Thursday, August 20, 2009

a leg up

i'm not as tough as i thought.

i'm not happy about it, but there it is.

7 days post-op, and it still feels like i've been kicked hard in the shin. and the calf. and the thigh. and the other side of the thigh.

the surgery was on some very specific areas of the knee, but the pain extends above, below, and all the way around.

i thought it'd be no big deal, but i was, um, mistaken.

file that under "unrealistic expectations."

during the procedure i asked the surgeon about the prospect of taking a long walk to the farmer's market the next morning. he was amused. "not gonna happen," he said. "this is real surgery. you're gonna feel it."

c'mon, i thought. how bad could it be?

he was right. i felt it. i'm still feeling it.

during my first follow-up, recalling my question, he kindly said, "i have the benefit of about 3,300 of these operations to tell me what's possible and by when. you have one."

i'm learning some important lessons lately about assumptions and conclusions and the perils of putting too much stock in the things we think we "know." previously, i knew i'd be able to walk to the farmer's market. i knew i'd be back in the office this week. i knew that 10 days post-op i'd be pedaling around orcas island on my mountain bike.

i misjudged.

the good news is, i'm not paying too steep a price for these particular misjudgements. i simply didn't take the walk. i'm simply not back in the office. the mountain bikes will be staying at home. the bad news is, i'm not quite sure what to do differently.

because there have been other conclusions drawn and concordant decisions made recently that could've gone upside-down in a big way.

that they didn't, that what i "knew" turned out to be an utter falsehood, somehow didn't end up costing me dearly. but it could have. oh, my yes. in a no-kidding, life-altering kind of way.

instead, the god of ruination passed me by--pausing just long enough to look me up and down as if contemplating whether i was worth troubling with. apparently i was not. this time.

file that under "the random luck of the foolish."

let's review: physically fragile, intellectually challenged, yet still the beneficiary of capricious variables.

it's times like these i realize that (no matter how hard i try) i will never have any meaningful grasp of the metaphysics of physics, and that life itself is mind-numbing, head-shaking exercise in illogic.

file that under "time for beer."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

who can say?

More fever-fired or percocet-beweirded dreams.

Dutifully reported via iPod touch.

Friday, August 14, 2009

it's funny. really.

i'm laying here contemplating the many (many) ways I was wrong about the pain.

the exquisite permutations and the subtle, nuanced shades of it. the sweetly smiling, scalpel-smooth caress of it. the steely, unblinking caleidoscope of it, patiently shifting from the serrated to the sublime.

it's hilarious, really, how wrong I was.

oh, and the knee kinda hurts, too.

well. that was fun.

just yesterday I was doing squats and toe-raises and dead lifts.

It felt good, too. I felt strong. for a guy working with one ACL, that is.

Today it's a different story. Today I have two ACLs. Make that one original part, and one patellar tendon graft.

And no prospect of doing anything similar to yesterday's workout any time soon.

Don't feel sorry for me, however. I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm one of the ridiculously fortunate who can tear up a knee and get it fixed without worrying about going bankrupt in the process.

mrs. spaceneedl's company has great healthcare insurance. as if that weren't enough, spaceneedl sprockets also has excellent coverage. so if things were to go sideways for the missus, employment-wise, the needls would still be in the pink, Cadillac-coverage-wise.

tens of millions of Americans are nowhere near as fortunate. I'm contemplating that sad fact while laying here with a reconstruction job that is truly a medical miracle. and while watching information-challenged people shouting at the top of their lungs that they don't want such a thing, and they don't want the tens of millions to have it, either.

they like things just the way they are, these defenders of an insurance industry that would as soon disenroll them as look at them (or have a doctor look at them). these misled, who are themselves one healthcare mishap from ruin.

from that perspective, it's funny, really. isn't it?

you know what else is fun? the insurance-covered continuous passive motion (cpm) machine my leg is strapped into right now. it gently flexes the knee for me, maintaining the range of motion, and i'm supposed to use it 3+ hours a day for the next two weeks.

currently it's set to inflict a mere 50 degrees of flex (normal for me is about 135 degrees). but even that is borderline too much. it's right on the edge of tolerable. i'm sweating ever-so-slightly due to the almost-too-muchness.


this. is. fun.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

casual upside

it's a relief, in a way.

for years i quietly dreaded the possibility that i'd tear up a knee playing basketball.

i didn't dread it enough to stop playing, mind you, but that low undercurrent of anxiety was always there.

now that it's done, the reality is i've been much more fortunate than most who tear an ACL. it hasn't hurt all that much. it didn't swell up, and i've lost very little range of motion.

even the grotesque sensation of instability has mostly gone away. occasionally the femur goes one direction and tibia goes another, and that's kind of sickening. but as long as i keep my forward motion in a straight line, the knee stays underneath me, and it's all good.

but none of that describes the relief i'm talking about.

which is that the injury gives me a good excuse not to run.

full disclosure: i don't like running. never have. i've done it for years, but usually out of a sense of obligation. kinda like eating broccoli. it's good for me, therefore i do it. eventually i learned to like broccoli. the running, not so much.

now, according to the surgeon, i have a legit medical reason not to run for a good nine months post-op. we'll pause here for a brief message from our sponsor:


over the years there have been other injuries, other times when i'd watch runners go by and be envious. i'd feel a deep, irrational need to get back out there amongst them immediately.

this is not one of those times.

maybe it's the wisdom of old age...or maybe it's just old age. maybe it's temporary. or maybe my new bike will replace the countless pairs of running shoes and basketball shoes that have come and gone.

oh, yeah...the basketball is now an open question as well. mrs. spaceneedl is lobbying for a long-term cessation of that activity. she raises an eyebrow and says, "is it worth the risk that you'd have to go through this again?"

that's not a particularly good argument--is driving worth the risk that i might get in a multi-car pile up? is scuba diving worth the risk i might get nibbled by a shark?

but here's the thing (and i'm a little embarrassed to admit it): basketball isn't as much fun as it used to be. mostly because i'm not as good as i used to be. not that i was ever "good", but i used to be better. and playing bad basketball is not much fun. it's a little chastening, in fact. i don't care to be chastened. it doesn't suit me.

so my answer has been, "we'll see." and we will. but first things first.

there must be cutting on the knee before there can be cutting on the court. there will follow months of rehab before there can be any more rebounding.

and there's the little detail of actually getting back in basketball shape, which is not an easy thing.

lateral mobility vs. collateral damage. worth it? we'll see.

in the meantime, i'm gong to keep one foot on the ground at all times, and learn to appreciate the low-impact alternatives to running.

doctor's orders, you know...