Life’s Little Surprises: In The Hands of Surgeons

Ten years ago my right knee gave up the fight to stay mobile after various injections and a partial knee replacement, it became time for a full court press with a total right knee replacement. But who would I have do the cutting?

The answer was in the form of a well known and highly respected surgeon, who had actually had done miracles with my mother-in-law’s shattered shoulder and upper arm suffered in a fall from some low steps onto an asphalt driveway. Her upper arm  and shoulder bones were literally left in fragments. The prognosis was grim. She quite likely would never regain the use of that arm. But thanks to her surgeon, she regained well over 80% of her range of motion and strength.

The surgeon, who had been a specialist in reconstructive surgery of the hands and arms, also added knee replacements to his practice that made my choice easy. As a matter of fact the replacement of my knee was one of the first dozen such operations under his knife. My surgery was different from the others he had done in that he first had to remove the partial replacement prosthesis before installing my new knee.

The operation was unremarkable and apparently successful in all regards. But later, when I started walking, I noticed one peculiarity. My right foot, which had previously tracked straight ahead, now canted out to the right giving me something like a duck  waddle. A few months later I learned that the new angle of my foot nearly had a fatal effect.

Several months after the operation I exhumed my motorcycle which had been patiently waiting in the barn for our first ride of spring. Everything went just fine until a car driver turned right into my path.

Some of you are probably not familiar with the operation of motorcycle brakes. The brake on the front wheel is controlled by a lever on the right handlebar, and the rear wheel brake is controlled by a foot lever operated by the right foot. Using the brakes becomes instinctual after many years in the saddle. But this time was different.

When I mashed the brakes this time, the front brake did its work, but my right foot in its new outward pointing direction, missed the brake pedal entirely. Opps! Fortunately some creative evasive maneuvering avoided a crash with the car. But it was way too close. Subsequently I practiced until the new foot moves matched the pedal location. End of that story…. Not quite.

Skip forward ten years and my left knee finally gave up the ghost and needed a replacement. Tis time I picked a different surgeon, one who had a glowing reputation for doing the “million dollar” knees of sports heroes. Just the thing for my $29.95 common everyday fellas’ knee.

I shared the story of my first replacement and even showed him the rebel foot as I stood in front of him trying to keep my feet parallel, and failing. But, point made, I thought.

By now you have already guessed the outcome of my second knee replacement. Yep, I woke up to symmetry: both feet now splayed outward an equal amount. He had done me the favor of eliminating the imbalance. I still walk like a duck today.

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