Tuesday Bag o’ Knees

bag of kneesProving once again that you can find anything with Google image search, here is a literal bag o’ knees.

So what shall we blog about today? Knees, maybe? Yes, knees. I spent the weekend doing normal things: normal as in the kinds of things people with normal knees do. Walking and riding my motorcycle, mostly. Monday I spent the afternoon at my buddy Ed’s garage working on the Goldwing,* which involved a lot of sitting down on and standing up from a low shop stool, fetching parts and tools, even kneeling on the concrete floor. Donna and I had intended to go walking in downtown Tucson that night, but after finishing up at Ed’s my new knee felt like it needed a rest, so we bailed on the walk.

This morning, Tuesday, it felt great again, and I went to my final physical therapy appointment. Flying colors, I’m pleased to say. I can bend the new knee all the way to 122°, climb stairs, do deep knee bends and squats, and lift myself up from a sitting position on a very low platform with just my legs. Apart from a few twinges of pain, I’m back to where I was ten years ago. When I got home this morning I rode my old hybrid bike up and down the street. Later this morning I’m going to stop at the Anytime Fitness gym near our house and sign up on a month-by-month basis so I can continue to work out on stationary bikes like I did during my PT sessions.

Tomorrow I’ll be leading walking tours at the air museum again (note to self: review aircraft data sheets first). Life is good. I realize now that my recovery from knee replacement surgery** (apart, that is, from the scary setback when they thought I might have a bacterial infection and stuck a PICC line in me to pump antibiotics into my bloodstream three times a day for two weeks) has gone exceptionally well. Hashing, hiking, and bicycling kept my strength up and made me better able to withstand all this violence to my knee. I am thankful everything has gone so well.

*The Wing’s taillights, after 12 years and 74,000 miles, started burning out one by one, so I decided to replace them all. I’m on my third set of headlight bulbs, and those are still fresh, so all I needed were the automotive-style bulbs you use in turn signals and brake lights. It seemed like such a simple task. The Wing, like most cars today, uses sealed light units, two on the top saddlebag and one each on the side saddlebags. You remove some small acorn nuts inside the bags and pull the light units out and away to get to the bulb sockets.

2013-03-19 11.16.12
Taillight units

But when Ed and I tried to remove the acorn nuts for the top left unit, the studs turned too, making it impossible to loosen that unit and get to the bulbs. It just so happened Ed had a replacement upper left light unit (he could probably build a new Wing with the parts he has on hand) that matched my bike, but the only way to get the old unit out was to drill through the red plastic lens, then drill through the chrome-plated inner lining, in order to get to the back of the studs that were turning. I understood what Ed was doing, and the necessity of it, but watching him take that big old nasty drill to my pristine motorcycle, then rip out shards of red plastic brake light lens with a huge pair of pliers, was like watching the dental torture scene in Marathon Man. It was a shock.

I needn’t have despaired, though. The old unit finally came out, the new unit went in, and all is well. Next week we’re going to take another ride to Bisbee for lunch, and this time I’ll be trying out a spare set of old-man highway pegs from Ed’s parts bin: just the thing, Ed says, for sore knees on long motorcycle trips. Good thing, too, because I’m planning just such a trip in May.***

**Perhaps you’ve heard of Time Magazine’s recent exposé on hospital costs, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Expenses Are Killing Us. Donna and I are looking over a Tricare statement showing what was billed for my recent knee replacement surgery and hospital stay. Some items of note:

Semi-private room   $4,608.00
Pharmacy   $1,832,85
Supplies $15,912.05
Operating room   $5,318.00
Laboratory   $2,891.00
Anesthesia   $1,212.00
Physical therapy     $926.00

Supplies include things like gauze pads, tape, and the marker pen the doctor used to write FIX THIS KNEE on my left foot and NO NO on my right foot. Jesus. Read that article in Time. No wonder our national healthcare “system” is so expensive!

***My upcoming May motorcycle trip is beginning to gel. The day-to-day itinerary will be Tucson to Las Vegas (one night), west via Bakersfield to San Jose (one night), north to San Francisco and Marin County (two nights), on north to Clear Lake (one night), over to Sacramento (two nights), back down I-5 to LA (one night), back to Las Vegas (one night), then home. A ten-day trip in all, maybe 2,500 miles. Now it’s just a matter of coordinating with friends on the right dates. In September I hope to make the Four Corners run to Durango, Colorado, then ride north to Ouray to spend a couple of nights with friends there. Next March my friend Ed wants me to ride to Key West and Daytona with him, a 5,000 mile-plus ride.

One last thing. Except for the nightly news, we haven’t watched network TV for some time. Donna still catches NCIS from time to time, but that’s about it. The shows we follow are all on cable: Justified, The Americans, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad. I guess Downton Abbey’s an exception, being PBS, but in general no network TV for us. Last night I wanted to read, so Donna took the remote and went looking for something to watch. She settled on an ABC series called Castle. I perked up when I saw it starred Nathan Fillon from Firefly, but after listening to a few lines I realized Castle was aimed at the lowest common denominator, and I guess that’s why network TV shows are no longer worth watching: they’ve been dumbed down to the point where you feel guilty even being in the same room as the TV. You’d think the network folks would take a hint from the wild success of smart shows like Breaking Bad, wouldn’t you? What is wrong with them? Are people in general really so stupid they prefer shows like Castle to shows like Justified?

Now that I’ve shown myself to be the elitist snob you always thought I was, I’ll bid you farewell for now. Take care of your knees, y’all.

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