Learning To Deal With “I Can’t”

Due to my rather intermittent presence on this blog, not to mention the fact that all of you have your own rich and fulfilling lives to live, you may not know that I suffered a really nasty meniscus tear in October of 2020. It was a glorious moment, to be sure, and nearly worth the thousands of dollars in medical bills and months of rehabilitation.

There I was, charging toward the goal from my Center Attacking Midfielder position. The winger, sensing that I was going to make a run, played a perfect cross into the box just behind the centre back. The keeper was stuck in no man’s land—come off your line to try to intercept the cross or stay on your line and wait for the shot. Ultimately, the keeper made the decision to come out just a hair too late, and I was able to slide just underneath the outstretched, gloved fingers and strike the ball perfectly into the back of the net at the same moment I felt the meniscus tear in half in my right knee.

That 10-year-old girl never had a chance.

Yes, it’s true. I injured myself at great cost in a parents versus kids soccer game at the end of my daughter’s fall U11 soccer season. But I’m telling you, I don’t care if she was seventy pounds—it was the best goal of my life. (Since some of you tend to have broken sarcasm detectors, yes, I know this is all very, very pathetic.)

So after a expert consultation and arthroscopic surgery at the hands of Dr. Scott Van Steyn (I just made my final payment today, Doc—enjoy that vacation!) at Ohio Orthopedic in Columbus, Ohio, I am now left with approximately 55 percent of a meniscus in my right knee. The tear was far too bad to repair, unfortunately, but removing the damaged portion meant a much faster recovery—in theory.

“Well, Mark, this is the first step to an artificial knee,” he began.

Wait. Time the fuck out. Artificial knee? I cannot possibly be that old.

Well, it turns out that I can be.

I wrote my very first car blog about SCCA Solo Nationals back in 2008, at the ripe age of 30. Sometimes, I feel like I haven’t really aged much since then. But of course my entire life is different now.

I only had one child, a bouncing baby boy of seven months. I was autocrossing and daily driving a 2004 Mazda RX-8, a car that can mostly be found in junkyards with the accompanying grenaded motors nowadays. I was still working as a retail manager, and I had to request off any Saturday that I wanted to chase cones around parking lots. I was making good money but spending nearly all of it on that aforementioned Mazda, churning through Kumhos as fast as I could get them off backorder.

Here I am, these thirteen years later, with a teenaged son and a “tween” daughter, making three times as much money and still seeming to have virtually none of it left after I pay all of the bills. I don’t really even have a car with much sporting intent anymore. I mean, I could track my Genesis G70 3.3T (and I did buy a set of autocross numbers for it, and I will use them), but I’ve come to realize that I’d honestly rather not. I find that I’m much happier putting my car in Eco mode and cruising at 77 MPH than I am burning off the rears in Sport mode, and there are days that I wonder if I wouldn’t have been better off buying a second G80. Seriously.

So if you’re doing the math at home—yes, I’m 43 years old now. But I never really felt it until Dr. Van Steyn started that sentence with, “Well, Mark, this is the first step to an artificial knee.”

Over the next seven months, I began to feel every day of it.

The real bitch about a torn meniscus is that it doesn’t get better, and you can’t really fix it. So I’ve had to adapt my entire life to adjust. I was a size 38 slim fit when I had my surgery. I’m lucky to get into a size 40 standard fit now, because I can no longer do any sort of plyometrics or running. As the Doc also said, “Running? That’s out of the question now.”

I’ve done all of the squats and leg presses and bike riding, and this is just where I am. I tried to do Shaun T’s Insanity Max: 30 to help drop some of the added weight, but after 30 days I had to admit that I really couldn’t do it intensely enough for it to help. So I’ve gone back to P90X3 for now, and I’m doing the “Mass” track to try to cut out any plyo and just do more resistance work. I’ll probably never be 150-something ever again, and 160-something is starting to feel like it’s out of the question, too, unless I do some severely restrictive dieting.

At first, I couldn’t go up and down stairs at all. Now, I can do it, but it’s not fun or easy. And I can already see how I’m going to probably need to live in a single-floor house someday, and that day is coming sooner than I’d like.

The real bitch, though, is that my fateful day in October 2020 was probably the last time I’ll really be able to play soccer with my kids. I can kick the ball around with them, sure, but I sure as hell can’t run with them. I can’t plant very well on my right leg, so I can’t even kick very well with my left foot anymore.

I realize that this day comes for everybody, but I guess I thought that it would never come for me. There’s part of me that sees people (like my brother) who’ve had much more severe injuries but have been able to rehabilitate much more easily and get back to something resembling normal. I know it might hurt Jack a lot to ride those trails, but he can at least do it. I just can’t.

By the way, the doctor’s next few sentences weren’t much better. He said that I might be able to deal with half a meniscus for a few years, or maybe only six months—there was no real way to know. But the artificial knee was coming, regardless, it was just a matter of time. He also mentioned that he had found quite a bit of arthritis in my knee, which is why it popped and cracked so much for pretty much my entire life. I had just gotten used to the fact that I couldn’t do quad stretches because my knees didn’t bend at that angle, I suppose. So, yay, there’s another complicating factor.

So the choice I have to make nearly every day now is this: How much of this new normal do I accept, and how much I do fight with every breath left in me?

For now, I’m going with the latter. Just like 30 feels very young to me now, I have no doubt that there will come a time when 43 feels incredibly young, and the things I can do now will be the things I wish I could do then.

But, damn, I really do miss Jump Knee Tucks.

53 Replies to “Learning To Deal With “I Can’t””

  1. toly arutunoff

    oh yeah…43 will seem young…I turn 85 in a couple months…didn’t get to keep my national champeenship until I was just past my 45th birthday…you have a long way to go!

    Reply
    • John C.

      Toly recently I reread an old issue of C/D from 1976 for one of my gas bag comments here. There you were in a Leon Mandel article with your not registered for the road Ferrari Boxer Berlinetta. Mr. Mandel had a breakdown, head gasket?, trying to see how fast it would go. Do you still have that car and if not, do you know what happened to it?

      Reply
      • Steven Padley

        I can’t swim either, but I used to run in the pool. I don’t know if your knee will allow it, but it’s an excellent almost zero impact workout.

        Reply
      • CitationMan

        Try running in the pool, if your knee will allow it. It’s an excellent, tough workout that’s almost zero impact.

        Reply
      • Big Tony

        I know bad-knee cross-fitters who swear by their ski-ergs. Some even manage to get in good sessions on the assault bike.

        Reply
  2. Edp

    Make sure you get another opinion, or two. There is a lot to know, and no one doctor knows everything.

    If you haven’t already, find a world class physical therapist, and do a trial of acupuncture.

    Good luck,

    Reply
  3. Fred Lee

    I’ve found doctors to be all over the place when it comes to their prognosis of meniscus issues. I’m your same age and have had portions of both of mine removed in the last few years. The doctor told me that I was missing most of the cartilage in my knees as well, and that if I wanted to keep riding a bicycle I should avoid hills or I’d experience significant discomfort as I’m basically rubbing bone on bone.

    Now at 220 pounds, I’m no svelte climber, but I do like hills. So I keep riding them and what do you know, no discomfort. I have found Cosamin DS to help quite a bit (it’s expensive, even from costco, but there are generic versions that cost less) with general stiffness and soreness.

    Like you my doctor started talking about eventual knee replacements but I don’t foresee that for many, many more years, barring more injuries.

    I think also that many people use knee replacements as an excuse to stop being active. I’ve got older friends who have been successful post knee replacement by spending a year or two prior getting in the best shape of their lives (which is quite painful, given that they need a new knee!), and then using that fitness to recover more quickly. One was an endurance trail runner before his surgery, and he’s still running half-marathons on the trail. Not quite as fast, true, but relative to those who use knee replacements as an excuse to take up bridge, he’s doing great.

    So don’t get too discouraged yet. Your doctor may be overly pessimistic and your results may be better than you expect. But I would suggest biting the bullet and trying Cosamin DS for a few months. It really helped quite a bit with me. Initially I took the recommended 4 pills per day but after getting over the hump have been on 2 per day.

    Reply
    • Fred Lee

      One more thing, and not to be a Cosamin fanboy, but your comment about quad stretches reminded me (as I’ve had similar issues). Prior to trying Cosamin DS, I could squat to about a 120 degree angle, and it hurt. Now I’m squatting (albeit with light weight) to about 70 degrees.

      Reply
  4. Newbie Jeff

    “How much of this new normal do I accept, and how much I do fight with every breath left in me?”

    Do you even have to ask?

    I am now about 90 days from a motorcycle “mishap”… I’m definitely lucky it wasn’t worse, however there were consequences. I’ve never felt 41 years old… until my spill. Now there’s a scar, a dead toenail, a displaced collarbone…

    …but I was back on a bike in month. I didn’t really have the shoulder strength yet, but I just knew I had to do it. THE bike was my project the last month or so… it wasn’t badly damaged, but I decided to build it better than it was when it left Milwaukee. Late last month, my best friend and I took the bikes to Shenandoah for a motorcycle trip to “welcome” me back…

    It was NOT a straightforward climb back… I had lost a lot of confidence. I have always been able to leave my buddy behind on a tight riding road… I led for a section, and I got the feeling that I was holding him up. We swapped, and sure enough he was able to leave me. Man, that was disappointing…

    …but it was a week-long trip. I rode every day… it started coming back on the last day. I had pace again… and on a section of Highway 28 just north of Franklin, I started pulling away from my buddy. He cried mercy on the Sena’s and I slowed up for him… I think it was a good moment for both of us.

    I know it’s not the same thing as a busted knee… but the point is, yes, you fight with every breath left in you. Because you might get somewhere that made the fight worth it…

    Reply
    • Jim

      Sorry to be off point, but you seem as good of a person to ask as any… At what age does it become a really bad idea for a novice to learn to ride a motorcycle? I was thinking of taking the classes in late summer, but I’m doing a bit of a reality check based on my now slower reflexes and deteriorating vision. I’m currently pushing 50.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth

        If you’re willing to spend a year being completely paranoid on something like a 500cc Honda, I think you could do it. I’m assuming you don’t like in NYC or Los Angeles.

        Reply
          • Newbie Jeff

            “At what age does it become a really bad idea for a novice to learn to ride a motorcycle?”

            I’m assuming that you would not be commuting or otherwise have to ride your motorcycle for any reason. If it helps with your decision, know that riding is completely discretionary… you can choose to only ride when the weather is nice, during daylight, when traffic is light, etc…

            Motorcycle safety courses are typically required for the endorsement, and even if they are not in your state, it’s highly recommended. I’m not completely sure, but I think I remember the H-D dealer who conducted my course offered riders, who had successfully completed the course, to return and continue working on their skills until they’re comfortable… free of charge.

            If the road is calling you, go for it…

      • JustPassinThru

        Jim:

        An online friend (who I’d met when he passed through my Montana town) who rides the same model I do, now (we’re members of a rider-specific BBS board) learned to ride at age 55. Someone gave him an old Honda Silver Wing, and he learned.

        He is a retired preacher, now 79; and has done several Iron Butt endurance competition rallies.

        He’s a rarity, but age 50 is not too old if you’re in good health. In one way it’s not a bad time – most people that age don’t have anything to prove to themselves. They will drive, or ride, cautiously – and that goes a LONG way towards making for a safer experience.

        The MSF course isn’t a bad idea, although what I’m getting from the Adventure Rider board these last years, is that the standard of instructors is dropping. Some absolutely untrue stuff is being taught in some classes – not out of the books, but of the instructor’s own idiosyncracies. Such as (NOT a good idea) never use the front brake. That’s misinformation that should have died with Easy Rider clone choppers.

        I taught myself to ride, at age 25, so I can’t comment as to the value of the classes. But, you know…you only live once; and if it’s something you want to try, try it.

        Buy a used machine. That’s the best advice I can offer – you don’t know whether you’ll take to it, or what kind of riding you’ll settle on; so your first machine will probably not be the best for what you find you like. Minimize your losses, by buying used – preferably one that’s got cosmetic damage. Because as a new rider you’ll be adding to it.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          I had a great uncle who built and flew his own planes for about 50 years, but as he hit about 70 he decided that he might be getting too old to continue flying so he took up motorcycling for the first time. He thought it was more fun the flying and wished he had started sooner, but he made up for lost time by puttered around back roads on his motorcycle until well into his 80s, so it is never too late.

          Reply
      • Economist

        Jim, it’s definitely not too late. I was teaching people your age with no problem when I was learning to be an MSF instructor.
        I stopped motorcycling for ten years and picked it back up when I was 36 with two kids and all the responsibilities in the world. Getting back into motorcycles made me so much happier, even if I have to ride more carefully now.
        I would suggest buying a beginner bike and taking the class as soon as you can.

        Reply
      • silentsod

        I’m your junior by a bit and I just started riding motorcycles. I don’t think it’s too late; especially since you’ve got all your decision making apparatus and have presumably mellowed a bit more than a guy in his 30s.

        Take a course to get your sea legs (not your buddy’s bike in a lot). I did the bike in a lot and later the normal course. Professional instruction is superior and lower stress unless the personal instructor is both an okay teacher and understands the motorbike dynamics and doesn’t mind you putting his bike at risk. The controlled environment is also nice compared to a random parking lot. Supposedly the Total Control curricula are superior to MSF which is somewhat outdated. You can always buy the TC book to learn but you’ll need a bike to practice.

        As Jack said a lower CC bike is a good idea. They are still quick; my lowly Z400 is quicker than most vehicles on the road and more agile.

        There’s also stuff like americansupercamp dot com which will have excellent riders teaching newbies on 125cc dirt bikes which is low speed and low impact if you drop. They explicitly mention it’s fine if you have no prior experience on a motorcycle and dirt riding should let you get comfortable in loose conditions or when there’s less than normal grip available. I plan on taking that course next year as the current year course nearby is full and abuts my next child being birthed anyway.

        I went on a hard pack/some gravel road on my Z400 and aside from it being quite squirmy it was alright on street tires but I was engine braking and rear braking out of paranoia of washing the front even though I’ve mountain biked for years.

        Reply
      • James

        I’ll turn 59 this fall and I sold my beloved 2009 Road King in May. I replaced it with a 2008 Corvette. Slower reflexes and deteriorating eyesight aside, the increasing volume of traffic here in the Denver metro the last 10 years or so is what convinced me it was time. Last fall, returning from a ride in the mountains, a driver turned left in front of me and only the ABS on the big bike kept me off the ground. My family is much happier for me to sport around on 4 wheels with airbags and seatbelts. Plus, it IS a Corvette.

        Reply
  5. Greg Hamilton

    Good luck with your knee. I never got to tell you that you were right about used car prices increasing when I thought it wasn’t possible.
    I agree with others in the comment section-get a second opinion and try to stay as active as you can. As Rodney Dangerfield said in “Back to School”–“Do not go gentle into that good night..”

    Reply
  6. Tom Joad

    Does Bark think car prices are ever going back down? Seems like dealers could get used to MSRP being a “good deal” and will pull whatever BS excuses they can use to keep the gravy train going once the shortage ends.

    One local Toyota dealer wouldn’t even sell me a new Sienna without a bunch of useless dealer add-on garbage.

    I will say dealers seem more efficient these days. I signed most paperwork over the phone and only spent 5 minutes in finance with no waiting.

    Guess everything goes quicker when you pay sticker. 🙄

    Reply
  7. John C.

    All the best to you Bark. Even if you are not able to be out there with your children athletically, you are there with them cheering them on, and that is important. I would encourage you either way to take up more intellectual hobbies like in house book clubs or stamp/coin collecting. An advantage of the Baruth IQ is that they will have an avenue not open in most families and the children will over time realize what they can learn and how much is possible to the best and brightest.

    I know from my earlier career what it is like to be out on the road for work and wondering if I had erred on the side of sporty. At the time I had a Saab 9-3 that on it’s best long highway run managed 36 mpg on regular fuel. GM was then coming out with a smaller but related 1.4t that I was sure if I had it in the 9-3 would hit 40mpg. Stupid and weird mental calculations to occupy the many miles. Enjoy what you have.

    Reply
  8. burgersandbeer

    Sorry to hear about this Bark. I’m a few years behind you and one of my knees cracks about everything l every time I bend it past 90 degrees. Sounds like arthritis might be something I have to look forward to.

    Learning to swim definitely sounds like your best bet. Lighter weights for more reps with less rest. Battle ropes. Rowing machine. Boxing. It sucks to be athletically limited, but there is still a lot you can do to keep the weight off.

    Reply
  9. JustPassinThru

    Yes, Bark, old age is coming. And the list of what you can do, is going to shrink. A lot.

    Like you, I was an eight-mile-a-day runner. Up until age 39, I still got some of the miles in. What happened? Work happened. A change in job/career/lifestyle – from having a job with a fixed sleep/wake cycle, to a job where I was on-call, 24/7, with 12-hour shifts, and sitting the whole time. Not even coffee breaks. I went to work on the railroad.

    It came in stages. As a new hire, I was a switchman, working shift jobs and walking/trotting a lot. No real change. Then, promotion, quickly (in a year) two steps to Locomotive Engineer. That had me on the seatbox for the twelve hours or so we were moving, or dawdling, or waiting at red signals. Often times, since there was no set start time, I’d be short on sleep – and once off work, too tired and wiped to jog. Interference with circadian rhythms does that.

    And. My run was Cleveland to Columbus; and our company motel was just off campus at OSU. There was an all-night pizza joint, that made a wicked large three-meat pizza…perfect for coming off work, to eat while watching the then-new History Channel at two in the morning.

    In six months I went from 190 pounds (my ideal weight) to 240 pounds. It took me that long to quit denying reality, but there was NO way I could find time, together with energy, to exercise off that weight.

    Years at it added back issues, and then, with chronic lack of sleep, Type II Diabetes. It runs in my family, but if I hadn’t blimped out, hadn’t tried to live without regular sleep, I’d probably not have gotten it.

    And here I am, 19 years older than you. Winter sports are out – cold feet are a real pain, and diabetes interferes with circulation. Medication three times a day. I eat like a bird – a quarter of what I used to eat, and still I’m barely losing weight. Took me five years of forced medical retirement to drop 20 pounds, and all of that looks to be muscle.

    No pasta. No corn. No ice cream. No hamburgers…not in the bun.

    I can walk fast but not run – back, hip and knee, I blew it out trying to get back into running in 2002. Got better but not right. Tennis and handball are now out.

    I can still hike and ride a motorcycle, but I suspect both of those are soon going to be, if not off-limits, more pain and danger than they’re worth.

    Old age sucks – but the alternative is no better.

    Reply
  10. stingray65

    Sorry to hear about your injury Bark, and I can certainly relate because I have been running for over 45 years, but as I was about to hit 50 my knees really started to bother me and it became so painful to run that I bought a couple of bikes thinking I was going to have to switch training methods to maintain my fitness. I never went to a doctor, but accidently discovered a solution when I started doing some cross-country hiking where I had to pick up my feet and raise my knees to clear rocks, tree branches and roots to traverse the uneven ground, and the pain in my knees started to disappear. I decided to try jogging on the same terrain and the pain was gone and 10 years later I am still running daily through the woods and hills, and my bikes are gathering dust in the garage. I can only speculate that that staying off hard pavement and running on uneven ground changed by running gait enough to change the pressure points on my knees to places where I had more cushion. I also have some senior friends with knee problems that have had some luck with a few brands of running shoes that are extra cushiony (see link) so you might want to investigate that. The key thing is to find a sport or method of training that keeps you active and fit, because the worst thing a person can do for their body (including arthritic joints) is to stop moving and exercising, and while watching what you eat is useful to keep excess weight off painful joints the only way to not deteriorate is to keep burning calories because the more muscle mass you have the more active your metabolism will be and the only way to keep muscle mass is to exercise, and faster metabolism burns calories even when you are cruising down the road in your Genesis or watching your kids play soccer.

    You can also be grateful that you had your injury in the US, because if you had such a non-life-threatening injury in a country with socialized medicine I can guarantee that you would at best have received some pain pills and a cane from your GP with orders to take it easy during the 6 to 12 months you would be waiting to see a joint specialist, and you could forget about a knee replacement unless you could find a private clinic and pay out of your own pocket for the treatment.

    https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a20865760/best-cushioned-running-shoes/

    Reply
    • JustPassinThru

      I can testify to that, Stingray. Touring Banff, eleven years ago, on my then-cycle, a Suzuki…I needed parts and repair. Found myself at a Suzuki dealer in Calgary. The part needed was in the distribution channel, but the parts guy had to make some calls.

      He was walking with crutches and limping terribly.

      While waiting for the regional warehouse to call him back, I got to talking. This was a kid about 23, and limping horribly. Turns out he was a motocross racer; the dealer was a sponsor – may have also employed him when he wasn’t racing, I don’t know.

      But. He went down in a race. Of course they had medical staff standing by; and they got him to a clinic, where he was given evaluation and quick x-rays. He was told his ankles were sprained, and to take it easy for a few days.

      He went home, and they didn’t improve. And they were turning black with subdural bleeding – never a good sign.

      He went to the local Health Ministry clinic-hospital, where he was told the earliest appointment was in three weeks. He was given crutches and told to pack ice on his ankles.

      He did wait, and by the time he got a thorough examination, the breaks had calcified and were not healing properly. SOOOO…he was told he’d need orthopedic surgery on both ankles.

      Earliest date…TEN MONTHS FROM EVALUATION. He was waiting.

      I didn’t have the heart to tell him, had it happened in the States…say in Cleveland…the Cleveland Clinic could have scheduled surgery THAT WEEK, and he’d have his pick of malpractice attorneys on his way out of the hospital.

      I have spent a lot of time in Canada, in the past…and it’s amazing how the good people there are SO sheltered and misinformed about life in the primitive, anti-people, United States. I once spoke with a retired teacher in Toronto – working for the Grey Lines tour company, and I needed direction – we got to talking for 15 minutes, and she was SO CLUELESS about medical realities in the States. The controlled news outlets told Canadians that people died in the gutters for lack of medical care…and having heard this for forty years, they believe it.

      Yes, we are indeed fortunate to be here. That fortune is slowly changing, though…

      Reply
      • rpn453

        Definitely some medical incompetence involved there. I’m in Saskatchewan.

        I was in late-night surgery within hours after each of my two leg breaks. When I was experiencing abdominal pain, I got a blood test that day. Then the doctor called me at home in the evening to schedule an ultrasound for the next morning, and when he saw those results tried to get me a CT scan that afternoon; though it was 2 days later before I could get a slot. For me, everything has usually happened as quickly as I could hope.

        Those were all first-world doctors though. If you don’t already have a good doctor, there’s a decent chance you’ll end up relying on one that makes you wonder if they had proper medical training in whatever country they came from, because the schedules for the good ones will already be full. I once tore a tendon in my finger (mallet finger) and read that it needs to repaired immediately. My doctor was booked up that day but another at the clinic was open so I saw him. He said he’d get me an appointment with a specialist and I never heard back from him. Luckily it somehow reconnected with the constant massaging I was doing on it.

        Probably my worst first-hand story is this: my mother once started having severe abdominal pain while on vacation in Mexico. As a nurse, she had good insurance so was able to get into a first-rate hospital there and they only kept her for a couple days before putting her on a private emergency medical flight back to Canada. The insurance company knew that was cheaper than dealing with the severity of the damage from the as-yet undiagnosed cancer. She was taken to a local hospital immediately after landing, where she was accused of seeking painkillers and sent home. This is a woman who would always have years-old bottles of T3s in her medicine cabinet from previous dental work or whatever. The next day she almost died of sepsis.

        Both of our chemotherapy experiences were very good though. It felt like you had paid for that yourself, rather than simply accepting what was free.

        So quite a mixed bag here. I hope the guy gets serious cash and someone loses their license if he’s crippled for life from this.

        My sister’s best friend lives in Boston and her husband is a tech CEO, so I’ve heard about the primo medical care they get!

        It would be nice to have a private health care system, but completely transparent, and without all the administrative/insurance cronyism.

        Reply
        • stingray65

          I expect the difference in treatment you received vs. the Suzuki guy is that you had a broken bone (serious – might heal wrong if not properly set) and he was diagnosed with a sprain (not deemed serious and can wait some months). Socialized medicine does relatively better with serious/emergency type problems, but you are still usually stuck with less than leading edge drugs and treatments because the state system won’t implement or buy them until they are cheap (i.e. after the Americans pay for all the R&D/overhead and the socialized systems only pay for the variable costs), which is why survival rates for serious cancers, heart disease, and other killer ailments are typically much higher in the USA than Canada or Europe (looking for the cheap option is also why Covid vaccinations were much slower in the Europe than the US). Of course as your mother’s case illustrates, to get the serious/emergency treatment you have to be competently diagnosed, and that is another dirty secret of socialized medicine – they don’t pay their doctors or other medical staff very well and typically rely heavily on imported staff from developing countries who have lower pay demands and much more variable quality training and competence.

          The reason medical systems are so problematic is that they are all designed to cross-subsidize where the healthy subsidize the unhealthy, and the unhealthy tend to be poorer than the healthy so the people that use the most medical services pay little or nothing in terms of insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, or taxes (that pay for socialized medicine), and western nations have developed an expectation that even the most destitute and negligent patient has a “right” to the best treatment available. Furthermore, when most people don’t pay for their own medical services, its tends to reduce the incentive to live healthy and make them price insensitive to the costs of their treatment, which means there is no incentive for the medical system to innovate to cut costs. Thus healthy living Bark’s fees and insurance premiums are higher than they need to be to pay the medical treatments for druggies who haven’t worked an honest day’s work in their life.

          Reply
  11. MD Streeter

    Not that I’m bragging, but I used to be a big deal in the SimCity 4 community. Another prominent member of our site was an older gentleman who was well into retirement and had more free time to bless us all with his well-earned wisdom than any of the rest of us. He passed away some 6 years ago after several lengthy absences dealing with medical problems that come with old age. One of his favorite things to say was “Don’t let anyone fool you: getting old sucks.” I had thought that was rather humorous when he told us that (repeatedly), but a year ago I turned 40 and that winter, a few short months earlier, I fell down our snow-covered steps and hurt my back. It was far more intense pain than I have ever experienced in my life and even as I eased back into exercising it lingers. It’s no longer so bad, but I’ll never bend at the waist to pick up even the smallest of items again, and though it not be wise, I still play catch with my son and afterwards slather myself with icy-hot anti-pain goop. Bark, you have not just my sympathy, but my empathy as well. Bouncing back from anything will never be as easy as it was in years past (“getting old sucks”), but at least we have some experience and perhaps a little caution and can adapt. I hope you can adjust to life on your knee in its current state and, if not thrive then at least plod forth in some form of contentment or happiness.

    Reply
  12. hank chinaski

    The more weight you put on the faster the joint will go, so diet and whatever it takes to keep it off. That and having one limb ‘off’ is like having a wheel badly out of balance leading to either joint or more likely low back problems up the chain. Rucking say 3 miles with a 25-40# pack is lower impact than plyo, but still pretty good cardio, and fun if you can get to wooded trails. Some swear by fasting. I found SeanT and TonyH got really old after a couple of cycles each. There’s the center of a Venn of what you’re ‘allowed’ to do, what you are capable of doing, and what doesn’t hurt, and finding that takes time. A new knee isn’t the end of the world, but at only 43 you may be getting another (or two) down the line. Partial knee replacements are around, but I’ve no idea if any good. An older ortho I used to know had the saying ‘when do you want your pain free interval to start’.

    Reply
  13. ComfortablyNumb

    That sucks, Bark. But I’ve heard a lot of newly re-knee’d people wonder why they didn’t do it sooner. Knee replacement materials, techniques, and recovery times get better all the time. Once cortisone shots become the regular, it’s time.

    Might you be able to resurrect the Listening Room with some of this time that you no longer spend building up scar tissue?

    Reply
  14. David Florida

    Knee replacement surgeries could potentially become less common – there’s some interesting work happening with stem cells and hyaluronic acid. But I suspect that I will need to become ever more vigilant in my food choices in order to participate in that future. Inflammation comes from a lot of sources; shelf-stable foods are a fine place to start looking.

    Mark, have you heard of Diamond Dallas Page? Professional wrestling seemed a strange place to look for inspiration, but that guy went from serious back injury to Champion on the strength gained from his adapted yoga routines. Might be worth a try.

    Reply
  15. D Stanley

    I’m 55 and can confirm that it’s best to maintain your fitness level than to let it slip, to add on 50 pounds, and struggle to get it back off (which is what happened to me). Also at 55, the…responsiveness in the bedroom can be hit or miss, so for that reason alone, keeping off the extra weight is worth the effort. Don’t just let yourself go. You’ll feel awful.

    Reply
  16. -Nate

    Mark ;

    You’re getting a lot of free sage advice here, the most important thing is to keep moving ~ when I crashed my Moto the last time they wanted to replace both knees as they had the surgery suite open for unlimited time , in spite of the pain I sad no, they spent over 4 hours on just my left had/arm/wrist and I followed all the physical therapy exactly, I’m never going to run again but I can walk with minimal discomfort (I’m told I walk like Charlie Chaplin now) and I can ride a Motocycle .

    Point being yes, getting old isn’t easy but you _can_ remain mobile and have fun with your kids ~ I have a great grandson who likes me to play with him and I do , it’s not terribly painful because rather than waste time trying to run or lift weights, I focused on flexibility and range of movement .

    Jim ;

    _YES_ you can and should take the time to learn how to ride ! .

    Don’t buy a heavy bike to begin with, a 200# 250CC twin will be fine and get you on the freeway, they’re dirt cheap new Chinese or one / two years old Japanese .

    Motocycling is and should always be _FUN_ ! those who wrestle a big V-Twin are missing out ~ I know, I rode Harleys for decades & set a record on one in 1976 then got tired of kids on lighter bikes whizzing past me in the twisty bits .

    Those who chose their rides for what others think they look like, are not having 1/2 the fun you will .

    To – Day I’m riding a 48 year old 600CC BMW air cooled twin, it’s light and has good balance, goes over 100MPH (I don’t ride that fast anymore) so choose your mount carefully .

    The proper training class will have smaller bikes, 125 or larger, easy to learn on and easy to pick up if you drop it .
    -Nate

    Reply
  17. galactagog

    Tell me about CDN medical timeframes: I damaged my left knee in taekwondo, and was limping around for a year before I got into arthroscopic surgery. Like Bark they cut out the damaged bits. I stopped running.

    Although running on trails/dirt/uneven ground is surely much better for you than pounding asphalt & pavement.

    Good luck with your recovery. And moderation of old age.

    I often have to restrain myself from risky physical activity; stories like this are a good reminder. And usually it’s some stupid minor spill that causes the worst damage.

    Reply
  18. Pingback: There But For The Grace of God – Musings from Brian J. Noggle

  19. Frank Williams

    I blew out the first disc in my lower back at age 40. My first hip replacement was at age 50. Now I’m up to 4 lumbar surgeries (including a ton of hardware), three cervical surgeries (including one artificial vertebra) and I’ve had 4 hip replacements (one of the left, three on the right). I’m 68 now and sometimes I wonder what’ll go next. After a while, though, you realize that you just learn to do what you can with what you have left, and just be glad that what’s left still works OK.

    Reply
  20. ScottS

    “unless I do some severely restrictive dieting”

    Not severely restrictive, just different. You’ll need to eliminate most forms of sugar.

    My friend Jorge lost both legs and most of his fingers to an IED. No doubt his life is very different from the one he would have had if his body had remained intact, but it is full to overflowing and spending time with him makes anything I am dealing with seem trivial. Your cup is way more than half full.

    Reply
  21. Ronnie Schreiber

    When I broke my knee the cartilage was displaced but not torn so the doc just popped it back in place and considering everything the knee still works pretty good. Makes some noise sometimes I have more trouble with pateler tendonitis in my good knee. Sometimes I have to climb stairs backwards.

    I’m 66 and when I lay down in bed at night so many things hurt that I literally laugh.

    Reply
  22. Compaq Deskpro

    Back in 2017 I merged onto the highway on my Yamaha R3 and I didn’t spend enough time looking in my mirror, so I wasn’t prepared for the bus that moved into my lane and ran me off the road. Luckily I landed off to the right side and not in the middle of the road. Broke the tibia and fibula, and shredded the side of my calf, necessitating a skin graft that looks like a piece of chicken meat on the side of my leg. Spent 3 weeks in the hospital and 3 weeks in rehab, mostly because I would faint every time I stood up. Took me a year before I could run again, but never as fast. I had it for 2 years, I enjoyed driving a light weight high revving vehicle, but I never truly got comfortable with steering it, and I never had the urge to get back on a motorcycle again. I’ll aim for a Miata or Integra if I want that type of driving experience.

    Reply
    • -Nate

      Thanx C.D. ;

      I’ve met more than a few folks and couple over 65 who took up Motocycle riding after they retired , all were loving the view and haveing the best time of their lives before the diapers and wheel chairs .

      I hear that 1971’s “On Any Sunday” movie has been re mastered and will be in theatres soon, I highly recommend everyone to go see this movie on the big screen .

      Motocycling can be whatever you want it to be : escape, relaxation, spine tingling excitement, on and on…..

      When that movie came out I was riding an old 1964 Honda Benly 150 as fast as it’d go every where, dirt roads included .

      It didn’t go very fast but it helped firmly set the hook that’s still giving me enjoyment _fifty_ years later….

      I think anyone who has the slightest interest should give it a try, just don’t plan to be Eveil Knievel or Dennis Hopper the first year you’re astride .

      -Nate

      Reply
  23. goose

    hey Bark what is going on in that photo at the top, anyway?

    Are you stealing Jack’s guitar solo?

    you should have a caption contest

    Reply
      • Jack Baruth

        It’s neither! Bark will supply the fellow’s name, but he’s a somebody in the world of blues, Jeff somebody. He and Bark did a tour a while back.

        Reply
  24. DougD

    Damn, sorry to hear that. I did my meniscus over 10 years ago. Squatted down to look at something, felt it give way and that was it. I can walk and swim, but it never healed enough for me to run. Very sad to not be able to run with the kids, but I’ve enjoyed the things I can do.

    I can ride a bike thanks to the TerraCycle Easy Knees crank stroke shortener. Genuine made in America quality item too. Look it up if you’re having bike troubles.

    Reply
  25. AoLetsGo

    43! Ha!
    Last year retired from my career job.
    I am in my 60’s now and this year my summer gig is a job every kid would be envious of. It’s an outside, on your feet job that can be brutal at times. I am working over 50 hours a week including some 14 hour days and all of my coworkers are 20-25 years old. I have earned their respect by working hard and never, ever complaining.
    Of course I don’t tell them about my shelf full of vitamins and supplements and when I get home at 8pm after a 14 hour shift, it’s a cold beer followed by whiskey, Advil, CBD/THC ointment and icy hot.
    The money earned is irrelevant, it’s the enjoyment I get from the job and the fact I can still do it and that maybe next year I won’t be able to…

    Reply
  26. John G.

    Bark, I would get a second opinion: read ‘No Grain, No Pain.’ It is written by a nutritionally-trained chiropractor. He is a first-class physician, in Texas. His core message is that food allergies wreak havoc on our body in entirely unexpected ways. Eating food that you are allergic to puts you in a chronic, systemic state of inflammation. Such results in achy backs and knees (‘osteoarthritis’), vascular disease (e.g., angina), stuffy nose, loss of hair, smelly feet. I know, because I had all those symptoms, beginning back in my late 30s. 10 years ago, I learned about food allergies, got tested, and found I was allergic to wheat and dairy. Within two weeks of stopping eating those items, one day I noticed, ‘Wow, my knees are not achy.’

    By stopping eating wheat and dairy, I dropped 20 lbs. without even trying. Your body stores toxins — such as allergenic proteins from wheat and dairy — in cells, causing the cells to retain water, raising your weight (and in your case, your waste size). Stop eating allergenic foods and start eating good food — lots of vegetables, fruit, and properly prepared grains and legumes — and your body detoxes, allowing your cells to shed their toxic load and water, resulting in rapid weight loss.

    I am so much healthier now than I was 20 years ago (I am a fit and trim 59; at my high school/college weight without even trying, have not been to a physician or had prescription medication in 12 years, low blood pressure and resting heart rate, 90% due to eating good food/10% due to exercising a bit).

    Just food for thought!

    Best wishes on your recovery, Bark!

    Reply
  27. Danio

    I feel this. Not quite as severe, but last week I tore a hamstring loading a very heavy duty cherry picker into my truck, by myself. Of course by myself, I’ve done this 50 times before. Lift with your legs, not your back. Rip. A week later, it’s no better where when I was younger something like this would go away in a few days. I’m not old, but feeling older sucks,

    Reply

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