The real saga of wounded knee or take my patella, please

 “I shall not be here/I shall rise and pass/Bury my heart at Wounded Knee,” Steven Vincent Benet.

Wounded Knee, South Dakota, was the location of the last major confrontation between the U.S. Army and American Indians.

My Scenic View this particular Monday morning is from flat on my back, being rolled down a corridor at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. I am on a gurney being wheeled into the operating room. The ceiling lights roll by as the gurney traverses the short distance from Pre-Op to the OR. Two orderlies and an OR nurse are propelling and steering the gurney. The nurse is my very own daughter, Christy.

“We’ve assembled the dream team to operate on your knee,” my daughter says to me through her surgical mask. She is trying to assuage any jitters I have while facing knee replacement surgery. Astute father that I am, I recognize the statement for what it is. It is payback for all those times I took her to the dentist when she was a little girl, telling her “this wouldn’t hurt a bit.” Also, the role reversal is not lost on me. Suddenly she is the parent and I am the child

Besides, I know it isn’t true. Dream team, indeed. How can she possibly assemble Jane Seymour, and Cate Blanchett on such short notice?

This little father/daughter drama began several months before when some debilitating knee pain convinced me to see my favorite orthopedic surgeon, Christopher Clevenger, MD. His prediction that one day I would have trouble with my left knee had come true. Even with my untrained eye I could see what the X-Ray picture was showing. There was no cartilage remaining in the knee.

“You are bone on bone,” the good doctor said. The workings of my rather skewed brain even amaze me sometimes. Years ago, an ophthalmologist told me I had a pterygium in my eye. No big deal. The spelling of the word was more threatening than the actual condition. However, it was the very spelling that made my brain see, and my ears hear, pterodactyl. What! I had a large prehistoric bird flying around in my eye? This time the “12 days of Christmas” song popped into my head: “and no cartilage in a bare knee.”

I peered at the black and white X-Ray images posted on the light board in his office. The X-Ray pictures looked like aerial views of Monterey Bay. Dr. Clevenger used a pencil to point out the defective part of my knee. If I were to believe him, I had a definite problem somewhere  between El Torito and Bubba Gump’s. I wondered if instead of having knee surgery he could have replaced the missing cartilage with a fish taco. It was a fleeting thought that I wisely did not give voice to.

There really was no explanation as why the cartilage was worn away. I never played any sports that might result in serious knee injuries such as football or curling. I decided it was from all those years as an altar boy. I thought of contacting Rome to see if I had a claim Dear Pope Francis, hey you wanna talk about cover-ups? How about all that kneeling and genuflecting?

Back in the OR my daughter said: “Sit up. A doctor is going to give you a small injection in your back.” That’s the last thing I remember.

Several hours later someone was prodding me awake. My eyes were having trouble focusing but Christy had spoken the truth. Cate Blanchett was asking: “how are you doing.” I remember thinking: Cate, what are you doing here? You should be preparing your acceptance speech for the Academy Awards. ( I was sure she was going to win for “Blue Jasmine”) And Cate, why are you wearing that shapeless green uniform?

Then Jane Seymour was telling me I had to get up and go for a short walk. A short walk? Jane are you sniffing the linseed oil from your tubes of paints?

Ten days later, after three days at CHOMP and a week at a skilled nursing center, I was home, able to get in and out of a car, walk with a cane, climb stairs, get into the shower, and sleep in a comfortable position.

At home I received excellent care from my daughter who, because she has her own family to care for, was replaced by a lady much more lovelier than either Jane or Cate. She is ministering to me with copious amounts of chicken soup and TLC. I haven’t told her how good I feel because I want to milk this for all it’s worth. Please don’t say anything to her because if she finds out she’ll bury my butt at Wounded Knee.


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2 Responses to The real saga of wounded knee or take my patella, please

  1. Don In Detroit says:


  2. Tom Bottaro says:

    Cute essay, Jer….I too have left-knee-itis, left over from high school football way back in 1947. I also have a bit of arthritis in my right shoulder, left over from my overly vigorous tennis days. That pings me once in awhile, and the knee allows for unexpected thngs now and again, occasionally giving out when I’m climbing stairs. Not to worry, however, as I learned years ago that daily calcium supplements, coupled with goodly amounts of Glocusamine and Chondritin, work well together keep bone joints and ligaments as healthy and painless as advanced (now up past 83 years) will allow. Hope you mend well…

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