The novel coronavirus with associated pandemic had, and continues to have, disastrous effects all around the world. Lives have been lost, many small businesses have failed, proms and graduations have been cancelled, weddings postponed. Schools are hopelessly tangled with online and/or in person classes, parents pulling out their hair in chunks (parents’ hair, not children’s). Healthcare is stretched to its maximum capability and beyond. But this blog’s mission statement, such as it is, is to find a bit of humor in any mundane circumstance to get us through another day. So, let’s get to it!
2020 was to be a year of travel and adventure for me and many of my newly-retired baby boomer companions. Sign me up! I was undeterred by traveling as a party of one. I had confidence that friends would include me in their expeditions. Plus, I have two grown children and two teen-aged granddaughters, any one of whom might be coerced (guilt tripped, threatened, whatever) into accompanying me on a few brief excursions. Except to Machu Picchu. Although it is (was) an extremely popular tourist destination, I never could see the fascination of climbing a bunch of steps. Had I been mistaken for a mountain goat?
As the year passed, virus-imposed conditions for travel and adventure got more and more severe. I’ve always been an Olympic class worrier, and I started to be concerned that I had reached the peak of my health and stamina, and it would be all downhill from here, limiting travel options. Re downhill concept, I did bounce down a steep slope on my derrière (French for butt) and suffer a compression fracture of T8, but that could have happened to anyone of any age. Although a touch of osteopenia might have contributed just a tad. Nonsense. So, physical difficulty with clear cause and effect was not a sign of deterioration.
Yet all of a sudden; no injury, no twisting, no skiing, no vicious games of tennis (ha); my left knee hurt. A lot. This was ridiculous. The pain persisted for several days, and I decided to seek professional help. My ever-patient (har!) PCP ordered an x-ray of my knee. Why not go straight to MRI, I wondered. Note here, of all the medical/surgical specialties, I know the very least about orthopedics. Short on knowledge, long on opinions. My x-ray findings seemed incredibly bland to me. I demand a second opinion (not really, but I thought about it). There was some mention of fluid accumulation. I had considered that, and had tentatively poked at a bulge close to my kneecap that might have been fluid. There was no reciprocal bulge on the opposite side of the joint, so it seemed that I was just poking at a bulge of fat. Rats. What a disappointment.
As the x-ray had not shown anything definitive, I was referred to an orthopedic surgeon. I thought this might be a good time for an MRI. But that wasn’t mentioned. Fine. I sat in one of the surgeon’s examining rooms long enough to study a plastic model of a knee joint that included bones and ligaments. The base on which the model was placed included a key for the identification of the various structures. “A” was the femur, “B” was the tibia, “C” was the fibula; on and on. But I carefully examined the model again, and there was no corresponding “A,” “B,” or “C” etc. on the plastic structures. What? An outrage! The doctor’s office had been cheated.
At this time the orthopedic surgeon came in, introduced himself, examined my knee, and reviewed the x-ray. Before I even had time to draw his attention to the defective model, he pointed out a few abnormalities on my film. There was some thinning of the medial meniscus, joint effusion, osteopenia, other stuff. My medial meniscus was the only body part that had undergone thinning, that’s for sure. Now, what was to be done about all this pain? I was so baffled about the apparent lack of cause to explain the effect, I lost my concentration on what he was saying. The unpleasant truth of the cause seemed to be age-related.
Now. What is next? Was it at last time for an MRI? I thought this would be the next topic he would introduce, but no. That was totally not indicated in my case. And would have been a needless waste of healthcare dollars. Time for me to abandon that idea. I tried to rearrange my thoughts as he made a few more remarks, when the words “knee replacement” caught my attention. What? Yikes! You can’t be serious? But the context of those words clarified that was certainly not a possibility at this time.
How about a cortisone injection into the joint? Again, What? Ack! I was still waiting to hear about an MRI. In retrospect I should have agreed to the injection then and there, but I opted to try anti-inflammatory medication. I limped out of the office, sturdy new elastic brace (black, my signature color) strapped in place. I’ll call his office soon and lock in an appointment for the procedure.
Pray for me.
And for all others whose troubles make mine look minuscule in comparison.