On June 21st I had bi-lateral knee replacement surgery. It was a long time coming, despite the fact that I refused to admit it until the end when I really had no choice…do it or forget about walking.
Those who are familiar with my thinking know that, in general, I am not in favor of mechanistic medicine when it replaces functional medicine. But surgery is essentially a mechanical procedure and mechanism is therefore rational in that field.
The application of mechanistic principles has resulted in remarkable advances in the medical specialties in America for two reasons: 1) Because mechanistic thinking and practice develops in the direction of greater specialization and 2) Because a relatively free market economy such as ours allows for the development of unlimited technological advances.
I made the appointment, had the surgery and 2 days post-op I took my first tentative steps. I was incredibly fortunate to have a surgeon, Dr. Thomas Meade, that performed the most state-of-the-art surgery possible. The skin covering my knees looked like they had zippers on them because the staples were placed so close together that they looked like the teeth of a zipper, apparently distinctive enough so that every doctor and nurse in the rehab hospital I went to afterward said, “Oh, this is Dr. Meade’s work!” I was also fortunate to be in hospitals that provided the highest level of compassionate, human and humane care one could ask for.
Everyone asked me about the pain…but there was none. From the first day, my only discomfort was from the swelling which resulted in stiffness and limited motion. Now 10 weeks later, the zippers are gone, the swelling has almost disappeared and I walk at least one mile a day, at a pretty good clip. After six weeks I was discharged from physical therapy and now am back to almost full-time practice. I was 79 on July 20th, and tell everyone I got new knees for my birthday!
I read about the health care in Cuba, and I wonder what my story would be like there. I saw the hospital bill for my eight day stay, and almost fainted. I didn’t pay for it directly…Medicare and my secondary insurance did, though I’ve been paying my dues for many, many years. (And still do, because I continue to work and pay the maximum into the Medicare fund, as well as paying for private supplemental insurance.) But I’m so grateful to be living in a place that has the best health care imaginable…I haven’t heard of anyone going to Cuba, Bulgaria, or even Great Britain for that matter, for a special surgical/medical procedure.
So all in all, I’m pretty lucky…to be living at this time, in this place…this great United States of America.