The pain started before the Christmas holidays. At first, it was tolerable, but as weeks bled into anguishing months, the pain became unbearable.
I could barely lift my right leg. The right knee throbbed, swelling into a pouting mass the size and color of a ripened pumpkin. Limping became as popular to me as fast food to recent immigrants.
Getting somewhere on time was not nearly as important to me as just getting there. Arriving late at a social function is supposedly fashionable, but for me, just making my “appointed rounds” became an excruciating ordeal.
My wife and kids immediately noticed the limping and the sizable facial grimaces as they strongly suggested seeing a physician. But I continued on procrastinating and limping.
Finally, the family had an intervention, and decided I should be taken to a doctor immediately. I responded that I was coping with the pain, and besides it took my mind off of other potential problems like prostate problems, irregularity, and harmful oral hygiene.
I managed to beat back their harassment until one night lying in bed, trying to sleep. Both legs were throbbing, as I made all kinds of guttural sounds accompanied with body thrashings.
My sweet wife turned on the night light, looked me straight in my teary eyes and said, “Either you get your leg fixed or I am going to have it amputated, and I may not stop with just the leg.”
Trying to take my mind off of amputation and to add a degree of humor into the dialogue I said, “Now, Honey, you know I need my limp for my role as Chester in Gunsmoke.”
While smiling, she placed her hand firmly on my right sore knee, lightly squeezed and said, “Well Chester, think of me as Miss Kitty, then. If you don’t get that knee fixed I am going to tell Marshal Dillon to shoot you just to the left of where my hand is located.” Next morning, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment.
Although the doctor’s appointment is several weeks away, and the pain is exhausting, I’ve learned to be real quiet in bed at night. Biting a rolled-up towel helps absorb the tears and keeps my crying sounds out of the air. I have also discovered that crawling makes my limp less noticeable.
Since walking is painful, I do a lot of sitting. This allows me to watch other old men limping. Limping seems to be quite fashionable among the males of my generation.
Okay, I will confess why I am reluctant to see the doctor. I know what he is going to say. Lose weight and exercise more will be his recommendation. I’ll have to stop eating late at night, consume smaller portions, and give up Dr Pepper. Eating foods like broccoli and celery instead of steak and French fries will be on the menu. Eating soup instead of gravy, and taking an afternoon walk instead of an afternoon nap will become a part of my routine.
Getting old is not fun and can be “hell.” But I’ll make the best of it. Every time I see an old guy limping, I wonder if his wife has given him the same ultimatum as mine has. Well, I’ll show her. I’ll lose 30 pounds and then just dare her to grab my knee firmly and suffer the repercussions.
Well, maybe not. Quite frankly, there is still that limp thing to be contended with.
(Since writing this column, I have had both knees replaced. Thanks to Dr. Roberts, I can now almost keep up with my wife.)