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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

[You in the Real World, be sure to click on the red underlined hyperlinks!]

Run, Forrest, run!

This week marks the one-year anniversary of my titanium-knee implant.

Boss, whispers Screen Three, you may want to use some word other than “implant” when referring to artificial surgical alterations.

I’m still fascinated at seeing my right foot properly angled.

Bah! humphs Six. It no longer mirrors your pigeon-toed left.

Symmetry is lost, agrees Two. Could you have your foot twisted back?

Six isn’t done barking. Bet you ruined that beautiful pigeon-toed butterfly you once swam so fiercely.

“Don’t compete these days,” I reply. “Struggling just to walk well.”

So no more bridge jumping? asks Four. Ah, well. Doctors don’t exactly support your leaping from perfectly good – and very high – bridges into shallow rivers.

Bridge jumping?” I laugh heartily. “Jumping at all is painful. Yesterday you guys learned that right along with me.”

True, Black, admits One. You, whom we so easily talk into “stepping” off a three-foot wall –

“Really? That’s all it is? Just three feet?”

do quite a dance when you land. Lots of motion.

But not much rhythm, protests Three. Real Worlders would think I’m not even in your head.

Suggests Two, Let’s look at how far you’ve come instead of what you’ve lost.

“Great idea, Two! And right off the bat, I have this story ….”

It’s yet another bad day for balance. I try to follow the chiropractor as he walks to the other side of the exam room but smash – several times – into his medical equipment.

“You OK?” he asks. “What’s up?”

I remind him of The Accident. He nods in familiarity. I also remind him he earlier had told me he could not simultaneously treat my busted body and imbalance.

Today, though, determined Dr. Targonski squares his jaw, speeds down the hallway, yanks several sections of my file, hurries back. Reading notes and flicking eyes across X-rays, he says, “We just have to get you comfortable with your new knee and its correcting behavior.”

Several minor adjustments performed, Doc says, “Stand up. How do you feel, Black?”

“Light-headed. As though I might – ”

Blackie sways involuntarily, lectures Five to the other screens. Holds stomach anxiously. That means he is about to –

“ – toss my cookies.”

“Back on the table,” commands Doc, a manipulating medical man in motion. “OK. Now … get up slowly and come this way.”

I walk the line. A perfectly straight line.

Da man! roar all six screens in my ears. Whether they praise physician or pedestrian, I know not. I do know this kid cuts curvy patterns around chiro equipment without crashing into a single chromed unit.

Comments One, So impressed is your youngest brother that he writes a letter to the family confirming your newfound balance.

Rip Van BlackwellBarry: I have been in contact with Den’s agent. The rumors are indeed true that his athletic prowess is on the mend. Medical books label him a modern-day “Rip Van Winkle” because any and all abilities asleep the past 20 years are awakened.

“Guys, I’m not sure his last line is flattering.”

Way more flattering than the physical therapist’s words, spits Three.

“My PT was awesome!” I fire back in surprise. “Remember excellent – and encouraging – Thomas Zuver?”

Excellent, indeed, affirms Four cheerily. Outstanding young man. But we speak of – and here he utters a most unpleasant bearish growl – the bums before Zuver.

“Oh.” Replaying the memory, six screens and I hold our stomachs “anxiously” ….

“I’ve got you,” assures the young woman clutching the huge safety belt wrapped ’round my waist. But distracted, she releases her hold moments later. I teeter, totter, topple, only the swift response of a leaping senior PT preventing my kissing floor face-first.

The shocked siren I call “wife” politely –

Firmly! corrects One.

– requests a different therapist. Unfortunately, her request is honored.

“See that woman next to you, Mr. Blackwell?” asks the new therapist, a proud, young hotshot pointing to the gal running on high-tech equipment beside me. “Had BOTH knees done. And she’s 74.”

Seething, Six suggests I show the PT my soccer-style kicks have not deserted me.

Displaying annoyance, the youth leads me to a small half-wall. “Let go of your walker,” he says, tight-lipped, “and do these exercises.”

“Can’t. No balance. Says so right in my release chart.”

“Do it, anyway,” he threatens and walks toward a group of equally young women.

Deserting us to chat with cute PT’s, tattles Three.

Forget him! shouts Six. We are men, not mice. Full steam ahead, Black!

Two minutes into the rigorous exercise, I flip over.

Well, almost, reminds Five. Your beautiful brown-eyed bride – she of the ever-watchful eye – anticipates your trouble and catches you.

“Then she gets the PT and ‘warmly’ explains why he will stay beside me in the future.”

At which time, sizzles Six, that rogue PT leans over to you and says, “You are already so far behind where you should be, you will never catch up. Man up and leave the chick at home.”

Therapy stops then and there. Back home, Miss Laura researches, interviews, selects the aforementioned Tom Zuver, who patiently leads me to levels well beyond normal post-surgery recovery.

Screen Three is visibly moved. Tom and Laura … there for you in your hour of knee.


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Postscript: Mike, eldest Blackwell sibling, shares my ambulatory struggles, as seen in his recap of an athletic event.

I’m at bat in my slow-pitch softball league.  It’s a close game. Very close. Which for us already is a moral victory.

I hammer one between second and third and take off for first, my knees becoming powerful pistons.  The 30-year-old shortstop stops the ball but has trouble bending over to actually pick it up because he’s, ummmm – well, he’s fat.

Though he does pick up the softball, he drops it again. Finally the shortstop throws a soft lob to first, but it’s cool because I am FLYING! I might even try for second!!!

“YOU’RE OUT!'” screams umpire as ball hits first baseman’s glove four full steps before I get there.

After the game, a fan asks me, “Why didn’t you run to first base, Mike? Why did you shuffle your feet?”

Getting old is NOT for the faint of heart!

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