An Irishman, a Coupla Knees and a Backhanded Blessing

We limped hurriedly toward the doors of Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Walk-In Clinic.

An oxymoron if ever there was one.

This was Tuesday before last. Got there before 8 a.m. hoping I could be first, or at least near the front of the line. As I parked and gingerly climbed out of my vehicle, I noticed several others had the same thought – get there early, maybe not wait as long.

We all started heading for the doors.

My Knees Are For Shite

There’s just no polite way to put it.

Always have been.

Started in the spring of my 7th grade year, track season, when I first tried pole vaulting. Not sure what happened, but something down there twisted up BIG TIME. The folks took me to the doctor.

“Maybe a sprain,” he said. “Hard to say.” Told my mother to give me Tylenol and sent us on our way.

I limped around junior high for a coupla weeks, favoring that left knee. Everyone started making fun of me after a few days, said I was just looking for sympathy.

Tough go, that, in junior high school. Seriously? All I wanted to do was fit in, or, short of that, at least not be noticed. Even at that age I knew pretending to have an injured knee was not a winning strategy for getting girls.

The knee kept hurting throughout junior and senior high basketball, soccer and track, and when I tried to play intramural basketball in my first year of college. Not happening. I decided beer, tequila and the occasional bong hit were more in line with my idea of recreation.

Then, Near 40

Tequila and ganga years long in the past, but that damn left knee just wouldn’t leave me alone.

Hobbled as I was, one of my favorite Irish blessings often came to mind:

May those who love us, love us.
And those who don’t,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles
So we’ll know them from their limping.

We Irish, now, we’ve been known to turn a phrase now and again.

And an ankle or two, too.

And in the case of this gobshite, a knee or two.


Constant pain. Worse when I walked.

Walking’s one of my few pleasures. Necessary, too, because of the spine surgery I had a coupla years ago.

But that’s another tale….

Gets bad enough I finally go to the doc. She sends me to the orthopedic surgeon, who looks at the MRI and proclaims a torn meniscus. “Looks like it’s been that way for a long time, too,” says he.

How long?

“Probably years.”


Whole lotta good it does me at that point, though; taunting bastards are scattered to the four winds.

So that was my first arthroscope knee surgery, better known as a “scope” among the countryfolk.

Let’s Do ‘Er Again

A year down the road I’m having similar problems, same bloody knee.

Scope #2.

And Again

Fast forward to the past eight to six months. Same pain, different feckin’ knee.

Near past 50 now, hitching down the sidewalk, dog pulling me along by the leash.

Did I mention I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis along the way? Knuckles pain me some. A lot, actually. Especially when I’m typing. Which is most of every day.

Again, another tale. Besides, I’m not here to whine….

Back to the orthopod a coupla weeks ago. Torn meniscus, says he. Another scope as soon as possible would be best.

Well, alrighty then. The knife it is. Again.

Except I have to wait a few months ’cause I have a surgery scheduled on my left foot.

A third sordid tale, to be sure….


So two weekends ago, this so-and-so decides to mow the lawn, give one of the kids a break. Just ’causeI can. Ya know?

Pop Goes the Knee Joint


So, that Tuesday morning. Back to the orthopedic walk-in.

Yes, I was stubborn and waited it out through Monday to see if it’d get any better. Didn’t.

A little before 8 a.m. Climbing gingerly out of my vehicle, I see the several others who must’ve had the same thought – get there early, maybe not wait as long.

I started trying to move a little faster. Trying.

There we were, all of us, limping like mad – slowly – toward the doors.

And another oxymoron makes its appearance. Or is it basically the same one…? Either way…


Glancing sideways at my fellow strugglers lurching toward the entrance, a high-pitched guffaw bursts forth.

Silently:Wish I was a bystander watching all this,’ I thought. ‘Buncha wobblin’ wankers crossing the parking lot, doing our damndest to beat each other inside.’

But then…


First in the doors.


First called by the nurse.

Ha! Ha!

First thing we did – of course – was look at the pain scale…

Pain scale graphic used in medical offices

How is my pain right now?  ‘Pretty damn bad or I wouldn’t be here, that’s how,’ flashes through my brain every single time. No offense to healthcare providers, my wife being one of them, but…

“About a 2 sitting here,” I say out loud, “but it jumps to 7 or 8 if it gets twisted even a tiny bit.”

Physician’s assistant comes in, explains that sometimes a lappet of the torn meniscus flaps out of place. Then it’s like a rock in your shoe; nagging pain won’t go away.

“That’s likely what we have here. We could give you steroid shots and hope that helps until your scheduled procedure…

Love how they call it a “procedure,” like it’s a nice, clean, written-out process for a government program or something.

…or we could move up your scope.”

Moved ’er up. Caused all kinds of ruckus with rescheduling pre-op physicals and post-op appointments, both the knee and the foot. But what the hell, if I need to have it done, anyhow…

The Moral of This Gobshite’s Tale?

Never get into a hobbling race with a writing Irishman. He’ll just wind up making fun of you – and his own self, too – on his blog.

Fifty-one years old now. Having my third scope next week.

I’ll never forget the determined looks on my limp-a-long competitors’ faces. Wanna laugh every time.

Would, too, if not for the feckin’ pain it causes in my damned knee.

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Copyright graphic MCFIV 2019

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger ( nonprofit founder ( and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


Al Coen · September 28, 2019 at 9:02 am

I know better than to make fun of you Martin. Get well.

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · September 28, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Thanks, Al!

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