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roaming the world and enjoying the scenery...

New Knee

Dave\'s knee under repairBreck was dinging around with the camera the other day, and took a nice closeup of my knee as it recuperated outside. The big black thing is the brace that keeps the knee straight, so there is no shearing or slipping of the rebuilding muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other assorted leg things in there.

Because the ligament graft was taken from the tendon connecting my knee to shinbone, there is a vertical incision straight down the front of the knee. Those white ‘bandaids’ are covering and protecting the stitches from that cut.

Recovery has been making great progress in the past weeks. The brace has been adjusted to give me 30 degrees of movement in the joint, allowing it to start working on expanding the range of motion with weight on the leg. In the past two days, in fact, I have been able to start walking (ok, lurching is more appropriate a term, but you get the idea) around more without a crutch. Things are still pretty slow going, but I am feeling good about the progress – compared with things the way they were just a week ago (to say nothing of immediately after the surgery), what I’m able to do know is astounding.

And now, that’s enough about the knee. I’m going to settle in, put ice on my leg, and watch the All-Star game!

Greetings from Rimini

Unfortunately, we aren’t the ones doing the greetings from Rimini. We got a call last night from the huge family reunion taking place at our cabin, and enjoyed hearing how much fun the rest of the family was having at our house!

(A quick recap of the summer’s trials and tribulations: we got back from India, spent a week with family in DC, and then came out to Minnesota. Our plan was to hang out here for 2 weeks, and then spend most of July at our cabin in Rimini, Montana. Family from all over the US – brother and family from DC, mother from WV, sister and family from WY, sister and family from Missoula, MT, and, for the first time ever, father from Billings, MT – all made plans to converge on the little town outside Helena for a grand reunion. But two days before I was to drive out and get things ready, I blew out my knee playing beach volleyball. The grim diagnosis was a ripped ACL and torn meniscus, requiring immediate surgery and (at least) 6 week recovery time before any travel was possible. There went our plans)

But everyone else decided to carry on with the plan, so we got a fun phone call from them last night – great cell phone coverage! Sounds like everyone is having a good time: dad is acting goofy, Rob brought Obama pins for all the kids (except Tyrel, who still wants Mitt Romney!), Karla has a pink Obama shirt, Yiayia is unfortunately not feeling well, and Shari’s got her hands full with two feisty girls.

We wish we were there, and we hope everyone has a super time with lots of swimming, hiking, and campfiring. There have been many promises of pictures, so we are certainly excited about seeing them.

Meanwhile, our kids got to go to the MN zoo today, while I got to go to physical therapy. Hardly seems fair…


Before all the hoopla happened with my knee, we’d been hitting some garage sales for summer stuff. A few years ago, our kids and the Toomer kids had a ton of fun playing Risk on the porch of our cabin. So when Susan found a Risk game at a garage sale, she was all ready to get it.

At $6, it was pretty expensive for a garage sale, but because it was still wrapped in the original unopened plastic, we figured that at least we’d be sure to have all the pieces. We offered $5 for it, and the deal was made.

We took it home, and after I hurt my knee, we decided to try it out. Breck was especially excited, and once we got all the pieces extricated from the bubble wrap they were in (all the little army pieces are actually metal instead of plastic), we got right down to playing. Lots of fun.

The other night, dinging around on the internet, I looked up “risk 40 anniversary” and saw that they were for sale at amazon.com. What a bargain!

Risk on Amazon

Inside the knee

Dave's wrecked ACLWant to get up close and personal with the inside of my knee? We got some pictures from the doctor when he did the surgery, and I’ve posted a little play by play description of what is going on. Nothing too graphically gross, actually pretty cool if you’ve ever wondered what the viewpoint to an arthroscopic surgery looks like.

There is also a picture of the kids helping to make me feel better, if that is more to your taset.


Your father’s mustache

That is what my mom would say when we kids did something that she plain did not understand. I suppose it implied that whatever behavior we were exhibiting came from “the other side of the gene pool” (and not from those brave Spartans!).

As I work through my recovery from knee surgery, I am in the middle of one of those “Your father’s mustache” periods with my wife and the kids. There is quite a good backstory to all this, so just bear with me. As you’ll soon see, I have plenty of time on my hands…

So the set up: Before I got the surgery done, I had to have the issue diagnosed, right? Waiting in the doctor’s office, I read a Sports Illustrated article about baseball in Alaska. Of course, the thing that catches my eye isn’t the story per se, but the idea that they actually sing a different song for the 7th inning stretch – one that sounds kinda interesting. I grew into baseball with Harry Caray at Wrigley, so the idea of anything other than “Take me out to the ballgame” sounded sacrilegious at first, but I was intrigued.

Fast forward to this week, after surgery on Monday. The general therapy for me this week has been: Sit, with your leg elevated, and ice the knee for most of the day. Do two sessions of stretching and muscle building exercises during the day, and try to walk around the house three times putting a little weight on the bad leg. Then go back to sitting with your leg elevated, and put more ice on the knee. All day long. A perfect setup for wasting time on the internet, which we luckily can get through the air here.

“Wasting time on the internet?” Whoa. I wonder if I can track down that song they mentioned in the article. Oh yes, I could and I did. Now, this was apparently quite an underground hit for the band at the time – the mid 80s – which also happened to be my time for music, but I’d never heard it. The band is called the Beat Farmers, and the song is called Happy Boy. Here are the lyrics:

I was walkin’ down the street on a sunny day
hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
Feelin’ in my bones that I’ll have my way
hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

Well, I’m a happy boy (happy boy)
Well, I’m a happy boy (happy boy)
Oh, ain’t it good when things are goin’ your way? Hey hey

My little dog Spot got hit by a car
hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
Put his guts in a box and put him in a drawer
hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

(kazoo solo)
(beer gargle solo)

I forgot all about it for a month and a half
hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba
I looked in the drawer and started to laugh
hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba


With a chorus like that, and a kazoo solo, AND a beer gargle solo, how can you go wrong in only a minute and 22 seconds?! We tracked down the song itself (which you can watch and listen to via the youtube video below), and now I’ve got the kids wandering around the house singing about putting little dog guts in a drawer and saying “hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba” all over the place.

And poor Susan is just rolling her eyes at the silliness of us all. Apparently her mom didn’t have a phrase like “Your father’s moustache” to express her feelings (all she had was a good “tsk!”), but I am ascribing to Susan the right to say it, even though I don’t have a mustache. As an official Stutz, she should be able to use that saying. Especially for teaching the kids a song about squishing a poor pet dog. Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba.


Kneetly done

Well, the incisions have been incised, the grafts grafted, and the sutures sutured. All seemed to go well with the surgery on Monday, and I have spent the last 2 days encased in a metal superstructure designed to protect the knee and keep it from bending.

Seeings how it is my birthday, I have also had a pleasant stream of phone calls during the day. As the pain is getting to be quite noticeable, such calls are always a great interruption in a schedule replete with not much to do. Per Susan’s orders, today is another do-nothing day, but tomorrow will mark the first physical therapy meeting. Knowing how the joint feels just sitting here, I am a little apprehensive about getting out and working it, but that is the obvious point of PT.

But on a happier note, I got an email from my college buddy Samer confirming that he is getting married this July. While I will obviously not be able to make the ceremony, it gives me great pleasure to enjoy his special day (vicariously) with him.

Knee knews

So here’s the latest, and it ain’t pretty.

We got called in today to go over the results of the MRI, and right away knew that summer plans were a-changin. Everything is off for us this summer, because it looks like my surgery and recovery are going to be a bit more complicated than earlier thought. In addition to a torn meniscus – a “bucket handle” tear of the cartilage which apparently has flipped under the bone and is blocking my knee from straightening out – I also destroyed my ACL – the main ligament through the middle of the knee.

The good news (to frame at least something in a positive light) is that because of the severity and type of tear, the surgeon wants to get in there and fix everything up as soon as possible, so I am scheduled to go under the knife on Monday morning. It is an outpatient procedure, so I should be back at the folks’ house that same afternoon. Since they are taking off to Russia for 2 weeks the same day, we’ll be able to watch their house (and new puppy!) while I’m recovering.

As far as further plans for the summer, we talked with the doctor about recovery time. Since the surgery, recovery, and physical therapy resulting from the ligament injury is quite a bit more involved than that of just the torn cartilage, it basically grounds us from further summer travels. So we’ll not be making it out to our beautiful cabin after all, and the scheduled reunion taking place up there will go on without us.

Not really the way we planned on spending the summer – but we are certainly counting our blessings that things are as ‘fixable’ as they are. There are plenty of other incidents and situations that could have been so much more life-shattering than this. It throws a wrench into our summer plans, but we’ll make the best of them!

Didn’t kneed that!

Oops – just as things were falling into place for all the summer travels, we’re having a major shake up in plans. I went with my sister-in-law to play volleyball last night, and the sand just didn’t agree with my knee. I heard a pop, felt a ‘catch,’ and now all of a sudden my left leg looks wildly out of sorts; all bent up and bent out. I can’t walk on it, and am very glad Grandma had a pair of crutches in the house.

Susan took me over to a doctor today, and as I suspected when it first happened, it looks like I’ll need surgery – thankfully just a “scope” and not a “cut.” MRI scheduled for tomorrow, operation next Tuesday. Ugh. Obviously, the whole summer schedule predicated on my leaving tomorrow is scrapped, as well as my quiet “guy time” driving out to Montana!

We’re going to try to keep most of the itinerary intact: Suz and the kids will still fly out; I’ll just be joining them later than planned (getting there after instead of before them). The real trick will be, of course, them managing at the cabin without all the stuff I was supposed to drive out (camping gear, for example).

Never a dull moment for the Stutz family!! Oh well – what’s that old saying? “Want to make the gods laugh? Tell them your plans!”