Saturday, January 21, 2012

My wings are clipped

My left knee has bothered me off and on for the past seven or eight years.  I was on crutches for a bit one summer - doc thought it was a pulled ligament.

It has been getting worse and worse.  I finally went to my old friend who is the best knee surgeon in the area, having taken care of the Notre Dame sports teams for many, many years.  I decided that if anyone was going to operate on my knee, it would be Fred.

He explained that I am knock-kneed.  Surprise!  As if I haven't listened to my courderoys scraping together my whole life.  No way I could sneak up on anyone, unless I greased my knees.  Anyway, he explained that our body weight should be evenly distributed down our legs, through our knee caps, and on down to the ankles and feet, but my weight was being carried by the outside of the knee.  Apparently the aberation is worse in the left leg, because the meniscus is severely worn on the outside of the left knee.

When I went to Macedonia, my friend Nicola, whom I was visiting, pointed out that she is bow-legged, and when we stood side by side we spelled OX.  When I told that one to Fred, he got quite a laugh out of it. But I digress.

The pain has gotten progressively worse, and I finally went back to see how the knee was doing.  They took another X-ray.  The meniscus is gone - just ain't there anymore!  So it is bone on bone, which would explain why things are a bit unpleasant.

Fred said he wanted to do it as soon as possible.  I asked how long it would be after the surgery until I could resume milking.  He looked at me, then said, "Never.  Until you make arrangements to quit the heavy farm work, I will not even schedule the surgery."  And he meant it.  He stood in the doorway while I dialed a couple of numbers, left some messages explaining that I wouldn't be milking after the operation, and we finally agreed on March 2 for my surgery.

I pointed out that I loved the physical part of my work.  HE pointed out that as we get older, we have to reset our expectations.  He said he wished he could still run marathons, but he can't.  And I cannot farm.  It requires running through paddocks full of ruts (terrible condition on frozen ground), lifting 80 lb. bales (I pretty much just shove them around, can lift them maybe a foot or so, that's it), and manhandling recalcitrant cows.  He told me if I wanted physical activity, I should take up golf.  So there!  He wouldn't budge on it.  Said my farming days are over.  I have a torn rotator cuff, and I am avoiding surgery with plenty of PT to strengthen muscles, but he is right, I do not need to lift 80 lb. bales anymore, not even just one foot off the ground.

One of my friends said it should be MY decision, not his, whether or not I continue to farm, but frankly, I am a bit relieved that he pushed the issue.  I know I will just keep pushing myself, and then there will be the day when I have pushed it too far, when it is too late to recover from the latest injury, and so I am retiring from the heavy work.  Clay can take care of the chickens.  I am working on finding a new home for the cows.  I will miss them, but I will not miss having to ship a favorite cow, will not miss running on rutted ground twisting my ankles and knees, will not miss rounding up heifers who have not yet learned respect for electric fences.

I already have the crew lined up for greenhouse and garden.  There will still be plenty of work for me, but even some of the planning is getting offloaded to Androo.  He has been with me for four years, and he knows the gardens better than I do.  Time to let him have at it.

So semi-retirement is just around the corner.  I am shooting for a twenty hour week.  Any less than that, and I would go stir crazy.  So my next great adventure is about to begin.  Golf, anyone?


  1. Wow Mom! I can't believe it. But you must really be hurting, because I can't believe that you would let anyone tell you what to do - so you must believe it in your heart too. You have worked a hard life. Time to take it easy.

  2. It's pretty much 24/7 now, propping it up doesn't take the pain away, wakes me up in the night. And you know I can't take pain pills, so I can only say that I wish the surgery were tomorrow instead of March 2. Sigh . . .