The new semester started roughly for the old newsman. Surgeons cut torn cartridge out of his left knee 10 days before the first day of school.
He thought that would be enough time for him to recover before traversing campus with his cane.
He was wrong.
After two days, his leg hurt so badly he could barely walk. He went to a post-surgery visit with his doctor. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and a walker.
The old newsman asked for the walker.
He resisted it for some time, but the reality set in. The cane worked fine for short trips. But to move on a schedule, he needed more help.
This bothered the old newsman more than he wanted to admit. His obesity had long been a problem, but now his body felt like it was breaking down.
He wasn’t out of it, yet. No, the old newsman still had more adventures in him.
But, still, he did not expect to be cutting tennis balls for the legs of his walker at age 46.
The old newsman didn’t get much of a chance to try out his walker before he got knocked on his bulbous butt by what our best scientists can only describe as “a stomach bug.”
There is probably a more ominous name for the affliction, but this is what is understood and spoken by layman, nurse, and doctor alike.
The old newsman thought “up down” would be an appropriate moniker.
The virus gets a person up and down out of bed with frequent trips to the bathroom to dispose of the sick in a variety of ways.
His fever hit 102.0 on the first day and slowly fell to 99.1 and eventually normal ranges. He eventually kept down five saltine crackers and a few sips of sugar-free sports drink.
The newsman recovered, though not before making several pledges to God about future swearing and church attendance.
The dehydration he endured, however, complicated a longstanding issue with his calf muscles. Without the proper electrolyte balance, his calves tend to pull and knot up like a string of last year’s Christmas lights.
This latest pull came in the shower and nearly sent his massive frame to the tile floor, which likely would have resulted in another visit from the fellows at Fire Station No. 4.
The old newsman already owes them money from their visit in late June, the day he tore the cartridge in his knee.
These calf knots need to be massaged with heat applied.
The old newsman does his best, but it’s the kind of job you need extra hands for.
His former physical therapist, Stefanie Mullins, used a series of metal tools to divide and straighten the jumbled muscle fibers.
The old newsman often told her that if the physical therapy thing didn’t work out, she had a future as demonstrator of Medieval torture at a living history museum.
Her method was preferrable to the one used at his former gym, where one of the trainers took a 45-pound bar and rolled it over the lump in the calf until, apparently, it collapsed like a can of pizza sauce under a steamroller.
Neither of these methods were available to the old newsman at the time of the most recent calf injury. So, he ordered up some compression socks.
He ordered black. Black is cool. Socks should only be black, gray, or white. The old newsman is conservative about socks.
Unfortunately, he received beige. Beige is the color of nursing home feet.
Nobody in the history of fashion has ever said, “You know, this outfit needs more beige.” No, what they say is, “That beige really highlights the blandness of your personality and overall social invisibility.”
So come Monday morning, when you, dear reader, are likely reading this over your Raisin Bran and cup of maple nut crunch from your Keurig, the old newsman will be gingerly preparing to return to campus.
The 6-4, too-big-to-weigh-at-home man will don a t-shirt with some comic book nonsense on it, wrinkled khakis, tightly laced New Balance shoes, his Yankees cap, and smartly accessorize with his new walker built especially for the big and tall man, yellow tennis balls replaced with sleek new skis, and tan compression socks.
Whatever happens in your day, keep that image in mind.
He hopes the amusement salves whatever indignities your workplace might savage upon you this Monday.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
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