Going Under the Knife

I usually write about social skills and sexuality, communications and relationships.  Today’s topic isn’t sexy in the least and is more about communications and relationships with myself. I have a bad knee, have had for more than 14 years.  It started with a torn meniscus  and has ended up here with no more cartilage, bone on bone painful pressure, and absolutely nothing left to do about it except allow it to worsen or have surgery.

I don’t know how many orthopedists I have consulted over the years. More than 6 in the last year alone.  I have been injected with various cortisones and cortisone-like substances and have explored injections of blood platelets and stem cells.  I’m out of options. No one has wagged a finger at me and those who know me well wouldn’t dare tell me what I “should” do, but I know that all my doctors have recommended surgery, and most of my friends as well.  All the women at my health club pool who wear the tell-tale 6” scar on one or both knees do not hang back with their advice when they see me limp in with my cane. “What are you waiting for, Honey?  A miracle cure?”

Actually, yes.  The injection of stem cells harvested from one’s own coccyx, whirled with something or other and then injected into the joint depleted of cartilage in hopes that it will grow some anew (and not an ear or a toe!)  is only now in the experimental stage, but too late for me.  I have none left in that knee to work with.

One woman at the club who looks at least 10 years younger than I am scoffed “Knee replacement’s a breeze.  I’ve had four.”  Since she appeared to be a 2 legged creature, that was no reassurance.

One of the key comments that convinced me surgery was what was required was that the stone-faced X- ray tech who took the most recent set blurted “Jeez!  This is one terrible knee!” when he was behind the machine.  I would say that was a spontaneous unsolicited expert opinion, wouldn’t you?

So here I am 3 days from S Day, like D Day with less bloodshed, I hope.    I am doing all my laundry, stocking the pantry and fridge, being extra kind to my cats, and poring over the bible-sized binder the surgeon has given me detailing pre, during, and post- operative care . I have made out my Advanced Directive, my will, and letters to all my dearest ones.  I have meditated and practiced the positive self-talk I teach my therapy clients.  And it does work, but then I get a blast of a new terrifying “what if? and I have to start all over again!

I chose the surgeon I reluctantly did because his clinic does nothing but knees and turns out more a week than Pepperidge  Farm does Milano cookies.  He is certainly experienced and is covered with awards of excellence from colleagues and patients which just happen to hang all over the waiting room.  (“And what about his very rare but very real foul-ups” says the imp on my shoulder whispering into my ear). Back to the positive self-talk.

Those of you have experienced a terrifying medical procedure will recognize what I’m going through.  If you have and you’re reading this then you have obviously survived…and so will I, I’m sure.  No prayers are necessary , but wish me (and the surgeon) an excellent outcome.  Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.