One knows one’s knees
There’s a price to pay for 30 years of hiking and climbing around in the backcountry. Add fighting fires in steep terrain in every Western state and then you’ll understand.My knees are worn out.That makes me a candidate for what my nurse wife, Linn, calls bilateral knee replacement.But I’m fighting it. They’re my knees, and I want to keep them as long as I can. Besides, I like my body the way it is.You see, after all these years of use and abuse, me and my knees are friends. And you don’t cut good friends out of your life and throw them away.There are lots of reasons for putting this thing off for another 10 years.I already have enough trouble getting through airport security.When the knees start hurting, you just slow down a little. You stop more often to smell the flowers.They hurt too much and out come the special pills the doctor prescribed for just such an occasion.Friends who have been through the operation tell me it’s a piece of cake.”Get it over with,” they say.But doctor Bob, my orthopedic doc, and I are in agreement to put it off until I’m 70.The trip to Denver last weekend to see Body Worlds helped confirm my decision.There was no way at first that my family was going to get me to go see real live dead people and their body parts on display.It’s the Indian in me. We have respect for the dead. There are taboos.But when my daughter Shandra’s main man friend couldn’t come, the cheapskate in me didn’t want the $22 ticket wasted.Besides, I was told these plasticized cadavers had given permission to be placed on display, presumably before they kicked the bucket.Linn delights in telling her friends and reminding me that I was the last one of our group to leave the exhibit. And why not? It was fascinating.The guy I spent the most time staring at had his birthday suit removed right down to the bare bones.Every conceivable body part made of bone that could be replaced with a prosthetic had been worked on.An arm had a steel plate with screws. Part of the skull had metal in it. The hip had been replaced.And right there in front of me for my viewing pleasure was a knee replacement.Just like I suspected, part of the bone had been cut off. And therein lies the problem for me.Almost 60 years of living has taught me that if anything can go wrong, it usually does.The picture is still in my mind. There in the operating room is Doctor Bob with sweat dripping from his brow and the hacksaw in his hand going back and forth.One slip followed by that famous little word, “Oops.”There are a few more hills calling for me to hike and a few more fires to fight before going under the knife. With over 25 years of experience in federal land management agencies, Bill Kight, of Glenwood Springs, shares his stories and occasional “scientific” observations with readers every other week.
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