Having had ANOTHER surgery in December, I am once again recuperating. I am beginning to feel like a slice and dice pincushion. In the last two-two and a half years I have had five surgeries, two major and three minor; three on my knees, one of them, the most recent, a total knee replacement on my right knee. I know all but my open heart surgery were elective…but they were ‘necessary elective surgery.’
I am in no way complaining, although I must admit it may sound like it, and I am truly thankful to the doctors and the medical system in the United States that is light years beyond anything else, anywhere else on the planet. They were able to open my chest, remove my heart, place it on the work bench like a shade tree mechanic with a carburetor from a 69 Ford pickup truck, tinker with it, replace some parts, admire their work, discuss their favorite football team and how their fantasy players were or weren’t performing, replace my heart, attach the jumper cables to a Sears Diehard Battery that they have been using for over ten years, yell clear, hit the switch and get my heart pumping again…and all this without breaking a sweat of missing their afternoon tee-time at the country club. They even woke me up and asked if I wanted to fill out the foursome.
In actuality, my heart never left my chest but I am glad they had a Diehard battery on hand to get it going again.
This year, after my knee having been bone on bone for 38 years after a surgery in the Navy, my right knee needed to be replaced. I had been putting it off for five or so years, but a hike to the top of Multnomah Falls outside of Portland Oregon convinced me that the percussion music my bone on bone condition that had been keeping rhythm to the sound on the radio was more of a grinding sound and less pleasant to the ear…and to pain receptors in my head. If the hike up wasn’t enough, I found that the promised helicopter ride back down was actually nonexistent and I had to hobble, stumble, roll and cry all the way to the bottom. I was willing to ride the water over the falls, but everyone felt that the ensuing collision with the rocks below would somehow violate the EPA mandated clean water act…what do they know.
That initial hike made the decision for me, but my wife wanted to make sure that I was sure about my decision and proceeded to play tour guide and took me on more hikes up and down the Oneonta Gorge and numerous other waterfall and forest trails to ensure that I knew the surgery was for real and not an excuse to lie in a hospital bed for three days to flirt wit the nurses through a drug induced state of euphoria.
December rolled around and so did the knee surgery. We headed to Portland, stayed at my sons for two days before the surgery, took a trip to the good will and purchased a walker…yeah you read that right, a walker. But not just any walked…this one is the Cadillac level of walkers. It is a three wheeled one with hand brakes and a Harley type saddle bag to carry my meds, warm weather clothing and large print Readers Digest…everything but a seat…but it does have a fancy burgundy metallic finish…cool!
I spent the evening disassembling it, cleaning it with alcohol…never know what the previous owner might have been afflicted with and I really didn’t need anything else to worry about…and took it for a spin around my sons house. Everything worked well and I was well versed in walker usage before I entered the hospital. There would be no laughing at me by the other patients and nurses as I already learned the proper posture, perfected starting and stopping techniques, turning, backing and overall usage of my knew wheeled support vehicle. I was ready for a Walk About in the Australian Outback!
Surgery came and went and went well. Three days of convalescing in the hospital was no picnic, and even all the drugs taken orally, shot in my butt and dripped into my arm only temporally stopped the expected pain from making an extended visit.
I spent several more days at my son’s house, sleeping and recovering, making sure that my knee was not getting infected before heading down the freeway from Portland to Medford. It seemed that I was standing up the whole way, rather than lounging in the reclined seat of the pickup while my wife drove cautiously avoiding quick turns and bumps in the road. Pain meds helped me over the unavoidable bumps on the free way and helped me sleep in the uncomfortable and contorted position that I found necessary to be in to fit into the truck; so glad for modern medicine and better pain control through pharmaceuticals.
Now it was onto therapy and recovery. I didn’t know what to expect but as the therapist took hold of my ankle and began “assisting” me in my endeavor to bend my right leg the scream that came from deep in throat startled even me. It felt as if the therapist thought the surgeon had made a mistake in repairing my leg and that in reality it needed to be removed below the knee…without the assistance of any anesthesia.
Now I have heard that pain is just weakness leaving the body I should have taken that with a grain of salt because it was a Marine who gave me the gold nugget of wisdom. I know that after years of inactivity and wearing a supportive brace to keep me from finding myself flat on my face for no apparent reason that my leg was weak…but I never realized it was THAT weak.
I have also heard that pain in the body is your body letting you know that you are alive. If that is this truth, with the pain I have endured over that past five years or so I should be living the life of daily participation in an unending party at Mardi Gras in Rio.
Well I figured I would just enjoy the party some more, climb on my stationary bike, cause myself some more unendurable pain and peddle myself to…nowhere…well maybe to recovery…and I guess that is really not a bad destination.