Monthly Archives: April 2010


I’ve gotten a little feedback from the last e-mail I sent out. Some of you thought I sounded very depressed and offered me reassurance that life would go on. Some of you thought I was whining too much, and tried to bring me back to reality. But some of you took it for what I meant it to be…a poke of fun at us Trilanders (and I’m as guilty as anyone) on how we react to temporary injuries or, more to the point, permanent changes that we will have to adapt to. At any rate, I found out that more than one or two of you read this drivel, so I’ll continue writing.

I went back to the doctor this morning and it was just like a repeat of a week ago. “That’s one big knee…a lot bigger than the other one. Let’s take some fluid off. You’ll feel much better”. I told him the procedure ranked third in the list of the health care procedures I hate, behind (no pun intended) 1) The “night before” prep for a colonoscopy, 2) A prostate exam when I had prostititis. Drawing out the fluid really didn’t hurt all that much, but it wasn’t a skip in the park either. I think I was playing it up so I would sound like more of a he-man for gritting my teeth and taking it. Actually I was not so much concerned about the procedure, but the nagging pain afterward. It doesn’t hurt in that stabbing pain sense, but in that toothache in the background sense.

As I was watching Dr. Merriman do the procedure, I thought back to all those times he would come into my office to pick up his taxes and I would say “Here’s what you owe”. I wondered if, in the back of his mind, he was thinking “Now you know how I felt. Here’s what you owe…bam!”

Of course, that wasn’t the only thing I did today. At the cottage, for the past couple of days, I’ve seen a drip of water on my workbench. I called a plumber and I had to meet him right after the doctor’s appointment. I thought, originally, that the drip was coming from the small water feed to the icemaker. When I looked at it closer, it was from the sink/dishwasher area. With the knee problem, I couldn’t tell him exactly where it was coming from. Now, $197.00 later, there is no drip. Will someone please buy this cottage and save me some money?

If that wasn’t enough, I had physical therapy at 3 PM. I know what they need to do, and I know it’s going to hurt. I need to strengthen the muscles on that right knee/quad area and I need to improve my range of motion. Both require exercises and stretches that push the limit of what I think I can do. The therapists are very nice, and I can see that they empathize, but they know it will pay off in the end. With the knee pain, and the pain from physical therapy, there are times I wonder if I would have been better off doing nothing, and limping for the rest of my life. Uhhhhh, NO!!!

So here I am writing another e-mail for therapy. Partially for my own mental health, but it gives me a chance to sit here resting, drinking a Bell’s Porter. I wonder if Dr. Merriman would approve of beer and vicadin? I’m not going to ask him and don’t any of you ask for me!

Just (Ready To Get Back To Whatever Normal Is) Jack

Do You Hear The Doors Closing?

You all probably know about the knee trouble I’ve been having, and many of you know I had it scoped last Wednesday. I’ve filled some of you in on my progress since the surgery, but many of you are in the dark. If you want to stay that way, don’t read on.

The surgery went well (I slept through it), but not as I had initially expected. I knew I had a torn meniscus and the doctor would use the scope to take out the “ragged edges”. He tells me that we talked after the surgery, but I don’t remember a bit of it. Jean was there and passed on what the doctor said, but the details weren’t all that important to her, and she didn’t understand the technical terms. So all I knew was that the knee was worse than he expected. They told me that, during the surgery, while wrenching the knee into and out of position, my MCL (medial collateral ligament) tore. It happens in about 20% of the cases (why can’t I be in the 80%group?).

After I went home, the doctor prescribed a “knee machine” that straightens and flexes the knee to 60 degrees, over and over and over and over and…you get the picture. I have to be on that machine six to eight hours a day. This past week I didn’t feel like dancing around so it hasn’t been that difficult. But now that I’m feeling better, I’m BORED! As time went on, my right quadricep kept getting more and more sore. It was very painful until mid-day Tuesday, and it seemed to turn the corner, so it feels a little better. I’ve attached a picture, and the picture may not do it justice. It’s swollen and black and blue, turning shades of yellow and green. Disgusting!

Bill Bradley just stopped by…now where was I?

So I went to the doctor’s office today and got the answers to lots of questions. Without going into too much detail, the answers were:…I’ve never seen so much bruising in the quadricep from a knee scope…that knee looks like it has more fluid than I like to see; let’s suck some of that out of there…it doesn’t hurt any more than a cortisone shot to the knee would without the anesthetic…I think you need to wear a compression thigh-high stocking; it’s not going to be a fashion statement…No one should run; it’s hard on the joints…You have a complete cartilage loss beneath the patella and femoral tendon (lay terms, not medical terms) …I’d like to see you in rehab (I hope for the knee and not drying out from too much homebrew) a couple days a week…I’d like you to keep using the knee machine for a couple more weeks; more than six hours a day if you can stand it.

I just got a lengthy phone call…what did I miss?

So that brings me to the subject of the e-mail. One (or more) of our Trilanders always ends her e-mails with “Anything is possible”. When you’re young, that’s true. But as you get older, doors of opportunity start closing. Some close in a legal way. I can’t enlist in the military at my age and no, I don’t want to. I can’t play in the play room at McDonalds and I don’t want to do that either. Some close by simple logic. I could enroll in medical school, but my chances, at age 63, of getting accepted are nearly zero. And, if by some computer error, I was accepted, my chances of getting through on social security income would also be next to zero.

So as time passes, the doors close, and we’re usually satisfied to let that happen. It’s “the way things are”, so get used to it. Sometimes, others tell us that a door is closing and we fight it happening. I’m, in a way, at that point on my running and biking. The doctor has told me that I can run, but it’s a 63 year old knee. And if it hurts, I should stop running or stop biking. That leaves me three options.

Acceptance – this choice has two branches. One is to accept that you can’t do something, and stop doing it. The constructive way is to decide what you can do, and replace the activity you can’t do any more. Don’t send me any suggestions. I don’t want to learn to knit. I don’t want to join your bowling league. If I choose this path, I’ll find something for myself. I just hope it’s not skydiving. The second branch is to, on the outside, say you’re going to keep doing whatever you want, but on the inside, you know you’re done. You may kick and scream for a while, but the inevitable will happen and you’ll revert to the first branch.

Denial – this choice is the favorite of the Trilanders. We’re all reasonably intelligent, but when the doctor says one thing, we hear something totally different. We justify it by saying, “Just because they call them doctors, they don’t know everything!”. Or, “The doctor told me I can’t (fill in the blank), but he’s talking about average people, and I’m not average”. Or, “He just doesn’t know me well enough. I can do it, I know I can.” So we fool ourselves into thinking that we are invincible, but we eventually end up at the doctor’s office again. We can go through denial again (some of us have been on that loop several times), or we can go directly to acceptance like we should have in the first place.

Defiance – this choice comes from our macho image that we think we have to uphold, or a testosterone overload that we can’t keep under control. Our reaction is, “You say I can’t (fill in the blank), just watch me!” Or, “You may be done (fill in the blank), but I’m not”. We usually don’t realize that, by choosing this option, we have to be willing to pay the consequences, and there will be consequences. We can repeat this option over and over, but it inevitably ends back up at acceptance (or total knee, total hip, etc).

I wonder which option I’ll choose. Logic tells me that I’ll end up at acceptance anyway, so why fight it? But, believe it or not, my life choices haven’t always been logical. Hmmm!?

Just (After The Doctor’s Office I Think I Need More Vicodin Please) Jack



Again, for those of you who are still in the dark ages (prior to 2009), and still have dial up internet, I apologize for the time it takes to download an e-mail with a picture. I’ve been quite silent lately on the e-mails, due more to my bad mood than not having anything to write about. The bad mood may be related to a family funeral recently, or it may be related to living out of a suitcase longer than I like, or having a sore butt from driving around the country, or from this knee I’m going to have scoped on Wednesday, or due to the three checks I had to write this morning after completing our taxes for 2009, or from the credit card bills that came after our trips across America, or _________ (fill in the blank). But sometimes you have to get something out that’s “sticking in your craw” to be able to sleep at night. And sometimes it’s just something that tickles your funny-bone that you have to share. This is one of those things that made me laugh. If you don’t think it’s funny, I don’t care. It’s my story.

After the Easter weekend, with no kids able to come to dinner other than our oldest daughter, Becky, Jean and I were sitting on the deck chit-chatting, having a homebrew and some wine. Jean decided to make her favorite meal, and one of my least favorites, pork steak. It’s kind of like the old “Jack Sprat could eat no fat” nursery rhyme, except when you saw the graphics in the childrens’ book, Jack was skinny and his wife was fat. I can’t stand a “fatty” piece of meat, and Jean loves the fat on meat saying it gives it great flavor. The difference is, that in the real picture, not the nursery rhyme book, Jean is the skinny one and I’m the guy who has to buy his clothes in the “big and husky” department of Macy’s.

Jean put the pork steaks on the grill and we sat for a while solving everyone else’s problems. She opened the grill cover, and there was a flame from the fat (she said she had bought them lean with no fat on them) on one of the steaks, but not the other. When she turned them, she realized that on the one that had no flame, she missed taking off the maxi-pad they put in meat packages to soak up the blood that leeches out in the package. If you could see the picture, the pad appeared to be done, so she peeled it off and set it aside. It takes me back to the family holiday dinner when she left a spoon in the bottom of the jello dish, covered by cut up bananas, and put it in the refrigerator to set overnight. I fould it the next day when my spoon “clinked” as I was scooping out some jello. With these kinds of cooking faux pas, you’re probably asking yourselves, “Jack, how did you get so fat?” If you have any friends or family members that have trouble putting on weight after an illness, send them over for a few days and they can learn from a master.

On a different subject, Diane Ebaugh had the run at her place yesterday. I walked, probably my last walk before the knee gets scoped on Wednesday. I was walking a three mile loop when I happened upon a school of five or six suckers (a kind of fish for you city slickers) that had been run over by a car. They have eyes on both sides of their heads, so you would think they could see the cars coming. That part of the road is thirty feet above Algonquin Lake’s water level. I know the water got high this spring, but not that high!

After the run we sat around talking about everyone who wasn’t there. It was a small group since everyone who is anyone was on spring break or home with their families. I’m a little hard of hearing, but I thought I heard the other table talking about Margie Moore working in the emergency room of the hospital. I kept hearing about Maggie, and wondered who that was. It became apparent, the more I heard, that Maggie was the alter-ego of Margie. Margie was the calm, kindly clerk who never let anything bother her, and Maggie was the one who seethed inside when someone called, when the ER was inundated, asking where they could dispose of their thermometer that contained mercury. It got worse when Maggie told them they could call the health department, and the caller asked, “Do you have their number?”

Do any of you have one of those little bells that I could have by the couch, so while I’m recovering this next week and need something, I can ring it and Jean will come running?

Just (Trying To Stop My Checkbook From Bleeding) Jack