Monday, February 29, 2016


I was a landlubber who was “free” but not adrift in any way. I lived in New England, inland, far from the sea. I was not a sea man, I was a land man. My longtime love and joy was hiking in the beloved Green Mountains. I loved the forests. I felt free. Expansive. The Appalachian Trail. Now I have been captured. My freedom to ramble was taken away from me by a War Lord. Like the War Lords of the 1600s who came ashore in New England to “impress” or imprison landlubbers through force, and compel them to work on sailing ships, Lord Arthritis captured me, took away my freedom, and bid me do his service.
For more than a year since I was impressed into Lord Arthritis’ service, I have been bound on a sea of pain over which Lord Arthritis is commanding Admiral. My once, joyful earth-bound gait, became a lumbering, painful, awkward side-to-side cartoon across the deck of my life. Arthritic grit and bone spurs in both knees grinding together, took the wind out of my sails, and held me painfully captive day by day. Pain foamed and swirled through my knees like sea water drawn in and squirted out of feeding bi-valves. I heard later that in the same way that sand polishes the inside of bi-valves, my hinge joints had been polished smooth and shone like mother of pearl as the bone began to wear through the bone.
Lord Arthritis’s physical war on humanity offers a grand opportunity for Pain Pirates. An armada of large, brigantine, regional hospitals anchor in the major cities. These larger vessels deploy small, specialty clinics, like quickly moving attack sloops to combat each War Lord - Arthritis, Cancer, Cardiology, Urology, Surgery. You can see a virtual armada of these sloops lying in the lee of the larger hospitals. They ply the social coastline which connect the surrounding villages, the community islands: the club, arts guilds, community centers, libraries and elder-care facilities to find and capture patients. The large hospitals provides the big guns, the technology, surgery suites, hospital beds, the cannons of warfare to protect the sloops. But, the specialty sloops are where battles are waged and prisoners taken.
In the physical battle, specialty sloops Lord Arthritis had stopped me, captured me in pain. Then I was sent aboard an Orthopedic Clinic Sloop manned by hardened, experienced fighters. You can see it in their swagger. They offer me an array of battle plans which I must take “or else!” I had to pay them, and handsomely, or they would not do battle with Lord Arthritis. They would maroon me to the War Lord’s tortuous work. “Take it or leave it!” they smirked. And, I knew what “leave it” meant. My blood ran cold with fear. It took a treasure chest of the booty.

Before the surgery I was told that having a knee replacement would take “20 years off your life”. But, what kind of change can a metallic peg-leg contain? The brochure for the new, replacement said that many people have surgery and are up and walking with support “quickly”, “independently mobile” within several weeks it said. Maybe.
Less than two weeks after Medicare funding was granted, the tide changed. Pain Pirates no longer threatened me. I was prepped. I was given a cocktail of pain relievers which had me floating on a sea of imaginative warmth and sunshine. My life floated away from me. I am sure that the anesthesiologist launched me on a small boat which took me over to the side of invisibility where I could not physically see.
Then the Pain Pirates, like a small, assault group, followed a captain armed with weapons that were sharpened to precision, lit special lights and wielded saws, cutlasses and drills. I was ripped and had one of my arthritic knees sawed off. They replaced Lord Arthritis’ playground with a new, titanium & plastic knee. Lucky me!
I was marooned in time. I viewed the my past as a vast continent. In the foreground, a land of gnarled and attrited experiences. I did not want to go back there. Then further away, the brighter it became. I arrived in the sunny days of youth with a longing for bright sandy shores. I was on a new island - my Treasure Island.
Does one really recover? Go back? I remember coming to in the recovery area looking around wondering who were these smiling, friendly people? They had put pulsing, swelling plastic sleeves on my legs, like something breathing me. I was sweetly told they were going to get me up and out of bed so I could walk behind a walker down the hallway – down the first path of my Treasure Island.
Like a drunken Long John Silver between my wife and a nursing aide, with my rear sail a’flappin’ we pulled an i.v. pole along behind us down the hallway. “See, you can do this!” But what am I doing? Oh, yes, I’ve replaced my old pain with my new pain.

            In the end, there is no recovery, really. You can’t recover and go back to where you started. You are changed. It is precovery.
            My old days were filled with teeth-gritting movement dealing with Lord Arthritis. My days are now filled with teeth-gritting therapy. I wake in the night and lumber cartoonlike to the kitchen to get plastic bags of frozen English peas to ace bandage atop ice my swelling knee. My freezer is a treasure chest of frozen peas and corn. Booty call.
            The Pain Pirates have been replaced out patient Physical Therapists and exercise regimens. “If you don’t do the exercises,” they warn, “you’ll never walk.” What happened to 20 years off my life?
Oh yes, that 20 years is out there! You just have to go get it. Being set adrift on your life. Being marooned in time. Going at a different pace. Being alone until, as you walk down the beach of Treasure Island, you find footprints of someone else. Someone new. Not the Pain Pirates, not Lord Arthritis, someone else because you are someone else.

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager – All Rights Reserved.

SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG and receive each post of The Three Simple Questions bLog

JACK MAGNUS / Readers Favorite Review:
BRENDA HAMMOND / GoodReads Review -
    "You should buy this."
MARK KRAUSMAN  / GoodReads Review -




No comments:

Post a Comment