Wow. I’m getting really good at barely writing on even a monthly basis. Oh well. I try. To be fair, I did have surgery #10 last month, and recovery has been a living hell slow going at best.
Before surgery, my surgeon and I talked a lot about what he’d be able to do for my knee on the day of. MRI images (especially images without contrast) only tell part of the story, and we knew that he wouldn’t have a complete picture until he got in there. When he got in there things were bad. Bad with a capital B, bad. After surgery he tried to hold that back, but, despite my Fentanyl high, I pressed.
I need a knee replacement. Not tomorrow, but in the next year or two. I’ll be 34 on my next birthday, and ever since the first time I was told I’d eventually need a total knee replacement (TKR), I dreamed of making it until age 40 without one. Forty is by no means ancient, but it feels like an OK time to have a knee replacement – especially if, like me, you had your first joint replaced at age 14.
My knee surgeon is a sports surgeon with insanely impressive credentials that include a fellowship at Harvard and another fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in NYC where he also served as a team physician to the Mets. But despite his badass background and experience, the condition of my knee left him visibly rattled. I knew I was the first athlete with arthritis he’d ever treated, but it was clear that even he was unprepared to find that level of damage in my 33-year-old knee.
In truth, I was unprepared too. I just thought I had more time.
There’s a lot more that can be said about how utterly fucking miserable this recovery has been, but I don’t have the mental energy to unpack any of that. I’ve documented it in all its raw and unfiltered glory on Instagram, and tonight I’m in no mood to look back.
During a post-op movie binge, Vin and I watched the movie Bleed for This with Miles Teller. It’s the story of Vinny Pazienza – the professional boxer out of Cranston, RI (gotta love a semi-local boy) who made an improbable return to the sport after breaking his neck in a car accident and being told he’d never walk again.
As the story goes, Pazienza ignored doctor’s orders and began lifting weights in his basement – while still in a Halo just months after surgery. As I watched this pivotal scene, I had to fight back tears. Have I ever had a Halo screwed into my skull? No. Have I ever held the parallel bars on either side of me as I learned how to walk again? Yes. Have I ever been told I’d never run let alone walk? Yes. Have I ever been told I’d spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair? Yes. At age 11.
The movie closes with Pazienza giving an interview after returning to boxing and notching an improbable win in what is largely considered the greatest comeback in boxing history.
The reporter asks him, “So what would you say the biggest deception was? What was the biggest lie you were told,” and Teller, as Panzienza, responds plainly, “It is not that simple.”
Reporter: Why not?
Pazienza: No, that is the biggest lie I was ever told. “It is not that simple,” and it is a lie they tell you over and over again.
Reporter: What is not simple?
Pazienza: Any of it. All of it. It is how they get you to give up, they say “It is not that simple.”
Reporter: So what is the truth?
Pazienza: That it is. That if you just do the thing that they tell you, “you cannot” then it is done and you realize it is that simple and that it always was.
So I’ll have a knee replacement. And then, when it is done, I will go back to doing everything they told me I could not. And it will be that simple. It always was.