Posts Tagged ‘surgery’

Health Diarist Fears Worst

08 May


Wounded Knee, Tepid Punks


Trotted off to the orthopedist yesterday to seek professional advice concerning my ailing right knee. It had been over a week, and while it wasn't getting worse, it was swollen like a round grapefruit, hurt like Tabasco in the sun, and damn sure wasn't getting any better. After x-rays and some hands-on twisting and gnarling of the damaged limb, the doctor fears that the cartilage has been torn. Medically speaking, the "cartilage" is actually known as the meniscus. The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of fibrocartilage which is located at the peripheral aspect of the joint. The majority of the meniscus has no blood supply. For that reason, when damaged, the meniscus is unable to undergo the normal healing process that occurs in most of the rest of the body. In addition, with age, the meniscus begins to deteriorate, often developing degenerative tears. Typically, when the meniscus is damaged, the torn piece begins to move in an abnormal fashion inside the joint.

Because the space between the bones of the joint is very small, as the abnormally mobile piece of meniscal tissue (meniscal fragment) moves, it may become caught between the bones of the joint (femur and tibia). When this happens, the knee becomes painful, swollen, and difficult to move.

This tearing of cartilage in my knee will probably lead to my eighth surgery. But first, the doctor has put me on an anti-inflammatory medication, and if this doesn't recede the symptoms, then it's off to the MRI Center, and perhaps surgery down the road.

Slamming Sam, I just can't catch a break since I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism two years ago—one ailment or health condition after another.

Memory Is A Scream

06 May


Granddaddy Came Through


MY FIRST MEMORY IS OF BEING on my back in a hospital bed. Never one to rely on the shoddy recall powers of certain family members who seemed to lack the same zing I had for remembering where I put my yesterdays, very early in life I displayed a precocious curiosity for the push and pull of life's levers and diligently stocked my own memory bank with notes and exercises geared to maximize my potential—so I am rather sure, as sure as a consistent list checker can be that my very first memories from the time I first started thing about first memories were burned into this organ when I am a mere two years and months old during this first of eight surgeries I have undergone to date.

Actually, there are two strong memories that have chided me over the years from that two-week summer stint at Brunswick General Hospital where I had my left testes surgically dropped from inside my groin to the exterior scrotum sack, a process most boys experience within the first month or so after birth, naturally, without surgery, but my two danglers were apparently somewhat reluctant to show themselves. The condition, which also affects male fertility, is called cryptochidism.

Granddaddy was alone with me and he had a brand new toy boat, blue in color, just like he had promised, and I recall quite vividly us walking the few steps hand in hand to the private bath inside my room, filling the tub with water, and floating the boat and me on the wave of magnificent play time antics only Spud Woodward was capable of generating.
This is 1957. I am basking in my own private room. Brunswick General is not a military facility, so I remain at a loss to explain both the private room and my seclusion in a civilian medical institution. Perhaps my grandparents are footing the bill. My own daddy is hardly a thrifty man. In fact, he is well on his way, even taxing gregarious United States Navy standards to their vanishing point a few years down the road, in putting the word "drunk" into the phrase—drunken sailor. But that's of no concern here. I wouldn't be expected to sort out all these details at my age. Responsibility beyond my years did roar in upon me rather early as childhood dynamics tend to go, but not this early, at least not that I recollect. That would come later—with the siblings.

My problem, a traumatic hit so startling as to abruptly sear its passage into my memory, so that I can reflect upon it in my mind's eye just like it was yesterday, is being left alone for the first time in my suddenly quite conscious life. I am an only child at the time. My mother would birth seven children in seven and a half years, and must have been pregnant with my first brother even then, as I was secretly being prepared to undergo the scalpel in anticipation of growing a pair. But for this strategic moment in the life of a child, I am still the oscillating focus of attention for a small army of adoring adults and doting teenage girls, including my mother's own three much younger sisters who would spoil me with "favorite nephew" affection for the rest of their lives.

The toddler is lying in a hospital bed staring up at young mommy and daddy, 22 and 21 years of age, respectively...

They are telling me they have to leave, but that they will be back the next morning. Yes, as a precocious two-year old, nearing three probably, I understand their English but I feel only the compulsion to reject it. I do not wish to be left alone, and I'm not about to let them slip out of that large beige-walled room without a fuss. It was not totally dark outside yet, but within the room, the light was disappearing. Commencing to scream, I continue to wail without conscience until I am told that my granddaddy would be there to visit me in a couple of days and was bringing me the toy boat he had promised. But, as mem'ry serves, nothing would stop my bellicose screeching, stretching no doubt the tissue of my young pink lungs to the bursting point until after they had left my line of vision.


My Hospital Boat

I had done my job. I had let them know how much I cared about them. Or else I had let them know how little I appreciated being abandoned to a strange place all alone and terrified. There wasn't even a smiling winsome nurse around to help guide me towards the light of an inexplicable future. I seemed to sense that I was simply too young to be left alone. Didn't they know that at least one of them could have slept in the room, in that chair over there in the corner, keeping me company, until the fear and trepidation of being abandoned by Nyx, the primordial goddess of night, had passed? Apparently not. Or else this young couple perhaps still in love with each other, or perhaps the party life, had better things to do. Free night off without the snotty-nosed kid. I could only imagine.

But sure enough, an undetermined number of days later, Granddaddy popped in by himself, and I basked in his bombastic personality. Granddaddy was alone with me and he had a brand new toy boat, blue in color, just like he had promised, and I recall quite vividly us walking the few steps hand in hand to the private bath inside my room, filling the tub with water, and floating the boat and me on the wave of magnificent play time antics only Spud Woodward was capable of generating.

It seems odd that this second memory—as keen as the first one days earlier, which was probably a fragment from the evening before the surgery— is not associated with pain of any sort except abandonment, a problem I still suffer in many ways some fifty years later.

My fourth and fifth years were ripe for pneumonic pickings, most of a more pedestrian nature, but we'll leave those for another day.


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""