Wise words from Dickens, John finally make sense

Posted on 23 June 2016 by admin

This hopeful quote is from a Christian Bible (King James Version) because John originated it: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
And this quote of conflict begins Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” I remembered both during a recent meeting with yet another orthopedic surgeon about my ongoing knee problem, because from this man I finally got a definitive “diagnosis,” although certainly not what I’d been hoping for.
Second quote first: It was the worst of times when I received this doctor’s information, but it was the best of times when I realized that my long, futile search for improvement was finally over.
First quote second: There’s something remarkably freeing about getting the final answer to a long-asked question, even if it’s not the answer you want. It signals change, points to new direction, makes what you must do achingly clear: Adjust. I will be living the rest of my life with the nasty knee I already have.
The backstory: In early 2008 I had a very “routine” left-knee replacement due to the wearing away of all its cartilage. No problems until I took a disastrous fall late in 2012, breaking that same knee and my left femur at the same time. Both hip and knee were repaired in a single major surgery, and the rehab that followed was fine, up to a point. But I never got beyond that point; the knee never worked again the way it had earlier. It would “freeze” if I sat too long in a normal feet-on-the-floor position; then, straightening it out was a slow, painful process.
And after the straightening, it resisted bending again. Things I never thought of before became major efforts: Sitting down. Standing up. Putting on a shoe. Pulling my leg into the car and getting it out again. Several doctors sent me for different tests to determine what was wrong; all hinted that something was not right, but none pinpointed what it was. And no X-ray showed any problem with the replacement itself.
So I finally I learned from this new specialist that my current condition is “normal” after the “abnormal,” highly specialized knee replacement I now have. Other doctors had told me that a different kind had been required, even hinted at how different that kind is. This doctor finally talked truth: It’s used only in cases where everything in the knee is damaged — tendons, ligaments, muscles, blood vessels, etc. — not just the bone itself. It’s called a “tumor replacement” because that’s what most people who need it have. It’s the ultimate — what my father, a doctor himself, would have termed “ne plus ultra:” nothing beyond. No more can be done.
Maybe the others didn’t want to be, or just couldn’t be, the bearer of these bad tidings, but “No doctor would touch this now,” the truth-teller said. My rock-solid knee will never again flex normally. What I thought was temporary is certifiably permanent. But I’m lucky it flexes at all!
My father also used to say that none of us has a choice of physical problems: “You get what you get, so just take whatever life hands you and do the best you can with it.” His wise words will now define my lifestyle. I’ll continue with the cane, keep on seeking seats where I can fully extend my left leg, and stop assuming that all this will be over sometime in the future. This is the best of news, and the worst of news: My future is now. And the truth has set me free to bless God, for had this been my right leg, I wouldn’t be able to drive at all!
Flannery O’Connor parodied John: “The truth will make you odd.” I always thought that was a bit strange, but now I understand, and I accept it for myself.

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