Wife: "Are you ready for your second total knee replacement this morning. Are you at all afraid?"
Me: "You know I'm not afraid of anything."
Wife: "What about the spider in the laundry room last night."
Me: "It was big and hairy and it just surprised me, that's all."
Wife: "They could hear you scream in the next block. And as I recall you weren't too fond of the yellow jackets when you stepped on their nest this summer and that snake you found in the garden set you running."
Me: "Let's talk about something else."
Wife: "What time is your surgery?"
Me: "At 9:30 a.m. And I can't have any food, water or anything else to eat after midnight. Not even ice cream."
Wife: "How do you feel about that?"
Me: "Not great. So I'm planning to stay up until midnight and eat and drink everything I can find in the house."
Wife: "I don't think that's what they have in mind."
Me: "All they said was nothing after midnight. But surely they didn't mean cold pizza. After midnight is the normal time for getting up and eating cold pizza."
Wife: "You better just do what the doctor tells you to do."
Me: "I always do what he says. That's why I'm having two separate surgeries instead of getting them both done at the same time. He prefers to do it this way. And I prefer to never disagree with a guy who makes his living wielding a knife."
Wife: "And you come home on Thursday?"
Me: "Yes. You have to take me home Thursday."
Wife: "Well, I don't know if I have to. What if I decline to take you back? You know, you have a whole floor full of doctors, nurses, technicians and aides taking care of you at the hospital. But when you come home it's just me."
Me: "I know. I've been thinking about getting a bell to set beside my lounge chair so I can ring for you when I want you."
Wife: "I would strongly recommend you rethink that."
Me: "At least I know the routine now. It's surgery in the morning and by afternoon the PT people come by, get me on my feet and make me start to bend my new knee."
Wife: "What's a PT?"
Me: "A Physical Terrorist. You'll know when they're in the house or my hospital room. They'll be bending the new knee and I'll be screaming."
Wife: "Just like with the spider."
Me: "I thought we dropped that."
Wife: "Your first surgery went very well."
Me: "Yes it did. I'm actually so impressed with the skill and knowledge of the surgeon, the anesthesiologists, the nurses, and the techs and on and on. They are all amazing. I keep reminding myself that 50 years ago when people had knees like mine they ended up in a wheel chair. I'm very fortunate. And there are other people I want to thank."
Wife: "Like your wife?"
Me: "Of course. But as a retired guy I'm really talking about thanking all the working people who are paying FICA taxes. To all of you who are still working – thanks for the new knees! Now I'm wondering if a new hip would help my golf swing."
Wife: "Don't push your luck. The doctor said nothing could improve your golf game. How much do these new knees cost?"
Me: "I don't know for sure. Dr. Internet tells me everything included they run about $30,000 to $45,000 per knee. So it's like I have a new car on each leg."
Wife: "Try not to get any dents in them. Are you concerned about the scars?"
Me: "No. I like them. They make me look tough. I've been telling people they're from an old football injury. I played football in school. In the summer of 1970 I got a tryout with the Chicago Bears. I got into a blood pit competition with Dick Butkus. You line up two feet apart and crash into each other. We both came out with damaged knees. I was finished. Butkus played a few more years but was never the same. He hasn't spoken to me since. To this day, I promise you, if I call him on the phone he won't take my call."
Wife: "Does anyone believe this story?"
Me: "They believe I'm a little crazy."
Wife: "What do you recommend to other people thinking about total knee replacement?"
Me: "I think they should go for it. Your knee feels much better, you can do things you weren't able to do. Your quality of life improves."
Wife: "Is there anything else you want people to know?"
Me: "Just this. There's one more thing I'm thankful for."
Wife: "Your overall good health, the strong genes you got from your parents, the support of your family?"
Me: "Those are all great. But this morning I'm mostly thankful God gave us only two knees."
If I had needed a third total knee replacement this summer that might have really pushed me over the edge.
Copyright John Norberg