Thursday, January 12, 2012

“Knee Go Boom: Part Four”

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to readers: What follows here is the latest installment of my journey through personal injury and rehabilitation, more than two years after the fact.

In May of 2009, I suffered a torn meniscus in my right knee, while working at a Geauga County drugstore. The episode inspired three columns for this newspaper which carried a cryptic title. It paraphrased a famous sketch by radio outlaw Phil Hendrie. Readers were puzzled at first. But soon enough, the message became clear.

I had entered a new world of limited mobility, and expanded journalistic inspiration.

The orthopedic specialist who provided care for my affliction surmised that it was the result of many years spent kneeling on concrete floors. His treatment included surgery, and a strong admonition: “Lose weight and avoid working in that industry. Or I predict that you will require a total knee replacement in three to five years!”

I accepted his advice as gospel truth. Yet fate intervened in ways that were impossible to overcome.

First, though I managed to shed fifty pounds, a genetic tendency to be large by nature continued. Generations of my family had fought the same battle, and lost. God had not intended us to be skinny. Our fate was clear.

Second, a chaotic period resulted when I tried to work as a full-time author and journalist. My books sold poorly. And a position as Sports Editor in another county failed to pay enough to support the family.

The result was that I reentered the world of retail management a few months after my knee had been repaired. With gratitude, I resumed familiar duties on the salesfloor of a local supermarket.

And for a brief period, life seemed to regain its natural balance.

But in December, a frightening realization appeared. I could not walk from my bed to the bathroom without leaning on pieces of furniture situated along the way. Soon afterward, I bought a used cane at a Salvation Army store in the area.

My return to the realm of hobbling souls was complete.

Morning and night proved the most difficult to navigate. At those times of the day, arthritis made any kind of movement difficult. In between, I managed to get through my work routine unassisted.

Still, I wondered about the future. How long could this dance around disability last?
The New Year brought a reprieve of sorts. There was extra time off to recuperate. Things looked better as January arrived.

Then, I began to ponder about famous characters who had used a cane or walking stick. Most obvious was television icon Dr. Gregory House, played by Hugh Laurie. But soon, I had compiled a list of many others, both real and imaginary:

Jack White
Snoop Dogg
David Beckham
John Steed (Avengers)
Art Carney
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Ulysses S. Grant
Pope John Paul II
Oscar Wilde
George Bernard Shaw
Sherlock Holmes
Queen Victoria
Brigham Young
Lord Byron

Further research about canes revealed that they were crafted in days of yore to include retractable maps, fans, glove holders, tobacco lighters, whiskey flasks, umbrellas, golf clubs, violins, rulers, surgical gadgets and even onboard firearms.
After reading about these sophisticated devices, my own seemed plain by comparison.
The cane I bought was an Invacare model, number 1048112. Designed with a cam-lever and snap buttons, it offered a range of height adjustment that was perfect for daily use. This implement carried a tubular metal body, with hospital-grade rubber for the handle and tip. It supported my weight dutifully.

A bargain at the price of $3.99.

Still, the thought of having a Remington model that could shoot bullets in self-defense seemed more daring, if not quite so sensible.

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