A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Under the Knife

I know it sounds weak, but I'm actually starting to get a little nervous about going "under the knife" next week. It's just that I've never been put under nor had anyone cut into my skin with a knife. Don't get me wrong. I've been unconscious several times and cut into many times (with a door, window, hanging light fixture, chain link fence, rocks, a rear view mirror and even a knife)...but never on purpose.

Probably the closest I've come to being cut open with a surgeon's knife is when I worked in the meat department of Pence's IGA in Ottawa, Kansas, during college at Ottawa University. It was my first job in the meat business, foreshadowing a career that led me to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. My job was to come in every afternoon and clean up the "cutting room" after the meat cutters had gone home. After washing all the knives and cutting boards in big sinks filled with a mixture of bleach and water, I would lay them out to dry.

On this particular day one of the knives (the largest one, of course) slipped from my hand and dropped straight down (point down, of course) slicing through the top of my boot, top of my foot, bottom of my foot, and bottom of my boot before hitting the concrete floor (at least it was sterile!). After pulling off my boot I learned what they mean when they say, "bleeding like a stuck pig."

Blood was spurting with every beat of my heart as I hobbled to the house phone, picked it up and announced to the entire store that I needed immediate help in the meat department. If I'd been thinking, I would have said, "Clean up on aisle 911," or something clever like that. But it worked nonetheless and it seemed like everyone working in the store came to my aid (something in my voice must have communicated the urgency!).

After being wheeled out of the store on a produce cart holding my foot as high above my heart as possible, I was transported to Ransom Memorial Hospital (affectionately known to students as "Rancid Memorial") where I received stitches in the top -- and bottom -- of my left foot. Somehow the knife had managed to slice cleanly through my foot without hitting either bone or tendon. I was lucky.

But I digress...

I had a pre-op appointment with Dr. Craig Loucks at Peak Orthopedics this afternoon. He went over plans for the surgery, which include cutting me open (we've been over that), putting the pieces of my collarbone back in place with a titanium plate and pins, and filling in the fracture with Bone Morphogenic Protein (BMP) to stimulate the formation of new bone at the site of the fracture. As Dr. Loucks described it, BMP is like silly putty with bone cells in it. Pretty cool stuff.

If all goes well I'll be riding on my new bike (on a stationary trainer) by mid-April and back out on the road by my 44th birthday (May 15). Wish me luck...or keep me in your prayers. Whatever works for you. I'll take the good vibes!



  1. Not sure I had ever heard the knife story! Of course we will all be thinking about you and just keep in mind that those of us, like myself, who had to have c-sections (my only cutting into) were so lucky that we got to be awake during the procedure and I event got to watch a roll of gauze be thrown over my head and tied to a pole behind me. Stupidly I asked what that was for and was told it held my skin and organs back - cheaper than another nurse! Fortunately for you, you will be nice and asleep and unaware!

    Love you!

  2. Denise!!! Eeeewww!


  3. Well, I'm not going to chime in with how many times I've "been under the knife" as it is too many to count! But, being a true mother, I can say that I would rather it be me than you, my son. The good news is that surgical techniques are much better than they used to be, along with more effective pain management. Please let me know the exact time of your surgery, how long you expect to be in the hospital, etc. We'll definitely talk before you go under! Love, mom


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