writer. However, I’ll admit, I’m a coward. Hospitals do not agree with me. Surgery doesn’t either. The list goes on. Painkillers, which I was unconsciously looking forward to taking, in order to relieve my pain, double-crossed me as they made me feel nauseated and peculiar. I felt guilty for not being hospitable to my family and friends when they came to visit immediately following my surgery. Basically, I was cranky. And unfortunately, my poor husband got the brunt of it. He catered to me as best he could, by constantly bringing me ice packs and Advil, but I definitely was not a happy camper.  He couldn’t wait to take me out to our magical retreat, where my spirits would lift in our summer home located on Far Pond. The sheer beauty of being surrounded by still waters and blue skies, would serve as a perfect remedy for recovery.

So this little nothing, no big deal surgery, that repaired my double torn meniscus surrounded by torn cartilage and globs of calcification, is hopefully all behind me. Each day the pain diminishes, and the swelling slowly decreases.  It certainly hasn’t been a ‘walk in the park’ but it has made me passionate about walking in Agawam Park in the very near future.

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