KNEED-LESS TO SAY IT HURTS
"What say we go up to Peaks Creek for the day and see what we can dredge up?"
How can you turn down an invite like that - you can't; so, the plan is made to go off in search of some trout. Or, most likely a limits worth of the "tree trout" I usually catch all along this little mountain jewel high in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.
Most of the fishing on this stream consists of roll casting or short distance fly flinging due to the overhanging foliage that covers most of the creek.
After arriving at our normal pull off spot and parking our pickups we proceeded to decide who fishes up stream and who goes down with the flip of a coin. Winner by virtue of my trusty two-headed coin (not really) I chose to head up while my buddy went down stream. We agreed to meet back at the truck in about two hours and exchange lies; or at least half truths about our luck this day.
Most of the late afternoon sun light was filtered by the heavy overgrowth all along the stream and the fact that we were wearing camo pants and shirts helped hide us from the wary denizens of the stream bed. Considering the shallow runs and pools of this fishery any advantage gained by us was a big plus.
The usual mantra for this particular place was "Run and gun cause one flip and you're done." If you missed a hook up or happened to luck into and get one to hand it was usually fruitless to keep fishing the same place. You were much better off leaving it to quiet down and head for the next likely looking spot.
It wasn't a spectacular day of catching but enough gorgeous hued rainbows were admired close up that the session passed quickly and it was turn around and go back time.
A few more fish were encountered on the way back and the truck finally came into view; however, no sign of my companion was waiting nearby. Deciding to give a narrow but deeper run a try before crossing the road to the agreed upon meeting place I stepped out of the water and was slowly working my way to the head of the run.
The rocks in this freestone creek are notorious for their slipperiness and we were always well aware of the potential for a cool or freezing bath depending on the time of year. Unfortunately, my hippers were of the old style rubber lug only variety and not the felt bottomed type that should be in use in this area.
Looking downstream, and not paying enough attention to what was directly beneath my feet, resulted in an abrupt and rapid sliding directly backward of my right booted foot. Suddenly my full and robust weight was totally on that foot and the stream bed rocks accelerated upward at an alarming rate and proceeded to contact my right knee with bone crunching force. Fortunately there was a split fraction of time that enabled me to ungrasp the rod before ten flimsy digits contacted the now hurtling rocks with equally terrible force. No head blow was felt as my right forearm was turned just enough towards my forehead to cushion that fat appendage that sits on the shoulders and puts oneself into these predicaments in the first place.
Lying prone and stomach down on the rocks relayed all kinds of pain none of which was pleasant. Even cushioned the snapping head blow was enough to dull ones senses until the numb knee and ten rock trapped fingers regained their feelings all too soon. Naturally, the first and most important reaction and conscious thought was, "Crap - did I break my rod?" Ascertaining it was still in one piece the next point of business was to try and flex all ten digits and see which ones were still able to function properly. Surprisingly, they all worked perfectly as designed except for the nagging sprained tingling in about four of them.
And now for the worst of the body parts. The old forty year ago football injured right knee was numb almost down to the shin and that trickling substance inside my boot probably wasn't creek water as I wasn't laying in it right now. The first assessment of the knee while still lying on the rocks proved correct. It was bloody and bruised but the decision was made to keep moving in case it might stiffen up.
It took a while to regain a standing position as it wasn't a safe bet that the knee could hold my weight without some extra help. A nearby decent sized stream drowned sapling served as a substitute cane for the occasion. Hobbling slowly across the shallow stream it was decided to head for the truck about fifty yards down the road and change my wet shirt and inspect the knee area.
Shortly thereafter my buddy was encountered fishing his way back up and he noticed my tentative limping down towards him and inquired as to the cause.
A recitation of the entire sordid escapade left him sympathetic but slightly chuckling at the imagined but potentially high scoring dive. Told him the knee was sore and bleeding a little but thought I would be okay for work tomorrow. We fished back to our trucks and departed with a little light left in the forest.
Returning home my wife questioned why I was limping and what happened. Another retelling of the grand adventure didn't elicit much sympathy; so, a little soaking and a small bandage and some antiseptic cream were the extent of my first aid.
At 3:00 am I was awakened by shooting pains in the knee and a bedroom lighted inspection revealed a thrice balloon sized knee that now wouldn't straighten all the way out nor bear any weight at all.
Later in the morn it was on to the family doc's office for a closer inspection. A few days later a visit to a retired but consulting ortho doctor was initiated; but, this proved very unhelpful and unproductive as all he wanted to do was shoot up the knee with cortisone and give it a few more days rest. I tried as tactfully as possible to explain to him that I'd been living with a painful never operated on arthritic knee for forty years now and that this fall had finished it off to the point where nothing but surgery would cure the problem.
So, that blew off another few days and then an appointment with a practicing ortho doctor after another wait finally produced a choice that would solve the problem.
My options consisted of either going the conventional route of knee surgery requiring two operations to clean out all the forty year old pieces and wear and tear, harvesting marrow and shipping it off to regrow some more good stuff in a thousand dollars for the container only before shipping back, then the second operation to fix everything and all that goes with it for recovery. Or, experimental surgery, of which the doctor had performed three previous ones with excellent results, which consisted of what I refer to as the "three hole punch" procedure same as when I had a previous hernia repair.
Instead of all the cuttin' and slashin' of normal knee surgery this would be an insertion of three instruments into the knee through three small incisions for light, fluid and the snipping and fixer-upper tool. I was number four in line for this surgery locally and it all worked out exceptionally well. It is referred to as "micro fracturing" so I was told when I inquired about it for a friend. It did require putting absolutely no weight on the knee for a month after surgery and a normal rehab for it that had me back to fishing in the late fall.