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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

What kind of a rundown joint is this?

Feb 24, 2022 01:59PM ● By Denise Thiery

From somewhere in the midst of a heartfelt bear hug came a loud pop!

“Was that you or me, and which aged joint was it?” I asked my husband.

“Beats me,” he said, “but nothing seems to have fallen off, so I guess we’re okay.”

My husband has had surgical repairs on both knees, followed by replacements of both, then a re-do of one replacement which failed. Then his cervical spine issues required the implanting of metal screws and plates in his neck. It’s like being married to the bionic man. 

In fact, he has so much metal in his body that I came up with a plan. I would buy a huge magnet and force him to accompany me against his will to every mall and craft show. That plan failed when I found out that metal joint replacements are made of titanium, which is not magnetic. Drat!

Then my own joints began to fail me. The rotator cuff in my shoulder tore and the bicep detached, requiring surgery and months of therapy. When I filled out the orthopedic surgeon’s survey, one of the questions was, “Can you throw a softball overhand with the affected arm?”

“Well, no,” I answered, “but that has more to do with my lifelong complete lack of athletic ability than the torn shoulder. Let me alter that answer a bit. I can throw a softball overhand, but it will slam into the ground about 18 inches in front of me, and it will not matter which arm I use. It’s like asking me if I can roll a bowling ball down the alley with the affected arm. I can, but it still will be a gutter ball regardless of which arm I use.”

He should have asked me something more relevant to me personally, like, “With the affected arm, are you able to scoop ice cream from a pint that’s been buried in the back of the freezer for at least six months?”

My answer would be, “Yes, I will make that happen, even if it causes the affected arm to snap off at the shoulder. Tape the spoon to my stump. Let’s be honest, though. No pint of ice cream has ever lasted six months in my freezer. Sometimes it doesn’t even make it home from the store, which is why there is a spoon in the glove compartment of my car.”

My shoulder surgery was followed by months of painful physical therapy. I needed lots of help bathing and dressing. This prompted me to ask my husband why he could get a bra off me in mere seconds when we were young, but it now took him at least 10 minutes of fumbling frustration and hilarity to put one on me.

Then one of my knees needed surgical repair. If you’re doing the math, that’s six knee surgeries between us, even though we have the standard issue of two legs each. I am worried that I will have to carry my husband around (now that my shoulder has healed) by hopping on my one good leg until it too fails.

When I was young and all my joints were functional and pain-free, I used to wonder why seniors often backed out of parking spaces without even turning their heads to look first. Now I get it. It’s because their arthritic necks have seized up like the motor on my old Buick when I ignored the “low oil level” warning light.

My own arthritic neck has begun to painfully snap, crackle and pop like breakfast cereal, and causes my husband to peer into the room and ask, “Are you making popcorn? I’ll take a bag of that.” 

I’d throw my head back and laugh if each movement of my head didn’t feel like being stabbed in the neck with an ice pick. I flipped him off instead, but due to the arthritic, swollen joint in my middle finger, which makes an abrupt turn at about a 30-degree angle, it just looked like I was pointing out the nearest window.

“What?” he asked, peering out the window. “Do we have company?” I threw the nearest pillow at him, and I distinctly felt something pop in my other shoulder. 

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