If you've been reading my "Organs" series, you'll notice one of the reoccurring characters is a cranky elderly bastard named Old Clicky. And today – June 15th – is that mean old geezer's birthday.
Old Clicky and I became acquainted four years ago as I warmed up for a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. I took a bad fall and hear a loud "Pop!" I couldn't stand back up, but wasn't really in any pain. I thought I strained my knee, but instead I ended up going to the ER to see a few doctors. Literally, two weeks later after sitting in a MRI tube my surgeon told me the news. While wearing swim trunks (the only thing I could get on while I wore a brace) I sat on a hard bed in a cold medical office.
The sawbones was a soft-spoken guy who wanted you to like him as a buddy, not some clench-jawed doctor. Out came my MRI results and he put them on some light board and started to point stuff out to me:
"This is where your ACL used to be. That's the big ligament that keeps your knee together. That's torn into two pieces. The cartilage, or meniscus, in your knee is shredded."
I gulped and I gasped, "Okay?"
"But we have a few options," the doc continued. "We can take the ligaments out of a cadaver, drill a few holes into your femur and tibia to make a sort-of brand-new ACL."
"You want to put dead people parts in me?" I squeaked.
"It's much safer than it sounds. We've used this organ donor company many times, and 99.9999 percent of the time these things work great," the M.D. smiled.
"And the other point-whatever percent?" I croaked.
"I can't lie to you, there's the possibility your body will reject the implant. Worse yet, there's a risk of infection. Even more remote, a transplant could carry something like AIDS. You don't have AIDS, do you?"
"No. No, I have the medical sheet to prove it." I inhaled and exhaled to relax a little. "What are the other options?" is what I tried to say, but it came out, "Whut-ter-muh-utt-er-op-chins?"
"We can cut out part of your tendon connecting your hamstring, drill some holes into your knee and make a different type of brand-new ACL!"
I bobbed my head up and down (back when I didn't have a recovering broken neck and could actual perform that motion.)
"Finally, we can chop the middle of your patellar tendon out, drill some holes into your bones and you've got a brand-new ACL. Probably stronger than the last one."
I thought I nodded my head, but my vision just jumbled around.
"Casey, really, this isn't that bad. I do all the knees for the CU football guys and all the DU hockey guys. I work up in the ski towns around Aspen. It's like an assembly line for me. ‘Chop-chop tie-tie. NEXT!' And then I repeat it a few however-many times a day. It's a very simple procedure. I've even had it done myself. So what surgery sounds the best to you?"
I felt a familiar pinch.
He looked at me with his charmer's eyes. "Well, Casey? Which do you like."
I couldn't say anything, but remembered what the pinch was: the lack of blood and oxygen going into my brain.
"Casey." Another glance from the doc. "Hey Casey?" I started seeing the world jump to light speed – all black and full of stars. "CASEY!" My tastebuds retreated in preparation for oncoming vomit. "Wont wont wont waaaah waaah, wont wont wont waaaah," was all I heard from the nice surgeon and closed my eyes…
I woke up to being slapped – which wasn't my first time, but my first and only time to wake up with a dude slapping me. "CASEY, DO YOU HAVE A HISTORY OF SEIZURES? TALK TO ME!" He cried to the orderly. "This fucking kid's going insane. Pop him!" I couldn't speak, but braced for a suckerpunch somewhere. Then fingers closed my lips and a smelling salt wafted under my nose.
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZEEEEE – UUUUH!"
My lungs started working again.
"CASEY! DO YOU HAVE SEIZURES?"
"Huh? What? What the fuck just happened?" was all I could say.
"You passed out when I told you about the surgery you're going to need. We need to do some arthroscopic work on your knee. Do you want some ice or a soda?"
"You fucking dork. You drop a fucking bomb on me like that, and then ask me if I fucking want some fucking soda?" (I get really pissed when people slap me, wake me up or talk to me like I'm an idiot.)
"No, my assistant was smacking you in the face to wake you up and you have handprints on your face."
"How about a Sprite?"
And this is the guy I trusted to chop apart my patellar tendon, drill holes in my leg and tie stuff back together. I still can't feel the outside of my knee. When I've been squatting too long you can hear a series of clicks like some crushing a potato chip bag. Hence, how Old Clicky got his name.
P.S. Later, I repeated this passing out escapade during my Mekaneck debacle. It turns out I have "Whitecoat Syndrome" – in which I lose consciousness whenever I hear bad news from a doctor. So if you want to try and knock me out, save your kung fu moves, just put on some scrubs and tell me I have an ovary infection or something.