091320 Human Condition (toned)

It all started with a creaking sound coming from my knees whenever I went from sitting to standing or when walking. There was some discomfort following prolonged walking and exercising which increased with age and weight gain. It finally resulted in a trip to the doctor. The diagnosis was as expected, osteoarthritis.

After a year or more of prescribed medications and routine visits to my rheumatologist, I posed this question to him: “How will I know when I am really in need of knee replacement surgery?”

His reply was: “You’ll know. I promise you, you’ll know.”

The medicines helped, but I felt the need for more relief as the aches had progressed into pain. The search for remedies started by asking other patients that I met in my doctor’s office. The first one suggested exercising in a swimming pool. I tried this for awhile and had moderate results, but they were short lived.

Remedy No. 2 sounded interesting. It said “Place a handful of raisins into a small jar and add vodka to cover. After they puff up, eat four or five several times a day.” I followed the instructions and was always in a happy mood by supper time, but the pain persisted. As enjoyable as Remedy No. 2 was, I could not continue with this routine or I may have developed a greater problem.

Almost continuous aches and pains that affect your daily life as well as rest at night can call for desperate measures. The information on the container said the contents “were made of a soothing blend of natural herbs that provide temporary relief from muscle and joint pain.” I had to give this third remedy a try. When the clerk in the feed store observed my gait, he figured out that the horse liniment was for personal use. “Giddy-up Nellie” was the standard joke around my house. It did not help.

My doctor was correct. I knew when I was ready for the surgery. Bilateral knee replacement was scheduled, followed by a short hospital stay and intensive physical therapy. That was in 1998. Thanks to a skillful orthopedic surgeon and lots of prayers, I am still walking and traveling without any discomfort.

However, my titanium knees still set off every bell and whistle at TSA checkpoints.

— Bergeron lives in Baton Rouge 

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to The Human Condition at features@theadvocate.com or The Advocate, Living, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence, and, if writing about yourself, a photo.