musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

A Month of Hibernating

For such a short month, February has felt long this year. Almost all of my time has been spent sitting in my house, in an armchair, recovering from my second knee replacement on January 29th. I knew how this was going to be. I’d tell people, “February is a good month to stay inside.” Which is true. The reality of the experience isn’t as cozy as that sounds.

Truly, this particular February has been extra-excellent to be inside. In a very un-Minnesota-like fashion, this year Winter didn’t seem to start until February. We breezed through Christmas and even January without more than a dusting of snow. We had above-normal temperatures. We started to wonder if we’d even get an actual Winter this year. I shouldn’t have worried — Winter was just waiting for February.

Suddenly we had hypothermia-inducing lows of -35 degrees with -50 windchills. It started snowing and hasn’t stopped (well, a few breaks here and there). We currently have a record-breaking 31.5 inches this month. It’s been intense.

I, however, am not a participant this month; I’m an observer watching the world through windows. I am not shoveling (poor Bob) or driving or going out to work. I’ve only been outside a half-dozen times for appointments or outings. Walking out the door with a walker or cane and unsteady legs is intimidating with all the snow and ice.

On one of these outings, our car got stuck in the unplowed alley and I had to take over driving while Bob got out to shovel and push the car (it took awhile). With me being physically under par, it’s easier and safer to just throw another blanket on my lap than try to go out.

Some animals survive the Winter by hibernating. Since food is scarce, they’ve developed a strategy of going into a period of suspended animation. Their breathing and heart rate slows, their body temperature drops, in some cases even below freezing. They stop eating and live off stored energy. It’s amazing how their bodies have found this way to adapt to their circumstances.

My hibernation this month has been my own way of adapting and getting my body through this post-surgery wintry limbo. My job this month has been healing, resting, managing pain with meds and ice, and doing my physical therapy exercises twice a day. My job has been lowering my expectations and subduing my tendencies to do too much. My job has been to watch movies and Youtube videos to distract myself from discomfort. The days blur together. There’s achiness and isolation, asking for help and the grogginess of medication.

Sooner or later the bear comes out of its cave, ready to find food again. Sooner or later Spring will come and the waist-high snowbanks will melt. For me, day-by-day things get easier. My new knee bends more, gets stronger, and I can walk around the house without my cane. Spring will come and I’m so looking forward to being able to move-walk-dance freely in the warm floral days outside. After the other kind of hibernation I’ve been through — years of chronic pain — I’m so ready to wake up and see what these new knees can do.  

{Photos courtesy of Jurien Huggins and Daneile Levis Pulusi 3 of}


  1. Christine Mounts

    Speedy recovery! You are not missing much… : )

    Also, try kitty litter or your car floor mats from traction under the tires when you get stuck.

    • Theresa Alberti

      Hah, thanks! Good to know! And yeah, it’s been so bleak out there. Will be fun when it all melts at once!

  2. Sharon

    Hi Theresa!

    Thought I’d pop by to see if you were NaNo-ing this year. I see you haven’t posted in awhile . . . I hope all is well!

    Personally February flew by, but January lasted forever. I hope the new knees are treating you well!

    • Theresa Alberti

      Hi Sharon– how great to hear from you! I toyed with the idea of doing another Poetry Month but just don’t have it in me this year. I will pop over to your website to see how you’re doing with it. I really really need to get back to writing poetry, though. It’s been awhile, but I know how cathartic it ends up being for me.

      I’m hanging in there and doing all my recovery stuff. The new knees are great and I just have to build my strength and stamina, and get my back stronger because that has been affecting my recovery.

      Thanks for check in on me! I hope you are doing well… Write On!

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