These Knees Are Made for Walkin’
One year ago this month, an anesthesiologist sedated me. Then a surgeon used a power saw to cut through the bones in both legs. When I woke up a few hours later I had two brand-spanking-new knees. They have served me well, too. Five weeks after surgery, I was dancing around my office on them. Recently, they carried me all over Manhattan in New York City, where I walked nine miles in one day. And five the next.
Between those two bookends, I’ve done CrossFit (pushing and bench pressing who knows how many pounds), gone swimming, and taken aqua aerobics and dance classes. I’ve flown to Colorado, driven to Florida, and carried box after box up and down staircases. Last week while shaving my legs, I raised my right one in the shower, placing my foot on a waist-high metal bar. (Now that’s a feat I haven’t done for years!) I also sat on my duff for more hours than I care to recall, where I wrote two books and edited another. That’s 153,000 words, give or take. (And it doesn’t include the 72,000 words I edited for the third book.) Even as I write this, I find these facts amazing given that I had major surgery just two months before I sent the first book to my publisher.
I am in awe of people who climb mountains, free fall from airplanes, and engage in extreme skiing stunts that would probably kill the likes of me. But for every one of those activities, I have accomplished something equally challenging. And I’ll bet you have, too. It’s easy to forget what we’re capable of—until we look back and see what we did. Activities that, in hindsight, only seem possible with superhuman strength. Divine intervention, if you will.
Like arriving by bus in NYC at 7 a.m. one day, pounding 14 miles of pavement, and returning back to Morgantown, W.Va., at 9 a.m. two days later. I made that same trip 10 years ago and thought it would kill me—and my turnaround time then was nothing like this recent trip. While exhausted this time, I realized I wasn’t in pain like the last time. Then, every part of my body ached, especially my back. The only thing I can attribute the lack of pain to this time is my bionic knees. (Compliments of Dr. David Tuel, surgeon extraordinaire.) And that makes sense, when you think about it. If you have one broken body part (or, in this case, two), it’s going to affect the rest of you.
That’s why it’s important to take care of the body you have right now, with good nutrition, proper rest and exercise, occasional mental health days, and moderation in all things. It’s also crucial to get any repairs taken care of in a timely manner. Before it’s too late and you’ve ruined something you dearly need—like a leg. Or a liver.
Because once that happens, you won’t be walking nine miles anywhere.
* * * *
My seventh book, Shatter the Silence, a love story and the long-awaited sequel to my first memoir was released May 7. That’s on the heels of Tales of the Vintage Berry Wine Gang, a collection of my newspaper columns from 1988-91, which came out in April. Prior to those two books, Guilt by Matrimony was released last November. It’s about the murder of Aspen socialite Nancy Pfister.
My memoir, Sister of Silence, is about surviving domestic violence and how journalism helped free me; Cheatin’ Ain’t Easy, now in ebook format, is about the life of Preston County native, Eloise Morgan Milne; The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese (a New York Times bestseller, with coauthor Geoff Fuller) and Pretty Little Killers (also with Fuller), released July 8, 2014, and featured in the August 18 issue of People Magazine.
For an in-depth look at the damaging effects of the silence that surrounds abuse, please watch my live TEDx talk, given April 13, 2013, at Connecticut College.
Have a great day and remember, it’s whatever you want to make it!
Editor’s Note: Effective June 2, 2016, Ms. Berry’s blog will begin appearing each Thursday, rather than Monday, as it has been. Berry is a New York Times best-selling author and a recipient of the Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change. She has won several other awards, for investigative journalism and her weekly newspaper columns, and her memoir, Sister of Silence, placed first in the West Virginia Writers’ Competition. Ms. Berry speaks about overcoming abuse through awareness, empowerment and goal attainment at conferences around the country. To read an excerpt of her memoir, please go to the Sister of Silence site. Check out the five-star review from ForeWord Reviews. Or find out why Kirkus Reviews called Ms. Berry “an engaging writer, her style fluid and easy to read, with welcome touches of humor and sustained tension throughout.”