The Good News, The Big Shorts.

posted in: Day In The Life 17
The shorts. Note boots to the left of the chair for scale. Photo: Me.


I had my knee appointment yesterday. The good news is that I don’t have to have my knees replaced this summer, which is what I had convinced myself I was going to have to do. They’ve been hurting so terribly and really, I think I was looking forward to major surgery in some sick way: It would mean I’d have to stop moving. Think of all the reading I could do!

So no surgery, but I do have some kind of patella syndrome. Can you believe that? Patella syndrome! Just when I thought I was gimpy enough, I gotta have some kind of patella syndrome. The nerve(s).

That my patellas have syndromized* is what my knee doctor told me, anyway. He was capable and I liked his Maltese accent, but I do think I’ll get a second opinion; there were a few concerns he didn’t address even after I mentioned them a couple times and feel like I owe my (cute, beguiling) patellas another looksee. I have a script for some physical therapy, but the meds he recommended I can’t take because of UC-related stuff. I shrug, I wince, I get the second opinion and wonder if I’m really weird enough to want someone to tell me that I have to have double-knee surgery so I can rest for Lord’s sake.

What I really wanted to tell you is that at the hospital yesterday I got to wear a pair of absolutely ginormous paper shorts.

My X-ray tech was named Angel.

“Hi,” I said, putting out my hand. “I’m Mary.”

“Miss Mary,” Angel said, “it’s a pleasure to meet you. Please put on these shorts. I will wait outside; you let me know when you’re ready, okay? Just knock on the door.” I thanked him and he went into the hall.

Apparently, all they had were XL paper shorts. The shorts I was holding were pure comedy. I’m not saying that extra-large shorts are funny: I’m saying clothes that are way, way too big or way, way too small for a person are funny. It’s like a basic rule of comedy. And when the clothes are made of paper and have elastic… This is commedia dell’arte stuff.

I chatted with Angel while he did my X-rays. He was such a cool guy. He moved here from El Salvador twenty years ago and worked his way through radiology school while working as a janitor at Northwestern. He told me about his daughter  and how she’s already talking about being a doctor.

“You have to tell her how cool the clothes are,” I laughed. “Scrubs, paper shorts…”

We laughed. We talked about the election. I asked him if I could keep the shorts when we were done. He looked at me like no one had ever asked him that before.

“No one has ever asked me that before,” he said. “But…be my guest.”

Last night, because I am so cool, I posted a series of pictures on my Instagram account of me posing and duck-facing with my shorts. I used them as a cowl, a hood, a hat, a scarf. I’m glad my knees aren’t as bad as I thought they were. I just wish they didn’t ache like they do.

Interesting note: While I was goofing off with paper X-ray shorts on my head, they didn’t hurt at all.

*my term

17 Responses

  1. mary
    | Reply

    Since you are in chicago, get your 2nd opinon from Midwest Ortho at Rush. They are amazing technicians. George Bush even flew in to have both of his knees replaced. Scott Sporer is my favorite doc there for knees

  2. Patsy Noyes
    | Reply

    I’ve had both my knees replaced, the first at age 56. It went well, the second 9 years later was not a breeze. Exercise+++, ice your knees, daily if needed. I used a fat quarter under the ice pack, then wrapped the knee and ice pack with a tensor. The longer you can put off surgery , the better.

  3. Jane Sanders
    | Reply

    Paper clothes were all the rage in the mid 60s. I had an amazing red/white/blue striped paper dress that I wore 3 times. It didn’t need ironing! That was a joke from my grandmother who loved nothing more than spending a hot humid August afternoon ironing sheets and my dad’s boxer shorts.

  4. Donna Adkins
    | Reply

    I definitely understand about the knee pain. I limped for years before the pain finally got to where I couldn’t stand it. Both knees were bone on bone and needed to be replaced. I waited until near the end of May( I am a first grade teacher), and did the first on May 23 and the second on June 9. It was tough, but I did the rehab and whatever they told me to do, which is not my usual MO. I am SO pleased with the results! But I will say that I had grand plans to craft while I was down, but I couldn’t for about three weeks after the second surgery. Good luck.

  5. Dawn Norris
    | Reply

    Sorry to say, but there is no rest after knee replacement surgery, Just a lot of hard work! You have so many interests that, I’m sure, give some distractions from the pain! Wishing you the best! Loved meeting you at your class in Oshkosh, WI! Many prayers for good health!

  6. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    I was thinking I needed knew surgery too. PT has done the trick so far. I assume you have tried topical pain relievers. Second opinions are good, especially since he gave you incompatible meds.

  7. Lori jansen
    | Reply

    Are they really paper??? Could incorporate them into a wall hanging???? …lol…that would be hilarious. I wonder if they come in different colors? You could start a new trend!

  8. Rhonda Mossner
    | Reply

    I’m a Quilter, not a doctor. I’m guessing you are afflicted with some arthritis under your kneecap? Yay! Not. Surgery I am told only helps for a short time if at all and replacement surgery won’t help. What DOES help are water aerobics. Who knew? The PT works better in the water and the classes force you to jump around and laugh with other women and then make new friends while basking in the hot tub afterwards. I thought people were kidding when I heard water helps the arthritis pain, but I’ve been at it for four months now and feel in much less knee and joint pain already!
    Yeah, like you have time for a water class!! But, you never know. Maybe one will pop up that fits your schedule sometime soon that you can try out!
    Hang in there girl, we love ‘ya!

  9. Anne Beier
    | Reply

    Good luck, Mary. I’ve had three hip replacements. The first one had to be re-done. Swimming helps a lot. Hope you feel better and get some resolution to the issue and get rid of the pain soon.

  10. Linda
    | Reply

    I too have Patella Syndrome and have learned when it really flares up to rest those knees for a day or so. I also read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. Also “Yoga for Healthy Knees” by Sandy Blain. Those two books got me back on the right track.

  11. Kate
    | Reply

    I have Crohns disease. My knees started giving me problems when I was 39. I too could not take the recommended drugs because of the Crohns. So I went to physio for a year.
    Twenty years later I am still walking on those knees. Much of the time, I don’t notice them, because they do what I want. I can predict the weather with them, though.
    My mother had similar problems with her knees. She went the surgery route, and was no better after 4 rounds of surgery. She became convinced that knees don’t like surgery.
    By all means, get a second opinion, but try the physio. I found it was a huge help.

  12. Tierney Davis Hogan
    | Reply

    The Instagram photos of you posing with the paper shorts are hysterical and brilliant. I love how you take challenging situations and add so much humor to them. You are a gem!

  13. PegD
    | Reply

    Mary, I love your blog and your humor.. I don’t usually comment but today I want to share a story with you. I do not have Patella Syndrome but I have very little cartilage under my right knee. Doctors said it’s arthritis but I swear it’s from a roller skating accident I had when young. 5 years ago I saw two different ortho docs as knee was very painful and swollen. Had fluid extracted, cortisone shots, rest, etc. It never seemed to get better and I was constantly exhausted. The first doc said, “we should replace your kneecap”, the second doc said “it’s not bad enough”. Ok…cortisone shots were awful, when I came down off them everything hurt worse.I couldn’t exercise and I was becoming a slug. I was sad. I also have a “bad neck” Too many cases of whiplash. I’ve been trying to find relief from it for years. I finally found a chiropractor that treated me with the Atlas Orthogonal method for my neck. No popping, cracking,, very painless and it helped my neck immensely. BUT the side effect…knee pain completely gone. I only feel a twinge or two going up and down steps after about the 25th trip up or down. (Sewing room is downstairs). I go once a month now for maintenance and no more pain and I exercise and am a new woman. Not every chiropractor uses that method so you have to do your research. It is just a suggestion to keep in mind, if you get down to the bottom of the barrel of things to try. Anything before surgery!! Best Wishes. PS love the shorts.

  14. Betty Harris
    | Reply

    All orthopedists have those same lovely paper shorts, so get ready. I have had 9 knee surgeries so i keep a pair of stretchy but attractive capris or pants that i always wear to the ortho or xray appointments..I just squish them up and don’t have to undress or swish when i walk. I also agree with finding a gym with a warm water therapy pool and/or a class. It feels heavenly on those sore joints.

  15. Linda Duff
    | Reply

    Hi Miss Mary!
    SO glad that I got to meet you at your presentation on Thursday night here in Winterset at the IOWA QUILT MUSEUM during our guild week !!!!! You are so sweet and funny .. I’ll have to be sure to check out the pix with the paper shorts!
    I don’t have any medical advice to give you since I’m only afflicted with Meniere’s/vertigo, fibromyalgia, and counting down the time for 5 years to be ‘free’ from breast cancer, but I will say I’m excited for you that you don’t have to have surgery. By all means, go get that 2nd opinion. When the Doc doesn’t even think of answering the questions you’ve asked, then it’s time to look for someone new!
    Take care of you and your knees! Oh, the thing I can tell you about it EMU oil. Someone mentioned it to me today. Said it worked amazingly well for a foot that has bothered him for years, and a knee (?) that has bothered his wife forever and a day as well! Just sayin’ . . . . . . . .
    Take care ..
    Linda D … “The Bag Lady”

  16. Lisa Schmidt
    | Reply

    It totally makes sense now. I was completely puzzled by your IG post last night. Clarification is fun!

  17. Jackie Roisler
    | Reply

    Dear Miss Mary,
    Ha! I kept my funny paper blue shorts, too! And I couldn’t stop laughing either, the shorts even feel funny and crinkle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *