Amid all the strife, discord and horrifying events in the world, I’m afraid I’ve got to saddle you — my loyal readers — with one more worldly concern.
Fortunately for you, this is just a straw that should not break your strong backs. But for me it’s a preoccupying, calendar-watching ordeal that can’t get here soon enough: Knee-replacement surgery coming up July 22, a week from Friday.
It’s been hanging over me for two months now, since I went to the knee-replacement surgeon (he also does hips) in early May. At that point, I wanted to get the surgery done as soon as possible (once you make that decision, you’re ready to go, right?), and the first available date was June 21. Couldn’t do it, then, though, because Patty was going to be out of town on business (she has a company that manufactures and sells clergy vestments). The next time and date the scheduler offered was 7:30 a.m. July 5.
I snapped that up, even though I had some misgivings about early-morning surgery the day after the Fourth…What if the surgeon had a couple too many beers on the Fourth…or fireworks kept him awake ’til 2:30 a.m.?
Those concerns became moot, however, after Patty vetoed the date because our 26-year-old son Charlie and his girlfriend were coming for a visit from Las Vegas. I knew they were planning to come but the dates were uncertain at the time I scheduled the surgery. Turned out to be the second week of July.
Even with them here, I would have gone ahead with the July 5 surgery, but, like I said, it was vetoed. Reluctantly, I rescheduled for the “next available” date, which was July 22.
I first went to the orthopedist for the knee about a year and a half ago, when it started giving me more than passing pain. I’m no stranger to knee problems, having had three arthroscopic surgeries on the left and one on the right over a period of many years.
The orthopedist — not the one who is doing the surgery but another in the same group — diagnosed the problem as osteoarthritis and said the arthritis had eroded much of the remaining cartilage, the buffer between the femur and tibia. Once the buffer is gone, it’s “bone on bone,” and that means one thing — pain.
I love that orthopedist. He has helped me with shoulder and knee problems and in 2007 put a plate and screws in my left ankle after I had broken it in a fall on the ice. But on this knee, he gave me false hope. He said periodic steroid shots would help — they did — and then he added: “At some point, maybe in 15 or 20 years, you’re going to need a knee replacement.”
Fifteen or twenty years, I thought…wow, that’s great!
I should have known better because that orthopedist is one who never pushes surgery, saying, “There isn’t any condition that surgery can’t make worse.”
Late last year, as the knee pain was increasing, I had an MRI, which indicated a possible re-tear of the cartilage. As a last-gasp measure to forestall knee-replacement surgery, I asked the orthopedist to perform another arthroscopic surgery. He did, and at first it seemed to help a bit. But a few months ago, the knee pain increased significantly.
About the time the pain was increasing, I unwisely purchased tickets for two days of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pittsburgh (last month) and had made airline and hotel arrangements. The week before the trip, I realized it was a pipe dream and canceled the airline, hotel and rental car reservations. I tried to sell the tournament tickets on eBay but wasn’t successful, so I ate $235.
On the other hand, I’ve been able to play nine holes of golf every week or so, using a cart and hobbling from green to cart and cart to tee, and applying my putter to double duty as a cane. The last time I played was early last week, and I don’t know if I’m going to try it again; the pain is worse, and I’m worried that I might screw up my back since I can’t swing the club as freely as I used to.
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been sitting around watching re-runs of “The First 48” on A&E (one of the best damned TV shows to ever come along, in my opinion) and women’s and men’s golf tournaments.
Yesterday and today I got up and put on a golf outfit — pink, salmon or red pants and a white Polo-type shirt (ghastly, I know) — with every intention of getting in the car and driving to the course. But then fear, discomfort and inertia send me back to the front-room chair for more TV.
…July 22. Finally, it’s within range. I look at it on the calendar like a kid looks at Dec. 25 thinking it will never arrive. My only worries now are that the surgeon might cancel for some reason or I might turn up with a fever and have to reschedule.
My only other concern is that the surgeon is going to view me as just another body being trundled onto the O.R. bed. Well, I’m going to make it very clear before the surgery that he is about to work on none other than The Fabulous JimmyC and that thousands upon thousands of loyal readers are relying on his skill to get me back to “work” as soon as possible.