Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Knee Has Finally Caught Me

Old Doc Tate told me a long time ago--when I was 17 and still bulletproof--that I would regret playing that senior year of high school football. "It won't come at you soon," he said, sternly, "but it'll come. You'll be 40, maybe 50 or even 60, but it'll come and you'll regret what you're getting ready to do."

In the mean time, what he was warning me about turned out to have likely saved my butt at least once. I didn't have to go to Vietnam because of my bad knee, the one Doc Tate said would trouble me for most of my life. I guess that was a good trade; certainly seemed so at the time. Today, as I hobbled from my office to my truck, completely unable to take that hour-a-day walk I promise myself, I wondered.

The knee has always been problematic. It would simply fail at the most inconvenient times, though on occasion it could prove an ally. Patti Hull was killing me in a tennis match years ago when the knee buckled and I hit the asphalt like a dropped watermelon. Through my groans, I said, "This match doesn't count!" She was furious, but I was so pitiful lying there in a heap that she didn't show it until later. "You'll do anything to avoid losing," she finally said. "Not anything," I said. "There's one or two things I won't do, but I forget what they are."

For many years, it was just the one bad knee, the right one. I learned to hop around on crutches with a certain flair--especially in high school when crutches were wooden medals. You shudda seen me bound UP those steps. Impressive stuff.

About two years ago, flush with the joy of my first Vespa-style scooter and again feeling like bullets wouldn't penetrate--I'm 60 at this point and riding that scooter like Audry Hepburn's on the back--I wrecked in a curve when the front tire buckled. Reflexively, I tried to right the falling scooter with my left foot as this 250-pound machine was going down. My knee gave and I knew the feeling well, though it was more familiar on he other side. It buckled and hurt and was weak and I yelled more in anger than in pain.

Now, it was two bad knees, each making the other worse as I adjusted my gait to lessen the pain and with each adjustment put pressure where it shouldn't be. I felt like Dizzy Dean trying to pitch with that broken toe, which ruined his arm. Go figure.

Today, I finally realized that this isn't going to get better. It's probably going to be a lot worse, but I'm too young for a replacement or, God forbid, a walker (I can hear the old man jokes already and I'm still not even adjusted to being a grandpa). I simply can't afford to stop working on this new publication before it's fully established--and, man are we off to a good start! Knee surgery of this radical kind, from what I understand, takes six weeks or more to heal. And it hurts like hell, which is not appealing to me.

So I'll hobble on, hoping to get in my hour a day one way or another. If I don't, the diabetes kicks in and we don't want that. Old age, as my friend Betsy says, ain't for the faint of heart or the sissy.

1 comment:

  1. Not another ortho patient! You and Mike should share knee woes...