Friday, June 29, 2007

Gunfighter Needs Surgery

You might remember that I spent some time serving our country in the Marine Corps. You might further remember that I mentioned that I was in the Infantry in those days. I am certain that you know that my service is a point of great pride for me.

Well, being a member of an elite band of unstoppable killers has a price, ladies and gentlemen. That price, when not the ultimate price, is often the early decrepitude, if not destruction of the major joints.

Old infantrymen like myself frequently have back, shoulder, ankle, neck, and knee injuries because of the things that we used to do with great frequency.

From Fast-Roping out of helicopters...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket forced marches of distances greater than 25 miles carrying nearly my own body- weight in equipment...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket frequent sessions of distance running on paved roads... wearing boots.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(Like this... but wearing combat boots)

Of course, back in those days, I was quite studly and fit...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

But it has been quite some time since my Marine Corps days... and I don't really look like that any more.

As a matter of fact yours truly is just to darned old to do these things now... not that I would if I could, that crap is for the young 'uns.

I have been enduring problematic knees (and back) since I got out of the service those many years ago. On good days my knees hurt. On bad days my knees REALLY hurt. Last weekend, it got even worse.

There I was, in church, I was serving as worship assistant for the day (which means I help with communion, read some of the prayers, etc...) and was sitting at the front of the church. During one part of the service, I had to stand and read and boy oh boy, did I get that stabbing ice-pick-under-the-kneecap sort of pain that has never hurt that badly before.


I bit down on the expletive that almost came out of my mouth and manfully did my part. When the service ended, we went out to lunch as we normally do. When I got up from the table, it happened again. It was getting rapidly worse... it even hurt to drive.

I went to the doctor on Monday, who proceeded to manipulate my knee to the point where I was about to punch him in his Canadian head! Naturally, he sent me to the orthopaedist... That's where I went today.

The Ortho Doc was pretty good... this guy treats a lot of local college athletes, as well as competitive ice-skaters. He did a series of x-rays, which revealed.... knees that are in pretty good shape... for a guy my size... and my age. The problem was that there is a major bone spur on my kneecap.

I need surgery.

OK. Fine. I'm not a chicken. "How soon can we make this happen?" I asked directly. "Tuesday" he shot back, equally directly. I like this guy. He doesn't bullshit around (look Heather, no ass-ter-isk).

I then asked him how long I would limp about after surgery before I began some semblance of normalcy. He said six weeks. In my head, I was counting the weeks to our vacation... arriving at.... six weeks. I told him as much, and he said... "well, if you are going to Disney world (his wife and seven year old adopted-from-China daughter just returned last week), we had better wait until you get back, and do this in September" See why I like this guy?

In order to address my pain, I got a Cortisone shot in the knee. I'll get another one a few days before vacation, to keep the edge off, and that is when I'll schedule the surgery.

In the waiting room, I spent some time talking to a fellow old warrior, this guy was an old Navy Seal and was in his mid fifties. We laughed, while we tried to refrain from wincing in pain from time to time, about our military exploits... and how they were likely to be responsible for our current condition. We talked of where we had been , and what ships we had served on. It was pleasant. I was finished first, and we parted with a handshake and a "see you in the fleet, shipmate!" And that was that.

I thought the Cortisone shot would have hurt more... but I think that I am impervious to most low-grade pain now.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket



Jenn in Holland said...

swoot-swoo! A gunfighter knee! Be still my heart....

Sorry about the knee pain GF. That realization of age and bodies wearing down is not a pleasant one. I hope the cortisone will help you get by until surgery time. You are a stud, I think cortisone shots hurt. But maybe that's because I only handle things girlishly instead of manfully.... I don't know.

Anyway, here's hoping that you feel well enough to stride around Disneyland and have a grand old time.

Are they opening you all the way up, or is this orthoscopic?

Gunfighter said...

Hiya Jenn,

This is going to go beyond orthoscopic... so it will be the full flap.

The cortisone worked like a charm. It made me realise that I have been walking with the slightest hitch in my giddayup for a few years now... and I didn't have to hobble up the stairs, which was really great!

Lollie said...

Oooh - knee surgeries - yeah...I've had two. And probably need another on th eother knee. Mine was not though heavy artillery lugging and the sort but of a lighter nature. Ballerina. Thirteen years. Plenty detrimental.

Thanks for visiting my blog - isn't Whiskeymarie a hoot?!

Mamma said...

Whoo, hooo!! Seexxxxy knee.

Sorry about the pain. The description of the surgery made MY knees weak.

jessabean said...

Ouch! Knee surgery sounds yucky.

But I'm glad they give you cortisone, and maybe you'll get some fun drugs after surgery, too. I can only imagine what Gunfighter would post while high on narcotics. Wooo!

Brillig said...

I've spent my fair share of time at the orthopedic doc's place too lately, for knee trouble. But mine won't require surgery. I was, of course, relieved, though my inner drama queen was a tad disappointed.

I'm glad that they'll be able to fix this for you now. Good luck with it all, and DO post while you're still drugged up, okay? That would really make us all so happy.

PT-LawMom said...

That cartoon made me laugh out loud!! Sorry you're hurting. My mom has bone-on-bone arthritis in her right knee and needs a total replacement. She refuses (thinks she's too young and doesn't want to do it twice) so she lives in pain every day. We've recently found something that really helps! Biofreeze spray is like a miracle drug. The best deal I've found is on through eGeneralMedical. My Grandad used it when he was hospitalized with cancer metastisized in his bones throughout his body and it was the only thing that brought him some relief. HTH!

soccer mom in denial said...

Ow! Ow! Ow! And I've given birth without pain medicine (not by choice mind you). This sounds horrible.

And is our miltary paying for this? Do they acknowledge these types of long-term health issues decades after service has ended?

Thank you for what you have done for our country.


Gunfighter said...

Thanks all!

I ewill try to remember this in September... I hear the drugs are pretty cool, so interesting posts may follow immediately after the surgery.


To tell you the truth, I could probably coerce Uncle Sam to pay for this... but I won't. I'd feel like shit for asking for something like this, earned or not, when all of these young people are coming home maimed.

No need to thank me, sweetie. I was just doing my job.

Anne said...

Oh, sympathy! This is why when we ask the blessing at meals, we need to alter the words sometimes so they say, "Make us ever mindful of the knees of others."

The saga of my knees is too dreary to relate here, but I have one word of wisdom, and it's RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Between now and Disney Day, spend as much time as you can on your behind in your Barcolounger with the knee up on a pillow and an ice pack on it. It'll pay dividends when it comes to taking a trip like that.

Tsiporah said...

Sorry to hear about the impending surgery, but as a fellow veteren (Army)I am afraid I may be headed in that direction eventually myself one day.

Jenn said...

Yow. Knees are so easily damaged. And a bone spur. Double yow. It won't grow back after being removed will it?

Good luck. I hope they give you some good medication.

Fourier Analyst said...

After helping my Mom with 2 replacement surgeries after many years of shots, medicines, physio, etc. I almost feel like I've been thru the ordeals myself (though my time is coming based on the arthritis I already have). Along with the RICE treatments I offer my Disneyworld experience...sit whenever you can. The temptation in waiting in line is to stand there and brave it out. DON'T! Even when you are not tired, give your knee a break. Especially with bone spurs, standing is worse than walking. Once you get going and get the juices flowing, it eases up. And while your are sitting, flex your knee to help lubricate the joint. This helps to mollify the standing pain that you describe. Good luck and have fun in Mouseworld!

Charming Driver said...

My parents (my dad is a 26 yr USN vet) have had probably half a dozen knee operations between them (my mom had both replaced; the first went BEAUTIFULLY while the second had massive infection and other problems that required several ''do-overs'') and my only advice is this: The cortisone shots are a terrific stop-gap to get you through until vacation but please please please please don't delay the surgery longer than necessary. The cortisone shots are great for the symptoms but sadly aren't a cure.

Enjoy the vacation and feel better in the meantime!

Heather said...

Sorry about the knee stuff. That stinks.

Just have to say thanks for the military service. I am from a long line of military men. I thank anyone who is in the military, has been, or is a relative.

It's a tough life.

Cori@SAHMbles said...

I'm so sorry you have a boo-boo, I too have a bad knee from a skiing accident.

This post however brought back the fondest of memories though. I took a group of doctors to Coronado and we stayed right on the ocean at the Hotel Del Coronado. I had a break in the afternoon and decided to go sit on the beach and people watch when what to my surprise came 30 Marines dressed in white t-shirts, navy shorts and black boots running in formation right in front of me. It was a beautiful site I tell you.

Lady M said...

Sorry about the knee, and my thanks for serving the country while that damage was occurring.

Almost everyone we know has a knee or ankle issue (from the more frivolous arena of dance). One fellow tore his ACL 8 days before the big show in May. Ouch. Brave soul, he did the whole last week of rehearsals and performances and is scheduled for surgery this summer.

Best wishes for a smooth recovery!