Twin Oaks: Rise, Fall, and Rehabilitation
(A photo essay of bilateral knee replacement, before, during, and after)
God and my mother presented me at birth with twin oaks for underpinnings. They served me well through childhood and adolescence. Few ran faster than Bobby in the 50 yard dash in the schoolyard. After a successful five game stint as a linebacker for dear old S. H. S., I stepped into a pothole at Candlelight Stadium in Bridgeport CT, tore ankle ligaments, and saw only five more limping minutes of action in my high school senior year.
Freshman year at college I played both ways until a practice scrimmage injury (ankle again) ended my season... even as it rescued me for academic improvement after getting two D warnings (Poly Sci and English) in mid-term.
The other sporting seasons I played without incident or accident basketball, softball, and track. I was able to juggle membership on three roundball teams in my senior year of high school (church, DeMolay, and Boy's Club). Track was mostly sunshine and banter. My events were throwing: shot put, javelin, discus, and hammer. The power of twin oaks beneath me was the secret of my success.
But the hinges at the bottom and midway never quite matched the sturdiness of the oaken limbs. The ankles failed early, but the knees soon followed. I escaped major injury in my sophomore year at college. I started on the varsity team as fullback and had some small success clearing out defensive ends for the derring-do of a Little All-American halfback. I was looking forward to coming into my own in the next two years, maybe feeling like I really belonged, and finally scoring a touchdown.
It wasn't to be. Before the 1951 season began, in a scrimmage with Middlebury, I was hit high and low at the same time on my left leg, heard what sounded like a rifle shot, and discovered a few days later I had torn my medial meniscus. Surgery followed in December at St. Joseph's Hospital, Stamford CT, by Dr. Farrell. No more football.
The mid-limb hinge on the right sturdy oak sounded its rifle shot complaint in the spring of 1958 when I intercepted a downcourt pass in a church league basketball game at Fort Hamilton H. S., Brooklyn. My momentum twisted the right knee beyond its limit. Surgery followed at Brooklyn Methodist Hospital by Dr. Henry Lange, snipping another medial medial meniscus.
Nonetheless I continued to play basketball for another thirty years and softball for another sixteen... albeit with ever-diminishing success. When asked why the occasional limp, I would sigh and observe that someday I was going to have to pay for my athletic addictions.
That pay-up has now arrived. Thanks, however, to the skill and artistry of the medical profession, I may yet walk again without limping; and, if one-on-one basketball is out of the question, playing catch with my grandsons and walking around the block with my wife are probabilities.
Bilateral (both) knee surgery, under the skilled and artistic hand of Dr. Steven Schutzer, went forth Friday morning, December 12th, at Hartford Hospital. The operations lasted four hours. The good doctor observed that the knees were severely arthritic and, from the right knee I assume, he removed a golf-ball sized accretion to the knee. Monday following the surgery I was moved to McLean Adult Care Continuum, Simsbury CT, where I was placed in the sub-acute unit. There I received superb and unfailingly cheerful nursing care. One week later, Monday, December 22nd, I was released from McLean, went to the orthopedist, had the staples removed from the surgical wounds, and went home to enjoy Christmas with the family.
The twin oaks, scarred and weathered, have been mended to new serviceability with a little titanium.