Relatively Speaking: Local man’s meniscus crushed by falling tree

By Raul Ascunce

Back in September, I tore my meniscus. Before this injury, I thought a meniscus was something that was thrown by naked men in ancient Olympics, you know, the meniscus throwers.

It turns out in real life you don’t throw a meniscus, you tear them. While it is not an official event, I’ll bet a lot of meniscuses are torn at the Olympics.

The injury occurred while cutting down a tree in my backyard. For the record, the tree did not fall on my meniscus. That would have been a great headline, “Local man’s meniscus crushed by falling tree.” But no, I tore my meniscus squatting. You know you’re old when you can seriously hurt yourself just by squatting.

After two days of squatting and chain-sawing branches, I went to stand and I could not get up. (I really should look into Life Alerts.)

“Honey,” I yelled to the wife, “I can’t stand up.”

“Just a minute, I’ll play the National Anthem on my phone. You always stand for that,” she said helpfully.

“No, my right knee doesn’t work. It feels as though someone is stabbing me in the knee.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s assault with a deadly weapon. I saw that on ‘Law and Order.’ Tell them to stop stabbing you or I’ll call the police.”

“No one is stabbing me,” I said, “It just feels like it. I can’t get up. Can you help me?”

“Of course, dear,” the wife said, “as soon as my nails are dry.”

After two weeks of limping around on a bum knee the wife decided I should get it checked out.

“I have made an appointment for you to see an orthopedic surgeon. It pains me to see you hobbling around like a Hobbit with gout. Your appointment is on Friday.”

So I went to my appointment and sure enough, a meniscus is not something naked Olympians throw, it’s something old guys tear from squatting. Six weeks of physical therapy was prescribed to see if it could heal without surgery.

Now as a person who is not fond of being touched by complete strangers, I was opposed to physical therapy.

“Can’t I just have the surgery?” I said to the wife. “Then at least I’ll be unconscious when they touch my leg.”

“You are being ridiculous. I have been to this physical therapy clinic before. Those people are total professionals.”

“But my knees are ticklish. You are the only other person who has ever touched my knees. If somebody else touches them, I would feel so cheap.”

“Oh, for crying out loud. All the physical therapists are going to do is give you exercises to strengthen the muscles around your knees. Deal with it.”

For six weeks I reported for physical therapy where professionals assessed my injury, prescribed a series of exercises, and helped me heal my torn meniscus. It was amazing.

“Dear, I’m very proud of you for sucking it up and doing the physical therapy to avoid surgery,” the wife said.

“My knee is totally healed,” I said. “And if you’re a good girl, I’ll let you tickle my knee. ”

“If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll pass,” she said blowing on her nails.

Raul Ascunce is a freelance columnist for the Sentinel-Tribune. He may be contacted at [email protected].