Opinion: Weak-kneed about surgery


About three years ago, my orthopedist said I needed to have my knee replaced. I suggested replacing it with a Segway. I’m no doctor, but I really thought that would make it a lot easier to get around.

Truth is, the surgeon did a great job. He told my wife that mine were the worst-looking knees he had ever seen. The first time Mary Ellen and I went to the beach, she made a very similar comment.

This past winter, I started to do a lot of jogging, and apparently, I overdid it. Recently, my knee began to hurt, and I could hear crunching in the joint. It wasn’t just the pain that kept me awake at night. It was the noise.

After limping around the house for the past several weeks, I made another appointment with my orthopedist. When I reached his office, I ran into an entire waiting room of people who were there to make a trade. Everyone sitting near me was having something replaced — a knee, a shoulder, an elbow. One guy confused the term metatarsal with Taurus and was hoping to get a good deal on a used car.

Before my knee replacement several years ago, I went to an imaging center for an MRI. The receptionist showed me an outline of a man’s body and asked me to put an X over the knee that was troubling me. This was confusing, because the figure was looking at me, so his right was my left. It was way too complicated. I simply pulled down my pants and drew an X on my own knee. The nurse said not to do this — because doctors are never sure if X marks the spot to operate or not to operate. She also asked that I not pull down my pants in the waiting room again.

The next morning, I looked at my online medical chart. It said: Within the intercondylar notch region posteriorly … there is an irregular structure … consistent with a loose body. This sounded like a clinical explanation of my flabby rear end.

This time, the diagnosis was a lot simpler: “You have a hairline fracture in your lower leg, which causes pain in the knee,” the surgeon told me. “You must avoid stress for several weeks. That tibia of yours is 74 years old.”

“Lower your voice, Doc. I don’t want my other tibia to hear about this.They’re twins.”

I have stopped watching political talk shows and I no longer argue with Mary Ellen about who the next host of “Jeopardy” should be. Like the doctor ordered, I have avoided stress. But my knee is still killing me.


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