JS Archive

Sep 2007: Hardware earned the hard way

Mike Nichols Mike Nichols

Now that I can once again get my underwear on by myself (well, with a little help from a crutch and a somewhat cumbersome, recumbent “fishing” technique) I am also trying another reality on for size.

Middle age – or what I insist is still early middle age – does not so much sneak up on you as suddenly mount an ambush, and fling you quickly into disconcerting waters.

Or, put another way, there is a very good and equally pathetic reason I have been unable to do my job for the last month.

I have been trying to think of a good way to put this, one that would elicit lots of sympathy or at least make me seem an ill-fated victim of unavoidable bad luck.

But all I could come up with is the truth:

I tried to go waterskiing, and now my bottom hurts.

I was never exactly a Tommy Bartlett recruit. But there was a time I could at least wipe out without ending up face-down for three hours on an operating table.

Unfortunately, when I crashed into the once-lovely waters of Blue Spring Lake down by Palmyra, my ski didn’t detach – though, an MRI eventually revealed, my 44-year-old hamstring quite nicely did.

It was right about then that all the little children in the boat learned a very naughty word.

I have considered lying to them, insisting it is simply another way of expressing a desire for help getting out of the water, but I am afraid what the parents at the neighborhood pool will think the next time my kids are trying to get out themselves and there is a line at the ladder.

Things are getting better now, thanks to Mike Gordon, a ridiculously talented, if somewhat sadistic, surgeon who eventually reattached the thing by putting three screws in my butt.

What the doctor did in technical, medical terms, if I am reading the literature correctly, is he made an incision in my gluteal crease, retrieved my ruptured hamstring, elevated my gluteus maximus and, using anchors, reattached it to the old ischial tuberosity.

But here’s what I can’t stop thinking: The guy put three screws in my butt.

He seemed pretty happy with the result, said it actually went “beautifully,” although I am told my hopes of ever being a Speedo model are over.

Plus, I can’t bend at the waist right now and my lower parts feel almost as vulnerable as New Orleans’.

Not that there aren’t a few good things. On the positive side, I can now claim to have unique insight into both the terms Screw you and Up yours.

Neither, I can assure you, is a term to be bandied about lightly.

Also, never again will I stand for being called even slightly detached.

It’s humbling, to be honest with you, being laid up, and incredibly heartening, too, to have so much support; it gives you a whole new perspective on family and friends and nurses and doctors, on a decent employer with good insurance and generous disability leave, all the little things those of us who normally enjoy good health, but won’t always as we age, are able to take for granted.

I’m hoping for a little understanding from readers, as well, since I want to be back to full speed as soon as possible but need to sit up first.

Getting through the metal detector at the airport without losing my pants, in the meantime, should be a different sort of interesting challenge.