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Exercising? On My Knees?

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Mike hobbled to the curb to get his newspaper. He was careful how he bent over. He didn’t want to aggravate the pain in his left knee. As he slowly bent back up, he saw Robert walking – or was he running? – down the sidewalk towards him.

“Robert, where you goin’? To a fire?”

“Nope. Just exercising,” Robert huffed as he approached his friend. Mike couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew Robert had osteoarthritis in his left hip, bad enough to be thinking about hip replacement surgery. “What? On that bad hip? Are you supposed to be exercising with arthritis?”

“Yep. Doctor’s orders.” Robert paused in front of his friend and caught his breath.

“But I thought you weren’t supposed to exercise if you had arthritis. Bad for the joints, you know. Bone rubbing on bone and all of that.” Mike rubbed his forehead, trying to understand. “Are you sure that’s what your doctor said – go out and run like the dogs were after you?”

“Do you see me running?” Robert asked smartly. “No. Just walking at a good pace. Just lubricatin’ the old hip joint like the physical therapist said.” Robert patted his left hip in reassurance.

“Lubricatin’ the hip?”

“Yeah. The PT guy said that the lining of my hip joint needs to squeeze out more fluid into my joint, like a sponge. The fluid keeps my joint lubricated, keeps down the wear and tear, keeps things loosened up, too.”

“Keeps things loosened up? But I thought . . . I mean the doctor told me . . .” Mike was searching his mind. What had the doctor told him 18 months ago?

“Buddy, you need to get back and see your doctor again,” Robert said with a grin. “I’ll bet the doc didn’t say to lay around like a couch potato.”

“No-o-o-o.” Now Mike was looking for an excuse.

“In fact, I’ll bet the doc said to move your knee – it’s your left knee, right?”

Mike nodded in agreement. “But it hurts when I move it like you’re doing.”

“I’ll bet the doc said to exercise your knee gently – and gradually increase your exercise, didn’t he?” Robert grinned sheepishly. “Fact is, I was doin’ what you’re doin’ – taking my pain medicines and nursing my hip along, sitting in a chair, hardly movin’ it. And guess what, it was getting tighter and more painful. I was taking more and more pain meds. So I went to see my doctor and he said, ‘Get off the couch and walk – carefully.’ Then he sent me to the physical therapist and he taught me how to walk carefully and gently. But he said to walk as well. So I’m walkin’ – not runnin’ – walkin’.

“Know what? My hip’s gettin’ loose again – not so tight any more – and the pain is less. I don’t have to take so much pain medicine – and…” Robert poked Mike in the chest with his forefinger. “And – Doc says I may not have to have a total hip replacement – at least not right now. How’s them apples?”

“You think I should be exercising my knee – like that?” Mike wasn’t quite convinced.

“Buddy, what you don’t use, you lose. And I don’t plan on losing my hip joint, least not ‘til I have to.” Robert slapped his friend on the shoulder. “Well, I’m goin’ to get back to doctor’s orders,” he said as he stepped out and strode down the sidewalk.

“And I’m goin’ to see my doc – see what he says. I don’t want to lose my knee either,” Mike called after him as he smacked himself on his bad knee and hobbled back into the house.

Author

Max Wayne Hammonds was born Aug 3, 1943, in northeastern Indiana, in the county hospital in Wabash. He attended high school and college in his home town of North Manchester and attended Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis. Following an internship in South Bend, IN and a year of flight medicine in the Air Force, he took a residency in anesthesiology at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.