29 May 2009

Moving Out of State

No, not out of California. Although we all probably should given our governor's inability to do anything helpful for those of us who live here. Please don't get me started on that dude. If he had his way, he'd sell his soul to the Devil to change the U.S. Constitution. He wants to be President. Thank whichever deity you worship for making Arnold a foreigner, thus preventing him from ever running for this country's highest office.

Now where was I? Oh! I'm moving out of the state of mad. I'm long gone from the state of panic. I live in the moment. At the moment, I just don't care. The knee is coming along. Yes, it continues to hurt. Yes, it's still stiff as hell. Yes, I'm still being tortured by my physical therapist. All I can do is keep pushing myself and the knee. Now that we've joined the ranks of the uninsured, I'll only go to PT once a week since I'm paying out of pocket. On the days when I don't go, I'll work on the knee at home. I don't need the physical therapist for strengthening as much as I require her services for breaking up the scar tissue. I can't do that to myself. It's much too painful.

I did some kicking in the pool the other day. I didn't feel too bad while I was doing it. Once night fell, the knee was not happy. I am finding that the marijuana does help with the pain. I only turn to it two or three times a week. I still don't enjoy it though.

While I don't see how I can possibly return to surfing any time soon, I'm feeling a bit more optimistic about the knee in general. The pain is much less than it was five weeks ago or even two weeks ago. I gain more flexion each week. The extension continues to be an issue, but I'm not going to obsess about that any longer. I don't need 0 extension to surf or do anything else. I've not had a straight leg most of my life. I will not be bothered by it now. The flexion, however, is a necessity. My physical therapist is concerned that too much flexion will affect the integrity of the implant. I will have to talk to her about that. I want as much flexion as I can get. I'm not worried about the implant. There are people out running on their prosthetic knees. I don't plan to be that extreme or hard on my knee joint. I think, though, the professionals need to let the patients decide how much they want to tax these joints. With that said, I doubt that my knee will get much more flexion than it had before. I think what I had before (at about 120 degrees) is what my physical therapist is shooting for now.

Summer is coming. Crowds will soon be upon you. Before you do something rash, ask yourself this: WWDD?

What would Duke (Kahanamoku) do?

25 May 2009

Knee Replacement: Five Long Ass Weeks Later

Oh man, am I fully in the Valley of Death, so to speak!

These days I live in a state of mad. When I'm not mad, I'm in a state of panic, full of doubt about my progress, assuming I'll be one of the people for whom this procedure doesn't work. Really. It's that bad. This, now, is the hardest part: the waiting to be better. And the thing is, I still have a long way to go.

Thankfully, I've found someone who's talked me down off the ledge. In fact, she and I are the same age and have the same name. What I've needed all along is to talk to an active person who's been down this road. She said that the hardest part for active people is the feeling that you'll never get better. I was relieved to hear that she is back to riding and crashing mountain bikes. Six months after surgery, her knee is solid.

I have hulls on the brain. All I want to do is surf my hulls. Perhaps that's why I'm bored by surf videos and refuse to watch them.

Our COBRA payments balloon to $1300 in June. It now looks like we will soon be uninsured. Although we've applied for the government-funded assistance program for people making COBRA payments, we've yet to hear whether or not we've been accepted into the program. This is a tough one. I still need physical therapy. I'm not going to stop going, but I can't afford it either. So do we try and borrow the $1300 to extend COBRA for another month (hoping we get word about the program)? Or do we start paying out-of-pocket? Either way, we're screwed. Neither one of us is really working.

Things will improve eventually. They always do.

24 May 2009


21 May 2009

A Milestone?

At the end of my physical therapy session, I was put on an exercise bike and told to turn the pedals around. I couldn't do it. The knee was too tight. The pain was too great. So I was then told to pedal as far as I could in one direction. Once I'd gotten the pedals as far as I could take them, I was to pedal in the opposite direction.

This did not sit well with me. I could tell that my knee was almost there, almost able to bend enough to allow full pedal rotation. I would try to push through it, feel the pains in my knee and stop.

Fuck it.

When they told me I could leave, the pedals were turning completely.

20 May 2009

Heeding My Own Advice

I sent this yesterday to a friend I've made, in the Gnar, as a result of the knee replacement surgery. He's putting off a multitude of surgeries. In fact, he's not surfing because of a variety of ills. I gave him a good talking to. Then it occurred to me today that what I say to other people applies to me as well.

It's time for you to get everything fixed and in working order. That way you can go into your golden years kicking ass all the way there. That's my plan too. I figure this surgery gives me the freedom to become a kick-ass senior when the time comes. It's time to slow down, assess, repair and come out swinging.

I was already over my mood last night when I realized I'd sat through a production of Godspell at my son's school. I was in that chair for over an hour. I assumed that when the show was over I'd stand up and fight back a few choice words for my knee. Well, it didn't go down like that. I stood up and limped away. The knee wasn't overly stiff or throbbing. In fact, I felt pretty good. And the show wasn't half bad either.

19 May 2009

I'm Not Always This Cheerful

Not a good day. I woke up completely over this knee replacement recovery. My attitude hasn't gotten much better almost 12 hours later. The stiffness. The pain. The inability to do shit. The worry. The thoughts about failure. It's all there swirling above my head in a little black cloud.

Now I'm worried that the knee won't even be good enough to surf on. My fear is that I will never have enough flexion or extension to do anything. I guess you could say I'm stuck in my own head today. I don't even know where the tunnel is and, as a result, I see no light anywhere near it.

From what I understand, it's completely normal to get down about the process of recovery. I'm kind of surprised it's taken me this long to hit bottom. I don't plan on staying here. It's not a fun place to be.

The Office Musical

18 May 2009

Knee Replacement: One Month Later

From what I understand, my new knee is made of titanium. The cushion that acts as cartilage is plastic. What does it feel like? My knee but without all of the bone rubbing against bone. There are times when it pops or clicks a little. I don't find this unnerving. My old knee did the same things, but my old knee hurt like hell each time it did those things. This knee seems to be a damn good facsimile of a human knee joint.

Normal things I can do:
- Lift weights (upper body)
- Swim with a pull buoy (kicking lightly if and when I feel like it)
- Cook a quick meal
- Sit comfortably
- Drive comfortably
- Swing my leg up onto the bed or into a car under its own power
- Take the dog to the dog park (and sit while he plays)

Normal things I cannot do:
- Walk or stand for long periods (although I have been to Target and the grocery store)
- Sit for long periods without the space to straighten my new knee
- Climb stairs comfortably
- Drive a stick
- Ride a bike
- Walk without a limp

I've been one of the lucky ones who has slept relatively well since the day I came home from the hospital. I get about six hours of sleep a night, usually in three-hour chunks. I wake up once a night due to the pain. I sit up for about five minutes, rub my leg and go back to sleep. I've read on the knee replacement forum that I frequent that some people have difficulty sleeping after the surgery. Many are on sleeping pills. Just as I've spent years playing through pain, I've spent years sleeping through pain—the pain of road rash, the pain of an over-taxed body, stuff like that. Of course, the wine and ganja don't hurt either. Since I'm no longer on prescription pain meds, I drink a glass of wine at night if I'm not feeling much pain. If, instead, the pain is severe, I take a little toke to take the edge off. There have been a few nights when I didn't turn to either substance and slept fine.

As of today, my extension is 12 degrees and my flexion is 102. My physical therapist understands that I had limited extension and flexion prior to surgery. We've both acknowledged that we may not be able to fight the past 29 years, that my flexion and extension may only get as good as they were before the knee replacement and not before the original injury. With that said, she still insists on torturing me!Once again, the dreaded weight was placed around my ankle, thus forcing the knee to extend as much as it could. It looks innocent enough in the photograph. What you can't see is me trying not to scream from the pain. I can't say I don't appreciate all of this effort. When I first saw the physical therapist, my extension was at about 30. We've both worked hard to get it to straighten out. Frankly, I'll be happy if I can get it down to 5 degrees. I think it's still straighter than it's been for the last few decades. I won't balk at any attempts to make it straighter still.

The joint continues to hurt. There will be some kind of pain down there for awhile. That I can live with. Recovery does not happen overnight. This first month was probably the hardest month. I can't say each day is easier than the one before it, at least not while I'm still being tortured by my physical therapist. I do believe that the improvements can be measured by each succeeding month.

The funny thing is I have not watched one surf video. A friend has volunteered to loan me a few oldies which I've never seen. Those I'm anxious to view. The more recent videos? Not so much. I'm at a bit of a crossroads in my surfing. Things that used to interest me no longer hold my attention. Perhaps that's why my head was turned by hulls and surf mats. I can't even explain what I mean. I just know I've mentally opened myself up to new possibilities with respect to my own surfing.

15 May 2009

The Proof is in the Pudding

While I'm not yet up to standing, walking or sitting for long periods of time, I can now see a vast improvement in the joint since having surgery almost a month ago. My knee is no longer hot to the touch; the inflammation is finally subsiding. I know that happens with time. I still credit the physical therapy and acupuncture for speeding up that process. My knee is now a bit warm to the touch. When it was touched last week, it felt like the knee had been lying out in the sun trying to get a tan. The stiffness was maddening. As I sit here typing right now, my knee is completely comfortable. I no longer have to sit with the leg extended. It is bent. While I can still bend my right knee so that my right foot is under the chair, my left leg now rests comfortably with the knee bent at least 90 degrees. Once I stand up, the pain will return. The stiffness will make its presence known. I can live with that now that I'm seeing the improvements.

As I'd predicted, last night was rough. I didn't sleep well. The pain kept me tossing and turning all night. I got up at 3 a.m. to pop an Aleve. I've decided to take as few Aleve as possible. No, I'm not trying to tough out the pain. My immediate concern is that Aleve, like Vicodin, could potentially do more harm than good. If you don't believe me, do a search on the long-term effects of NSAID use. It ain't pretty.

That leaves me with a last resort: marijuana. Yeah, I said it. Yeah, I said it on the internet for the world to see. I'll be more specific. I have taken to smoking marijuana for its pain relieving properties. As I said once before, I looked into medical marijuana. Frankly, the price for going through the motions to obtain weed legally was prohibitive. I decided to obtain it the old-fashioned way: I made a phone call to a friend who smokes weed. This was a big deal for me. I haven't smoked marijuana in at least 15 years. I don't find it enjoyable. I don't like smoke in my lungs. Nevertheless, I did some reading. Nowhere did I see anything about it causing nausea (Vicodin), causing constipation (Vicodin), or being addictive (Vicodin). Nowhere did I see anything about its somewhat long-term use leading to severe gastrointestinal problems (all or most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including Aleve). I've smoked it twice thus far. Last night, I took one or two puffs. My friend had said this stuff was strong, that since I hadn't imbibed any in over a decade I should take it slow. Well, I was a little too careful and felt a teeny tiny buzz that was weaker than an endorphin high. Tonight, I puffed a bit more. Perhaps that's why my knee feels rather good right now. I'm not high, just feeling less pain. This, then, is the optimal state for me with this substance. I don't want to get high. I didn't enjoy it much when I was younger. Age hasn't changed my attitude toward my personal use of the drug. I do support its legalization. If alcohol is legal, there is no reason why marijuana should be illegal. I doubt that I will use it every day. If marijuana were a man, I'd have to be blunt: "I'm just not that into you." However, I need something palliative on the days I go to physical therapy.

Come and arrest me now. There's not enough of it here to even get charged with anything. It is a pain relief option I'm trying. If it doesn't work, I will not look for anything else to relieve the pain. I'm done with having all of this shit, whether legal or illegal, in my system.

14 May 2009

I'm Sorry I Raised My Voice

"But you're hurting me so badly that I'm about to pee all over this table."

I didn't. Pee on the table, I mean. I did yelp in pain a few times. This woman is on a mission. I may not survive the mission though.

When you read information about knee replacement on the web, people insist that pain meds be taken prior to physical therapy. Not knowing whether or not this is necessary, I've followed the advice. I'm no longer on the prescription medication; I've settled for Aleve and try to take it twice a day. My pain at this point is minimal when I don't tax the knee too much. As a result, I went to physical therapy without any kind of NSAID/pain reliever in my system. I'd forgotten to take it. And I swear today was the day when I needed it the most. It was the first day I couldn't ignore what she was doing. No amount of staring at the iPod or turning up the volume was going to spare me the pain of this session.

I saw stars a few times because I'd forgotten to breathe. She was so intent on working the leg that at one point she almost fell off of the stool.

Recovery is a team effort. I can't hurt myself enough to bring this knee back. I knew that going in. I chose a physical therapist who could do it for me. My god, she takes no prisoners. I know she's killing me because she knows I can take it. She also knows that I hate when she says, "Relax." That inevitably means she's going to stretch the muscle as far as it will go. Then she'll have me push back. That will then be followed by another order to relax. Each time I relax, she puts her entire being into pushing the muscle into another zip code. I grit my teeth. I clench my fists. I hold my breath. I try not to pee on the table. The pain is that severe. It's going to be a rough night. I can already tell.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I'll Take All the Help I Can Get

From Acupuncture Today:


Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years; in fact, the actual Chinese character for acupuncture, translated literally, means "acupuncture-moxibustion." The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.

Indirect moxibustion is currently the more popular form of care because there is a much lower risk of pain or burning. In indirect moxibustion, a practitioner lights one end of a moxa stick, roughly the shape and size of a cigar, and holds it close to the area being treated for several minutes until the area turns red. Another form of indirect moxibustion uses both acupuncture needles and moxa. A needle is inserted into an acupoint and retained. The tip of the needle is then wrapped in moxa and ignited, generating heat to the point and the surrounding area. After the desired effect is achieved, the moxa is extinguished and the needle(s) removed.

12 May 2009

You Can Stop Limping Now

No, as a matter of fact, I can't. After what they did to me today, I'm surprised I can walk at all. They are working hard at pushing this knee past the limitations I've had for the last 29 years. They want to see it straighten completely. Had I known the kind of pain reaching that goal involves, I might have told them a straight leg isn't necessary. Yesterday it was the weight hanging off my ankle. Today it was trying to train the muscles to do what they haven't done since I was 17. They've been working on that all along, but today was different. It should be illegal for someone to push down on a knee that hasn't straightened in decades. I might have to take someone to small claims court for all of this pain and suffering. At one point, I asked, "You don't do this to the old people with knee replacements, do you?" I was relieved to hear that they don't. No, they saved the torture for me.

I am steadily improving. I can feel it bit by bit. (And I do mean bit.) The thing which causes me the most discomfort right now is the scar. It's extraordinarily tender. I cringe when fabric touches it. Even when I wear shorts, I turn up the leg on that side so that the shorts don't rub up against the scar. And what happens at physical therapy? They run the ultrasound over the knee, including the scar. Then they massage the joint, including the scar. That's more than enough pain for me in one day. Alas, that's only the beginning. Eventually, my leg is pushed this way, wrenched that way, stretched to the point of no return and then stretched even further. All the while, I try to remain relatively quiet. It helps to have music. Both in the hospital and during physical therapy, the iPod has remained my most reliable companion. It says nothing while giving me enough pleasure to dull the pain.

I'm now trying to learn how to walk again. For one thing, I do still limp. I can't quite help that. My knee hurts when I bend it. Each step is still uncomfortable. What they are stressing to me is I have to fully extend the leg now when I walk. My muscles have to learn how to do that and, I guess, they want me to start teaching the muscles as soon as possible. Well, I will try. My muscles aren't the only part of me that's confused. My brain still thinks it's impossible for me to have a leg that straightens completely. So while I want to do as I'm told, the little devil on my shoulder asks me why I bother since I'm going to end up with the extension and flexion I had prior to surgery.

Flexion is still an issue. However, I'm told that the inflammation is part of the problem there. I can still get 90 degrees on my own. While mistaking me for a contortionist today, the physical therapist said she'd bent it to 100 degrees. We both agreed that our ultimate goal is 125 degrees (presumably under my own power).

I still can't begin to think about paddling out. I know I'll do it again. I just don't know when.

11 May 2009

Knee Replacement: Three Weeks Later

Are we there yet?

I know I'm making progress. Well, I don't really know. I think I'm making progress. Today I asked the physical therapist if the recovery from this is gradual or all of a sudden. I was saddened to learn that it is, in fact, the former. I knew the answer to the question before I asked it. Why did I even ask?

I still walk like an extra from Shaun of the Dead. My limp is less pronounced than it was a week ago. But a limp is still a limp. The inflammation, stiffness and pain continue to lessen. In fact, the pain ceased being an issue until I began physical therapy. I swear they tried to kill me today. No. Strike that. They tried to hurt me enough to make me kill myself. I know it's necessary and I'm thankful for the help. I thank them every day for helping me to get my life back. Then I go home and wait for the pain to hit. There is a delay between the therapy session and the onset of the pain from the therapy session. No, I will not take the Vicodin. However, I have looked into medical marijuana. (I don't think I qualify as I no longer have a chronic medical condition that involves constant pain. The knee replacement solved that. All I want is a prescription for the next two months. People who qualify are given prescriptions for a year. I don't want that and doubt that I can meet the qualifications anyway.) I know what you're thinking. I've already called a friend to hook me up.

The highlight of the day was when the physical therapist decided to work on my extension (or lack therof). She had me roll over onto my stomach. Then I was to scoot down until my foot was hanging over the end of the table. Okay, it was barely hanging over since my knee is still a bit bent. The next thing I knew she'd placed a weight on my ankle, saying she was going to leave it there for a few minutes. Then she tried talking to me to divert my attention from the fact that my leg felt like an anvil was attached to it. It was awful. After a bit of a rest, I had to endure that torture for several more minutes. Agony. This was after she'd stretched, pulled and applied pressure to (i.e., massaged) the muscles around the knee. As I sit here typing, I can barely move my knee. When I wake up tomorrow, I'm certain to have a little more movement as a result of today's session. And then I get to go back and do it all again!

I'm going to get back in the pool on Wednesday. When I got up this morning, I thought better of my plan to go today. Physical therapy is exhausting even though I'm not doing much at this point. Joint replacement surgery is so hard on the body that you have to be careful about overdoing it. Your body is working hard to repair serious damage as it is. When you add physical therapy to the mix, your body goes into overload. So why would I add swimming to that just yet? I'll swim on Wednesday. That's my acupuncture day, a day when I'm guaranteed to feel great. Granted, I won't be kicking. There's not enough strength or flexion for that at this point. (Or maybe there is. I'll never know since I really don't want to chance the pain of a mistaken assumption about my abilities this soon after surgery.)

I'll be relieved when this isn't so hard. (That's what he said!)

08 May 2009

Truly Bionic

I went to outpatient physical therapy today . . . and survived. The first thing the therapist did was attack the scar tissue through massage. Then she worked on the quads, hamstrings and calf. Finally, she began stretching the hell out of whatever she could.

I'm told she went easy on me because this is the first session. (Gulp)

That's fine. Bring it, girl, bring it! The more she brings it, the better my recovery. This is a team effort. I chose this physical therapist because I'd heard she can be tough. Prior to the surgery, people advised me to find a physical therapist who would push me. Given the amount of complaining Soul Brother #1 did after he saw her (when recovering from rotator cuff surgery for the second time), I knew exactly whom I'd go to for my torture sessions.

Between sessions, I'm to do exercises to work on strength, extension and flexion. Yes, it's hard. Strike that, it's not hard. It's drudgery. But it's so much more preferable to living a sedentary life. I know I will get back in the water. That goal keeps me focused. Without the surgery, I'd be shit out of luck, dealing (badly) with constant pain, surfing fewer and fewer sessions until I stopped entirely. Fuck that. Who wants that? I'll sit quietly when I'm dead. Not before.

07 May 2009

Acupuncture and Questions Answered

I swear to God I love those needles!! When you're a kid, ready to scream every time some doctor comes at you with what looks to be the largest syringe in the history of histories, you have no way of knowing you will grow up to appreciate being a human pincushion later in life.

I called my acupuncturist last week, thinking I'd go in to tackle the inflammation in my knee, lower leg and foot. By the time I got there today, I was a mess. Everything was wrong. Everything. My knee had begun to hurt quite a bit yesterday and continued to do so today. My hips ache from limping. My whole being felt bad. When you feel horrible physically, your attitude is sure to follow. And it did. I was in a bad way. Then the needles were put to work, not only on my knee issues but also on some adrenal issues (for reasons unknown to me). All I know is by the time I left an hour later, the world was a much nicer place. At some point during the session, my foot started twitching. When I asked what that was about, I was told energy was being released. I don't profess to understand why acupuncture works. I just know that it does. I've turned to it on many occasions to fix problems that Western medicine would attack with drugs. I even turned my mom onto acupuncture. Shockingly enough, she admitted it worked and credits it with fixing a neck problem her doctors could not solve. Here's where I go:

Inner Chi Traditional Chinese Medicine

tres_arboles asked quite a few questions and I'm going to answer them here rather than in a comment. Again, I'm blogging about this knee in an effort to leave a paper trail, so to speak, of information for people who need more information about knee replacement.

With regard to the pain meds, I wasn't in either of the two camps you list. My fear of becoming addicted to them was minimal and I did not believe I should be able to handle the knee replacement pain. For me it was a matter of trying to feel as good as I could. The pain meds made me so nauseous that they scared me. I truly believe that one heals better when one is physically strong. In my mind, you can't maintain your strength, let alone gain any additional strength, if you're not eating. I could not eat at all on the pain meds. I could not poop on the pain meds either. I felt like those two facts alone were good enough reasons to stop the Vicodin. I was more worried about feeling worse, rather than better, while on those meds.

Yes, my surgeon is insistent that you move around after knee replacement, but they all are. That joint cannot remain static. When I blew out my knee the first time, I was in a full leg cast for months after I injured the leg. Then, once I came home for the surgery, I was in a full leg cast again. That knee did not move at all. I think the medical establishment has finally figured out that this was not necessarily the proper way to treat a knee injury. With that said, I saw my surgeon yesterday. He admonished me to take it slowly, to show some restraint, reminding me that this surgery is traumatic for the body. In other words, he was making sure I understood not to push it too hard too quickly. He need not worry about that because this shit hurts. Who wants to push through this kind of pain? I can't. I don't know what's necessary pain and what's unacceptable pain. I've got no choice but to carefully follow the recommendations of my physical therapist, who I will see for the first time tomorrow.

I have no idea which knee I got. Prior to surgery, I hadn't realized there were several on the market. I don't really care about that stuff though. The reason why I was looking for a surgeon I trusted, one who understood who I am, is because I was fine letting him decide how best to approach this surgery. I mean, you could give me a list of all of the knees and tell me what they do. That doesn't mean I know which one to pick. Perhaps there are certain quirks different artificial knees have that only a surgeon would know. I left that up to my doctor. He's an athlete. He knew I wouldn't take "slow down" for an answer. Whichever knee it is, I'm certain it will be fine for surfing, swimming, cycling and lifting.

As for sites, I did a Google search almost every day for two weeks, learning as much about knee replacement as I could. The search wasn't all that helpful. Most knee replacement patients are senior citizens. You find very little information about younger patients. (Again, that's why I'm attempting to record this experience in my blog.) Some sites said patients could expect to be on a walker for six weeks. Six weeks? I was off the cane in about two weeks. El Hefe had hip replacement in his 20's. That's not even close to being a common occurrence. You just don't see much on the internet about people under, say, 55 or (usually) older getting a joint replaced.

I'm not back in the pool yet. My doctor did give me the go-ahead for that. I'm not ready. I'll probably start going back next week, using the pull buoy for about 20 minutes and perhaps walking in the pool too.

This is experience is not for the meek. But then again, neither is bone on bone pain. Once you've lived through that, anything that promises to rid one of that is more than worth it. As hard as this is to go through, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

05 May 2009

Did He Just Tell Me to Shut the F@$% Up?

That's how I took it, but in the best way. Someone has put me in touch with a surfer who went through the knee replacement journey years ago. We've exchanged a few emails. This one said it all:

What you need to do is be patient. Its been a few weeks, that' s all. You had a double amputation, so to speak. I surf my 7-10 and my 9' LB My replacement is my front leg. THat helps I think. When it comes to PT, listen and do what they say. They want you to succeed. Movement will come. I used my total gym to keep my upper body in shape but I also used it when the platform comes down and I kept going further w/it.
Don't be frustrated.

I'm not so much frustrated as I am bored to the point of extreme impatience with the entire process. This is the email I needed to read. Now I'll adjust my attitude. That includes shutting the fuck up.

04 May 2009

Knee Replacement: Two Weeks Later

The last three days have seen me go from one emotion to another: despair, elation, impatience, boredom, you name it. I'm finding it hard to keep it all in perspective. Idle hands, as they say. In my mind, I should already be in the pool cranking out several hundred yards or even walking without a limp. Didn't someone once say you can't rush a good thing? Remind me of that the next time I start to lose my mind.

My thighs tell the tale of the death of this knee. This photo was taken last year. My right thigh is big and muscular. My left thigh is tiny. That's one of the clues to someone's joint issues. As the knee got worse, I used the leg less and the muscles began to waste away.

It's not like I'm regretting my decision to replace the knee God gave me. That thing was shot. Prior to the surgery, I couldn't walk the dog or walk up stairs without difficulty. I've got virtually no strength in the left leg right now, but I've seen the progress. I can finally swing my leg up onto the bed unaided. I have enough bend to walk up a stair. Still, there's a lot of inflammation and stiffness.

This is a violent operation. You probably won't ever see anyone else describe it that way. The signs are there though. I don't bruise easily. If I get hit with a surfboard, my complaints about pain will be the only proof. My body might manage to turn a little purple if it's a good hit. Otherwise, you'd never know I'd had any kind of collision with anything. When the bandages were taken off my knee, my leg was black and blue. There are still some bruises even two weeks later. Violent. How else can you describe an operation that involves a jig, a saw and cutting through bone? Violent? Yes. Necessary? Completely!

I see the doctor on Wednesday. Perhaps it's time for outpatient physical therapy. Right now, my therapist comes to the house and I crank out the exercises in about 10 minutes. On Thursday, I'm going to a surf friend who does acupuncture; we're going to start tackling the inflammation and the scar tissue. I've also located a sports massage practice that specializes in Active Release Techniques. I'm not taking my recovery lying down. I want my life back and I'm willing to work for it.

02 May 2009

Why I Don't Mind Missing a Summer of Surf in L.A.

Soul Brother #1 took this shot in August 2007. I'm in there somewhere, probably fuming about the crowd and its kooky ways.