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Saturday, February 19, 2011


Snow on Mt. D - 2009

The snow has returned to Mt. Diablo.
I have no pictures to show, because I can't get close enough.

"Why am I not up on that mountain?" was the nagging thought in my head as I gazed south eastward across the valley at the frosted slopes of the centerpiece of the East Bay. I longed to be up on the side of that mountain - any side - just not down here with my leg stanchioned within the confines of a black aluminum and nylon prison.

My latest visit to the doctor about my knee rewarded me with a consultation between Jodi the PA, Dr. Weiss the Sports Doctor, and the orthopedic surgeon who's name I forget. In short they told me not to bend my knee for a week and ordered a knee immobilizer to enforce the directive. I joked with a friend that my knee had been incarcerated, and the brace could only be removed in a week with a key kept in the Orthopedic wing of Kaiser Permanente. The "cure" to Pre-patellar Bursitis seems to be a medical nebulous eliciting contrary opinions from medical practitioners even within the same hospital. Surgery or no surgery, ice or heat, impact injury or overuse injury, anti-inflammatory or no anti-inflammatory, lifestyle changing or not: all of these variations have grounds for debate and find few willing to be dogmatic.

So where does it leave me - other than hobbling like Long John Silver over to the recliner to debate whether I should ice or heat my knee? I don't know. My questions to the doctors was, "So, basically, it's trial and error. If something tends to make it better then I continue doing it; if worse, then avoid it. Once I'm back to normal the same rules apply." Nods all around. Is it any wonder that many of us stand dubious of the sagacity attributed to practitioners in the medical profession?

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't return to medieval lancing and leaches. My point would be better taken as caution against assuming that for each malady and variation thereof there also exists a precise medical remedy.

The surgeon recommended that I consider running and cycling shorter distances (Lifestyle Change) and see if I can control future inflammation in that manner. After he had left the examination room, the sports doctor, whom I felt understood my psyche far better than any of the others, lowered his voice as if fearing to be overheard through the closed door. "I don't necessarily agree with the surgeon," he said. Dr. Weiss then described a scenario where I do what I enjoy for the next 30 years and end up with arthritis - or whatever - when I'm 60. Possible. He went on to describe another scenario where I back off, abandon my passion, and take up quilting or needle point. I then end up with arthritis - or whatever - when I'm 70.

What am I to do?
Nothing in life is guaranteed. Live life to the fullest. Discretion is the better part of valor.
You pick the cliche - but again, there is no precise remedy to the academic/emotional malady I face.

As a follower of Christ Jesus, I recognize the sovereignty of God - nebulous though that also may be - and by faith (because after all, what else is there considering the fact that we can't be everywhere to know everything) accept the fact that the sovereign, good, and omnipotent God is capable of taking a presumably ill course of events and making them, in retrospect, a mere stairway to a far greater good.

I recognize and acknowledge this divine capacity. This should give peace. And it does - at those times I'm actively acknowledging the same.

But the understanding of that concept is like perceiving sunlight, between drifting clouds,
shimmering on the ripples of a pond. At times the wind dies down, and clouds drift apart leaving a spectacular brilliance reflecting, because of the nature and geometry of reflection, in the eyes of a person standing in just the right place. Other times the wind picks up and the ripples spread the sunlight like a vast prism casting the reflected rays in a more subdued, but no less spectacular, pattern against any who may be close enough to observe. But inevitably the clouds scud by and by no fault of the sun (or is it possible, inversely as a direct result of the nature of that vital and requisite flame?) obscure all brilliance.

Some times I stand at the side of that pond absorbing both the direct and indirect light of the sun. I move and take up a different position in response to the intensity of that light and in a breeze find myself dazzled by a less potent but no less impressive understanding of the nature of the source. But then I make no move at all and yet the spectacle fades as a cloud moves by seeming to change even the nature of my pastoral surroundings.

And I recognize that in spite of surroundings (those I can control: I could drain the pond or move my position, and those I cannot: the clouds that float over my head), a life-giving Force exists that I must recognize my dependence on and submit my passions to.

And my knee is still swollen.
I can follow doctor's orders. I can run today and hope for the best. I can decide to take up quilting, sell the bikes, and stash the Reeboks...

...I can be content with not knowing which of those is right and simply choose to move forward, making moment by moment decisions based on knowledge and good judgment, with alacrity, and in anticipation of my Sovereign's greater good.