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Pain? Let me tell hoopsters about pain

Sun., June 27, 2010

A lot of people (my 87-year-old mother, for one) keep telling me that men of my enhanced age and waistline have no business playing competitive sports.

And to this I say, “Nonsense!”

Hey, I’m no Iron Man. I’m not even Iron Man II.

But just because I’m old and wide doesn’t mean I can’t go out, work up a sweat and sustain the same exotic-sounding knee injuries as slim-and-fit jocks half my age.

You have a partial tear in your MCL, the doctor told me after reviewing the results of my MRI.

The positive news, doc continued, was that my ACL looks OK.

I was quite relieved to hear that. Screw with the ACL and you’ll get your ass sued off. Although usually that happens when you try to display a Nativity scene in a shopping mall.

Maybe that’s the ACLU.

It’s easy to get confused by all these abbreviations when you’re popping pain meds like kettle corn.

The letters MCL, my doctor said, stand for a rather important thingy, especially when it comes to, oh, standing.

In medical terms, the MCL is the Paul Giamatti of the knee: not the star of the movie but a very solid supporting actor.

Blowing out your knee is apparently quite fashionable. You can hardly open a sports page without reading about some of the best athletes doing it.

And this being Hoopfest weekend, there probably will be a score of amateur street-ballers who will go up for layups only to land with ligament-ripping results.

Fortunately, I am here to give these pavement pounders a heads-up on what they will experience.


That’s right. Tearing your MCL is quite painful.

Oh, I’m sure there are more painful things. Sticking an icicle straight into one of your eye sockets, for one.

I tore my MCL the other morning on a tennis court with some guys I’ve played doubles with since the first Bush administration.

A ball came my way. I took an awkward step and…

I heard/felt this peculiar snapping sound in my right knee.

There was maybe a fraction of a second when a little voice deep inside my brain said: “Whoa. That can’t be good.”

Then came the breathtaking wave of Sharapova-shrieking awfulness.

My friend Jim got some ice. Eventually I hobbled to my Vista Cruiser using my bag-encased tennis rackets as a cane.

I drove home using only my left foot on the gas and brake, a maneuver I don’t remember being taught back in driver’s ed.

At the doctor’s office it was like I’d won a contest. My lovely parting gifts included a pair of aluminum crutches, a soft foamy knee brace and orders to get an MRI, which involves a trip in a long plastic chamber not unlike the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

In every episode of TV’s “House” something horrible happens to any patient who gets an MRI.

Hearts stop. Eyeballs bleed. Gall bladders rupture. Panic ensues. Almost always there is vomiting.

You’d think a brainiac like Dr. House would have figured out by now that the MRI machine was causing all the problems.

That thought came to mind Friday morning shortly after a nice young lady told me to lie down on the MRI table. Then a motor slid me into the claustrophobic sphincter tube, medically speaking.

The good news was that I didn’t need the full tubal treatment. Since only my knee was being magnetically scanned, my head got to hang out the end.

The bad news was that this allowed me to spend the next 25 minutes staring up at a large “GE” logo that was on the top of the machine.

I found this quite unsettling since GE was the maker of a crappy radio I once owned. All the jackhammer and broken washing machine noises the MRI makes while running are no confidence booster, either.

But it could have been a whole lot scarier.

I could have been looking at a BP logo.

Yes, it’s been quite an ordeal. I can’t put any weight on my right leg. The crutches hurt my armpits. I have an appointment to see an orthopedic specialist next week. Plus I may have also damaged the meniscus along with my MCL.

Speaking of abbreviations, I may also be consulting an ATM before this is over.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


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