The Knee

Today I’m having my second surgery on my right knee. The first was 11 years ago–about a year after the first injury–and cleaned up some cartilage I tore off the knee cap. Today, they will be removing portions of my torn meniscus to prevent locking and buckling. Eventually the knee will need to be replaced, not until I’m older (to minimize the possibility of replacing the replacement later).

This is one of the few injuries that I’ve experienced while doing something stupid. Most have occurred as a result of every day life, clumsiness or Murphy. Because of all of these accidents, I frequently hear “You need to just stay inside and have someone else do that”. I understand the sentiment, but it’s not really a feasible thing to do. While I do seem to be more accident prone than most, there’s really not a lot I can do to eliminate all possible accidents.

Man Hands

Unfortunately, I’m not in a position or of means where I could just hire out every task that needs completed. I have never even imagined myself ever getting to that point and even if I did, I’m too “hands-on” to really do it. Growing up, I always looked in wonder at my dad’s hands. They weren’t soft, smooth or unblemished as mine. Rather, they were scarred and calloused–MAN hands I always called them. I wanted to grow up and have my kids be able to look at my hands and say, “Dad worked hard”. My chosen profession hasn’t given me those type of hands as my tools of trade are a keyboard and mouse where dad’s were molten lead, presses, offset printers, etc.

When I was 15 and earned my first scar with the Famous Toilet Incident, I was elated! Not because I had permanently damaged my finger, but because I could point to a place on my hand and say, “I got this, doing this.” Fast forward 25 years and I have added several more scars–not from computering, but from hard “manly” work.

Work vs Play

In contrast to many of my “battle scars” (13 broken bones, severed ligaments, damaged tendons, etc), the right knee is a constant reminder be ME, and not try to be someone I’m not. I tore the knee up the first time trying to impress a younger woman who thought  little of my athletic ability or “youthfulness”. (She told me I was old) The only thing I accomplished was to prove her right–I was “old” and not very athletic.

I’ve always been a big guy and aside from 9 years of soccer and an occasional backyard football game, not very athletic. My 9 years in soccer saw me spend 7 of them in the goal box and while goalies must be fast, strong and mobile, I used my intelligence to compensate for lack of the the other. The knee reminds me that I’m not the guy that’s going to go out wow you with my athletic prowess, but I can work you under the table. (More about work in a later post)

Lessons Learned

From a very early age, we’ve all learned lessons–many of which were directly tied to some sort of pain. Why don’t we touch hot stove burners? Because it hurts and we know that because we’ve probably been burned once or twice. Why don’t we throw temper tantrums when we don’t get our way? (Ok, some of us still do from time to time) Because we probably got a spanking for doing it once.

And so it is with my knee (or quite frankly all of my injuries). Since that day, I learned not to try to be someone I’m not to impress someone who is looking for something else. I am reminded of that lesson daily from the lingering pain in my knee. I’ll also be kicking myself in 20 years or so when I have to get a new knee installed.

As for the other injuries, those will keep occurring. Why? Because there’s work to be done and who will do it if I don’t?



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