We have all heard of “learning at someone’s knee,” but I’m talking about learning from my knee, my left knee to be precise.
You see, my left knee has developed arthritis. (Fortunately, it’s osteoarthritis not rheumatoid arthritis.) It started hurting last summer and I thought I’d just ignore it and it would go away. (The pain, not the knee.) To tell the truth, I avoided talking to my doctor about it because I was afraid he’d tell me it was arthritis. Dumb? Dumb.
So, finally, last fall, I consulted my primary care doctor who referred me to an orthopedic doctor who diagnosed me with . . . arthritis! But like most good doctors he recommended conservative treatment, first a cortisone shot, then arthroscopic surgery, then, if no relief, total knee replacement.
Total knee replacement? No way. Not me. I’ll be fine.
But the conservative approaches didn’t work, and the pain kept getting worse, so I decided to seek a second opinion. Second opinion: total knee replacement.
By this time it’s spring, and we have a family vacation planned. Given the doctor’s schedule and our vacation plans, no new knee until the middle of June. But I will get a new knee.
Now, lessons learned:
- It’s really dumb to avoid seeking medical help because you are afraid of what the diagnosis might be.
- Pain will win over pride. When discussing how to deal with the sore knee, the doctor said walking with a cane would help. No way. I’m not going to hobble around like an old man with a cane. Wrong! The cane helps.
- If you are going to have to have a cane, get a classy one. I didn’t want to get a cheap, old man cane. I couldn’t afford a classy antique cane. So, I asked my son, Glenn, to make me one. I now have the coolest cane in town.
- Drugs are not the answer. When over-the-counter pain medicine didn’t give me the relief I wanted, I tried prescription pain medication. The pain was tolerable, but who was I? I slept most of the time, and when I was awake I felt groggy. No way. I’d rather be me in pain than some zombie whose knee doesn’t hurt. Now with a combination of Tylenol, Ben Gay, a cane, and adjusting my activities, I have achieved a level of pain I can live with.
The family vacation is coming up; it’s only six weeks until I get my bionic knee. In the meantime, in the words of the concluding number of the “Great American Trailer Park Musical” that I saw at Topeka Civic Theatre last week, I’ll “Just make like a nail and press on.”