Thursday, July 12, 2007

Times That Try Mens' Souls

Tomorrow, at 08:30, I'll be making my way to a local hospital to undergo a 3rd arthroscopic reconstruction of my left knee. The last one I had was about 18 years ago, which repaired the ligament originally torn in 1986.

I was entered into a martial arts tournament and after spending hours staying loose and ready, they called my ring and I was paired with an opponent. This dude had a great burst off the line and from the "Hajime!", he was laying a side kick into me which I caught on my block. A hard charger, the momentum of his kick sent me sprawling. Though it caught me somewhat unaware, I had dealt with such an attack many times. When we squared off again, I had a few different things rushing through my mind. As he burst again, I let fly a roundhouse kick to his head which caught him perfectly. Unfortunately for me, his momentum again kept coming and my foot got hung up on his shoulder just enough to jam my supporting leg down into the carpet. My knee couldn't handle the torque and it popped to the nausea of everyone within earshot. I flopped around a bit trying to overcome the admonitions of the judges who were frantically trying to make me lie still. Good idea except that my leg was bent underneath me. Once I pushed them out of the way, I was able to straighten the leg and breathe easy. It didn't hurt then. I tried to stand on it, but it wasn't to be. I had to forfeit and sit with a bag of ice on the balloon my knee had become.

Naturally, I had to sit and watch. I wanted to see if my opponent, to whom I bore no malice whatsoever, would prevail. To lose the first round to a guy who will just go on to lose the next round just doesn't do. He went two more rounds before elimination and just missed placing. I could have beaten him, though. (What else can I say?)

For the uninitiated, in this type of tournament, you have usually two minutes to outscore you opponent or reach whatever the rules say is the limit. In this one I believe it was three points with any score only counting as one point. There is a judge in at least three, if not all four corners with a center referee who can break ties. You spar with your opponent until one lands a legit technique, and the fight is stopped. If you have at least two judges who see the same technique score, a point is awarded and the fight resumes. It's a light contact event, and control is important, though some fine shots can be administered to the body without penalty. I wasn't a black belt so there was a no contact rule for the face area, and only light contact to the head, and moderate to the body. This is subjective depending on the judges and the apparent skill level of the participants. Excessive contact results in the victim getting the point, and continued excessive contact results in disqualification. The winner advances to the next round. The first Karate Kid movie represented this basic tourney system fairly well, but by the time of that movie, hand and foot pads were required, and now headgear is also mandatory.

Anyhow, I tore the ACL in my left kneed and some cartilage as well. The arthroscope was still fairly new and they didn't do a whole lot with it. They removed the torn cartilage, but that was the extent of it. To do more would have required opening the knee as in days of old and six months in a cast. A few years later, I tore the ligament the rest of the way and by then they were able to deal.

Now, I'm not sure what is going on. The pain in my knee came about rather gradually and I couldn't point to any one incident to explain it. The MRI was inhibited by the assorted screws and staples still in my knee from the last surgery (which they should be able to remove tomorrow), so they couldn't get a good look. Overall, it doesn't seem anywhere near as dibilitating as before, but crank it the right way and I'm forced to spew expletives.

My main concern is recovery time. Bowling season begins around Labor Day and there are a lot of people who have my money. I intend to get it all back as well as a great deal of theirs. Now, my time to practice and get in game shape is limited. Fotunately, the knee won't affect my beer consumption. And of course, I need to get back into healthy shape as well, and resume my ju jutsu training. All in all, the next month and a half will be intense. Wish me luck.

17 comments:

Mark said...

Good luck. Don't get anywhere near Cuban hospitals if you want the knee to heal.

Parklife said...

martial arts.. or... Marshall Art's?

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Good luck. Surgeries suck, recovery is always fun thanks to Vicodin! God, I miss that stuff. . .

Les said...

Dude, that guy totally Cobra Kai'd you!

Good luck with the procedure.

Erudite Redneck said...

Hope it went well, dude.

Marshall Art said...

Thanks to all. I made it through and am now hauling around a heavily wrapped and braced knee. And here's a new twist: morphine drip. I got a little canister that is pumpin' the juice a little at a time. Unfortunately it's local. Vicodin is good supply. Might save that for bowling night. Hmm. John Daniels and Vicodin. My bowling average might not be high, but I'll be. Anyways, there's nothing like an hour or two of surgery for some solid nap time. Another downside however, is it's 12:30 AM and my mouth is still dry.

Nonetheless, all went well, I can apply direct weight if required. Am looking forward to jammin' on the therapy and rehab. Thanks again all.

Park,

What's the question again?

Les,

You freakin' killed me with that one. Good thing I was drinkin' water.

Mark said...

Is John Daniels anything like Jack Daniels?

Marshall Art said...

Mark,

When you've known Jack as long as I have, you get to call him John.

My favorite line (paraphrased) from "Scent of a Woman", spoken by Al Pacino.

Dan Trabue said...

I wish you well in your recuperation.

Break a leg...

PCD said...

Marsh,

I tore up my right ankle in College. The doctor asked me, "Why the Hell didn't you just break it?" I've had trouble with it ever since. About 20 years ago the prognosis was 20% do no harm with surgery, 5% fix it, and 75% make it worse with surgery.

The thing I did learn was not to rush things. I listened to the physical trainers in the hall and got off the crutches too fast.

I took 40 pins off my bowling average by rushing things, and now I can't bowl at all.

If you can't attempt to bowl without the drugs, you aren't bowling, the drugs are fooling you. You are probably screwing up your knee more by going hard on it by using the drugs.

Marshall Art said...

Damn, PCD, you misunderstand. I try to stay away from drugs, unless it's totally recreational. I mean, hell, if we can put a man on the moon, can't we get at least a lude that won't kill us? Is that too much to ask?

Marshall Art said...

OK, I think that's the Vicodin talking.

PCD said...

Watch those Vics closely. They messed Brett Favre up.

When my various weakened, torn up bits give me problems, I go to a Chiropractor. A cop can't take me to the pokey for a Chiro treatment like he could if I took a Vic.

ELAshley said...

Good Luck. For myself, I'm a Shorin Ryu and Goju Ryu guy. Never got beyond green, and still-- on occasion --practice kata, especially Sanchin.

Marshall Art said...

ELAshley,

Way cool, muh man. I came up through almost the very same, a blend called Shorei-Goju, which had the same hard/soft thing going on. Got up just before 3rd Brown, after staying at one rank for about 15 years. I never could get past the poorly pronounced Japanese words. Finally, I dedided to bite the bullet and learn 'em and after receiving 4th Kyu (Purple in my school), the place dissolved. It used to piss off the Black Belts that I was such a low rank giving them a hard time in the ring, but then I was learning everything anyway, since I was tight with instructors. I miss not getting ranked up, but, my main goal was to keep from getting my ass kicked, and I was doing OK on that end. I think I remember two katas from start to finish, Pinan 1&4. I wasn't a big kata guy, but I liked doing them. Just the sparring and self-defense was where I spent all my time. I figured if I was going to practice form, I'd practice it on someone's head. I bow to you my warrior friend.

ELAshley said...

You and I are opposites in that respect: you love sparring, and defense, and I love all the inner stuff like Kata and Form. However, when I was training we got application to go along with kata and forms, it's helpful-- and desireable --to know why one is performing set movements and how they could be applied in defense and attack.

Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings held particular fascination for me. And still does... much more than Sun Tzu's famous work.

From the review at Amazon:

"One of Japan's great samurai sword masters penned in decisive, unfaltering terms this certain path to victory [and] is applicable not only on the battlefield but also in all forms of competition. Always observant, creating confusion, striking at vulnerabilities--these are some of the basic principles. Going deeper, we find suki, the interval of vulnerability, of indecisiveness, of rest, the briefest but most vital moment to strike. In succinct detail, Miyamoto records ideal postures, blows, and psychological tactics to put the enemy off guard and open the way for attack. Most important of all is Miyamoto's concept of rhythm, how all things are in harmony, and that by working with the rhythm of a situation we can turn it to our advantage with little effort."

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

I realize you are recovering from painful surgery. It might behoove you, however, in light of your recent success, to post something short but provocative to stimulate a good discussion. On example sure to get results (some of them quite, um, odd) is to post something on your views on Israel. The nuts will fall from the trees, and you regular readers will surely join in. With gusto.

Hope all is going well. Drink a lot of water with that Vicodin. Keeps you from getting all bound up.