Knee update: Options, questions, and costs

Here’s where the knee stands: I tore my meniscus. That’s a ligament somewhere in the vast and complex machinery of the knee. The specialist I met Thursday showed me where it was on a model. I’ve looked at pictures of it online.

All I see is money burning up like embers in a campfire and drifting off into the night sky.

This is going to be expensive

My knee blew up June 29. The first night was so painful, I couldn’t move. I took an ambulance ride ($$$$) to the emergency room ($$$$$) to get checked out.

They referred me to a specialist ($$$$). The specialist gave me a lot of options for the present and the long term.

Present options include a brace ($$$) — which needs to be custom-fitted because I’m morbidly obese ($$$$$). I’m also starting physical therapy ($$$$$), first visit $400.

Also, at age 46, I’m getting a walker ($$). The walker also needs to be custom fitted because I’m morbidly obese ($$$$).

Future options include an MRI ($$), a potential scope of the knee to trim off the torn portion of the meniscus ($$$$) or a complete knee replacement ($$$$$$$$$).

(So, if you’ve ever thought, I enjoy and ought to make a donation, now’s would be a good time — with a heartfelt thanks to all previous patrons, of course.)

The plan for now

The plan I made was to use assistive devices — brace, cane, and walker — to get me through until I can get a school district contract with health insurance that covers more than the lighter fluid for the crematorium.

I am walking better. I look like one of those people pretending to be tin robots in old Republic serials.

A brief digression

What? You people never watched “Matinee at the Bijou” on PBS when you were kids? You have not lived until you’ve seen Gene Autry, “The Singing Cowboy” himself, fight a robot.

Ah, hell.

I’m showing my age.

“Matinee at the Bijou” was a PBS show from 1980 to 1985. I watched on Saturday afternoons and picked up a weird nostalgia for a time and place I never lived and an America that never existed.

Anyway, back to the metaphor that turned into a digression, I walk wobbly.

Hacks for standing up

Standing is a two-part event. I think about it for a good minute. Then I do it, but it takes a bit to stretch out tight tendons and put the weight in the places that hurts the least.

The first step is really a sidestep. I bring my least damaged knee a little closer to the center of my body.

Then I lurch forward. Eventually, I develop a step and drag system that converts to something somewhat like walking.

Physical grace has never been my top characteristic, but it’s worse than that now.

Slogging through life

The upside is there’s a plan in place, with plenty of question marks, of course.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to be getting to classes this fall. I’ll consult with Drake’s people next week.

It doesn’t matter. I’m going to figure this out.

I survive.

That’s what I do.

One of these days I’ll learn how to thrive.

Daniel P. Finney writes columns for, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I continue writing while I pursue my master’s degree and teacher certification. 
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311. 

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