Thursday, January 01, 2004

This story actually begins in ...

Knee-minus-34-plus years: 1969
I was playing touch football in phys ed, and I was one of the big slow guys on the offensive line. I was head-to-head with another big guy on the defensive line and he beat me off the snap. I got pushed back, and as I was pushing off into loose gravel, I twisted my right knee and fell down. Upon getting back up, I discovered that couldn’t straighten out my right knee, nor could I put much weight on it. The gym teacher said “Go walk it off”. So I limped around the track, headed into the locker room, took a shower, and ran through the remainder of the school day as if nothing had happened. Except that my knee ached.

Two weeks later, we were playing basketball in gym class. I went up for a rebound, came down and pivoted on my right leg. There was a CRACK like a rifle shot as I fell to the floor. It was the ACL snapping that sounded like a rifle shot. I could not move. I was carried down to locker room. My mom took me to our family physician who diagnosed the injury as a probable torn cartilage. He set up an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon who decided to repair the MMC and the ACL.

This was in 1969. Pre-arthroscopy. MMC, ACL repair surgery and recovery meant a 14 day stay in the hospital. Those of you who have only dealt with arthroscopy, you just don't know how gruesome knee surgery used to be.

Four years later (winter, 1973), my right knee locked up as I was walking across campus, and could not walk. Apparently, I had also torn the lateral meniscus in the original injury, and calcification around the tear produced a lump that locked the knee in place. I took off a semester from college for the second surgery and recovery. This was quite serendipitous, since I made up that semester during the summer of 1974, and met the woman who would later become my wife.