When I returned to America as a teenager, this country was the cynosure of the world. EVERYONE wanted to be American…or at least visit America…or request asylum here…or…at minimum, openly kvetch about America.
I took the heat for Americans as an expat living in Ireland. Whenever a U.S. Tourist did something stupid, ostentatious or culturally insensitive, I heard about it. As all those American expats who have had this experience know, you become a sort of “local office” to which disgruntled natives can address their gripes, moans and ridicule.
So, when I repatriated to this land of plenty, gawked in wonder as I wandered through supermarkets with hundreds of types of cookies, chips and convenience foods of every kind, observed the excesses of entertainment and sport prominent even in 1976, and sopped up all that middle class affluence, I was partaking fully in that world famous “American Dream.”
But it was the show The Bionic Woman which caught my imagination. What if someday, my aging or damaged parts could be replaced with something better? I knew it was possible when professional tennis player Jaime Sommers went on a tragic skydiving date with Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man—hang on, the date isn’t the focal tragedy, just what happened next—and her parachute failed to deploy and she collided with a tree almost killing herself in what was a patent attempt to engender a new TV series. I knew that America had some serious science know-how and expected I’d have my own shiny robot and Jetsons car before I hit college.
While I still don’t have all that science fiction TV promised, today, I had something. Today, while some of you slept, sipped coffee, or wondered how Eric Cantor was faring after the Tea Party upset last night, I had my own bionic event…
There I was, supine on the exam table at Palo Alto Medical as Dr. Chen my Sports Medicine physician injected my knees with a viscous goo all in the name of forestalling a full knee replacement.
The feeling was indescribable. He injected first my left knee as I sang the entire Carpenters song, “I’ll Say Goodbye to Love,” in my head and pinched my wenus as a distraction (ask a teenager if you are unsure of this term) all while trying to fathom the exact level of pain I was experiencing as sweat beads danced on my forehead.
Afterwards, though, as I cried uncle and I rolled around on the exam table laughing at the dead sensation pervading my lower legs, I grew some nerve, got up, and tried my “new” knees. I was pretty impressed. The right one felt better immediately. The left one had me limping out the office door with a pegleg precision.
But now, it’s pushing noon. The left knee is loving OrthoBlast® II, that viscous glue that now acts as my cartilage. I’m actually walking; getting a little faster; able to straighten my leg a little more. Who knows, maybe I’ll start running again…faster…farther…60 MPH…you never know.