I’ve been waiting 36 years to make this post. Let’s start at the very beginning. Gruesome details follow. You have been warned.
Back in 1984, I had a rather massive bicycle crash that sent me sprawling over a sidewalk and several feet farther onto an asphalt parking lot. The bicycle, my sister’s ten-speed which I’d borrowed to get to a Drum Corps rehearsal (Houston Nighthawks), had serrated pedals designed to grip onto your shoes. I, on the other hand, was wearing a pair of Sperry Top-Siders with no socks, as was the fashion of the day. As a result, when I landed, the right pedal slipped and gripped instead into the top of my foot, tearing a gash downward toward the tendons. The crash also caused collateral damage of which I was unaware at the time, since I was distracted by the profuse bleeding filling up my right shoe.
To my great fortune, the pastor of a church located directly across from the accident scene witnessed my wreck and helped me out. I was going into mild shock as he brought me to the home of the Nighthawks’ director, who immediately took me to the nearest hospital. I was given six stitches beneath the skin and 14 above to seal the tear in the top of my right foot.
A few days later, I hobbled on board the Nighthawks’ tour bus for our final trip of the season, beginning with a stop in Dallas. As we entered the city, my left knee quite literally swelled up to the size of a basketball. The pain was unbelievable. I remember a brief conversation with our corps director, who asked if I could put up with the pain (“no, not really” was my answer, I think), but I remember very little from the remainder of that evening. I performed the last three shows of our corps’ existence, the final two with the aid of a wheelchair. My right foot healed, but my left knee did not.
I had arthroscopic surgery performed later that year on my left knee. It was less than successful – I was stuck with a cane for a year. In the years that have followed up to the present day, I have been off and on a cane, had medicines injected into my knee, undergone physical therapy, been placed on chronic pain management, and most recently been through another arthroscopic procedure.
Now, at long last, I have been given the prospect of real pain relief. A knee surgeon has agreed to do a total knee replacement of my left knee. Unlike the photo I’ve used for this post, my patella (kneecap) will also be replaced, since it is one of the worst causes of pain in my knee.
I’ve still got about a month to go before the surgery, which will be performed as an inpatient procedure, requiring a stay of two days after the operation. I’m going to have to undergo a lot of physical therapy, with the early stages likely more painful than what I’m experiencing now. There is a light at the end of the pain tunnel, though. If things go the way they should, I will eventually experience much less pain than I do now, with the possibility of little to no pain after 18 months’ time.
Despite the outlook of increased pain immediately following the operation, I’m looking forward to it. I know the pain won’t be permanent, and if I work hard enough, it may go away entirely. I can’t resist an outcome like that.
I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how things go. Please wish me luck.