Knee Surgery & A Summer to Remember
My wife recently had arthroscopic surgery to repair two torn meniscus (menisci?) in her right knee. The photo above was taken shortly after the out patient procedure. She could stand and walk right away and after two weeks, thankfully, she’s doing very well, which means nurse Dave’s duties are over.
Almost 50 years ago, I had surgery for a similar knee problem, requiring a three inch incision that took more than a year to recuperate. The damage occurred during a pick-up basketball game at college. I was attempting to block a shot on a breakaway layup by an opponent. The shot was blocked Lebron-style (right!), but I came down hard on my right knee and was in severe pain. After hobbling off the court, I struggled back to my fraternity house several blocks away to tend to the knee.
Later that summer, I went under the knife to repair the damage. My doctor was the same orthopedic surgeon in Dayton who had successfully rebuilt the achilles tendon of a high school classmate Larry after he suffered a farm accident (Larry eventually became the best man at my wedding). After the operation, I recall being in the hospital for several days, and then being on crutches for about a month. Finally as the summer was nearing an end, I was cleared to drive, even though it was a challenge since my ‘62 Chevy had a clutch and stick shift. So with nothing else to do, I headed back to school at General Motors Institute in Flint, MI a week early, going the long way around Lake Michigan as shown in the map below.
First stop was Chicago, where I met a friend from high school who worked there. We attended a Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field and saw some of the other sights around Chicago. I still had a big brace on my knee to keep it stable, so it was somewhat of a chore to get around, but at that age, who cared.
Next stop was Madison, WI, where I met up with a fraternity brother who showed me all the hot spots in that college town. Heading further north the next day brought me to Green Bay, where I toured Lambeau Field, the site of the NFL Championship game between the Packers and Cowboys a year earlier. This was before the Super Bowl existed. The game was dubbed the Ice Bowl as the temperature was -15 degrees with a wind chill of -70!. In my view, the Ice Bowl was the best NFL game ever as the Packers won 17-14 on a last second quarterback sneak by Bart Starr.
Next stop was Sault Saint Marie to see the Soo Locks and the gigantic lake freighters. Going through at the time was the ore ship pictured below that was owned by Ford Motor Company and named after Henry Ford II. Little did I know that someday I’d be working for the company and meet the boat’s namesake, Ford’s CEO, nicknamed Hank the Deuce.
Heading south from the Soo brought me to the Big Mac, the bridge connecting Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, which was a real treat, as it gave a wonderful vista of the straits.
Mackinac Island island was nearby, but the ferry and room costs would have left me little spending money for the upcoming semester at college. So heading further south, my next stop was Houghton Lake, a pristine lake with some great beaches. While spending the afternoon on the beach, with plans to head further south to Flint that evening, I was told about an open air dance hall called the Music Box along the shores of the lake. So later that evening, off I went to the dance hall pictured below. It reminded me of Eagle Park in Minster and Lindhaus Park in Ft. Loramie, but with no ceiling over the dance floor. And boy was it packed with beach blonde, sun tanned girls vacationing up north. They all loved dancing to the rock music under the stars. But with my bum knee, dancing was a problem, so I instead played the sympathy card to perfection, sitting next to the dance floor with my wrapped knee propped up on a chair. The girls would all come up to ask what happened. I was in seventh heaven and in no pain!
Made it to Flint the next day and started my sophomore year at college, after a summer that started out problematically but ended in a way I’ll never forget. And the knee is still going strong, allowing me to play tennis, golf, walk and ride a bike with regularity and still no pain. Here’s hoping my wife has similar results.