Saturday, August 24, 2013

Letter From Israel

elinor        אלינור   





Tennis tournaments are hard to follow, these days.  What happens in England is middle-of-the-night fare in eastern Australia, but it’s just right for Israel.  Jerusalem is two hours ahead of London, so Wimbledon  is easy viewing.

There is something very wrong with my left knee.  My total knee replacement of 2005 seems to be slipping, and it’s causing problems.  I fell flat on my face one day and had to have my family doctor declare that I didn’t need a CAT scan; my eyes were not showing any brain damage and my boiling anger at my klutziut convinced him.  The scar healed nicely.

The second, third and fourth times I fell I managed to keep my face off the sidewalk, but I injured my shoulders.  I declined to have them surgically repaired because I kept landing on my hands and re-injuring them, so I was referred instead to Physiotherapy. 

The physiotherapist looked at my knee in passing and said My guess is you’re trying to walk on one leg and no one can do that—even you-know-who might have walked on water, but he used both legs.  Carry your cane and consult a specialist. 

How dumb do you have to be?

The first knee surgeon said he wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. Nice touch.  But he prescribed a costly brace, which covered the knee in both directions by a hand span.  It has a hole over the kneecap and metal hinges on either side that let me bend my knee, which is the last thing I want to do.  There was also danger of muscle atrophy, which led me to use it infrequently.   It worked all right in winter but was deadly hot in summer.  One of the self-praising notes on the package of the brace promised it would ‘gently warm the area’, which I hardly required.  Further, removing it was impossible without its taking a tad of me with it, every time.

The second knee surgeon said he didn’t do that kind of surgery, but I could consult Dr So-and-so in Tel Aviv.  His initial consult costs NIS 750, he did not belong to my health fund so was a private provider, doesn’t operate at my favourite hospital; next available appointment in 4 months.  Goodbye.

When I entered the office of the third knee surgeon carrying a load of attitude, I got right to the point:  Hello, do you do revision surgery?  If not, your next patient will thank me for leaving immediately.  He smiled and said Revision surgery forms the greater part of my practice.  Please sit down.  I sat.

Show me your knee, please.  I raised my pants cuff and showed him the bright blue band around my leg, just below my knee.  What’s that?  Well…

I was watching the Wimbledon tournament.  Rafael Nadal was playing, wearing a band around his knee.  Major knee surgery had kept him away from tennis for many months.  The band must be there to stabilise his leg, I thought, and also Oh, what a lousy shot that was.

Several matches later one of my favourites, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, was down on the famous grass of the court, writhing in pain.  It had rained, he had slipped and a mass of white-coated medical personnel surrounded him.  Several minutes later he rose, unable to continue playing but wearing a band around his knee.  OK, got the idea.

I tried several versions of the tennis-player knee band until a chemist suggested a self-adhesive tape (sticks to itself, not to the limb) and at 20 shekels for 4 meters, a real bargain.  It worked.  I buried my brace and the several other tortures I’d acquired in the back of a closet and have ever since been trying to convince knee sufferers to try the blue band and tell the world about it.  Chicken soup, I reckon.

My surgeon was impressed but as my father used to say, That and 25 cents will get you onto the streetcar.  I’m no closer to repair than I was at Doctor One, but at least I can walk, I’m not in constant pain and my face has stayed off the sidewalk. 

Kudos and thanks to Rafa and Jo Wilfred.  If you see them, please thank them for me.

cross posted Geoffff's Joint


  1. Geoff,

    I do want to thank you for giving us this material.

    It's important and it's hopeful compared to so much of the rest.

  2. A pleasure Mike.

    I must say elinor you did look much more agile and comfortable than the last time we saw you.

  3. Why thank you, kind sir! Same to you.

    Most of the credit goes to the bright blue band--at least temporarily. Some day I'll dance again...

    How nice of Mike to comment, as well. Much appreciated.


    1. Elinor,

      I do not know when I next expect to find myself in Tel Aviv, but when I do perhaps you, Laurie, and I could get a cup of coffee.

      Peace to you, please, my friend.

    2. Lots of coffee in Tel Aviv, Mike, the place runs on it! It would be a pleasure to meet you and Laurie there. Do you think we could get Geoffff to join us? What a table that would be!

      Thanks for your good wishes. We hope for the best while expecting whatever comes...

      Warmest regards