By BJ Reyes
See that chubby little high schooler† in the photo below? That would be yours truly, circa 1988.
This is probably the simplest way to introduce the Cleveland Clinic and how I came to be under the care of doctors there and why I'm getting ready to go there now. This article was from the hospital's quarterly newsletter "Cleveland Clinic Checkup" (which somehow seemed to be sent to every home in my northeast Ohio ZIP code in the summer of 1988).
It just so happened we moved to suburban Cleveland in the early 1980s because of my dad's job. I guess the trade-off for a sports fan being subjected to such lousy pro teams (maybe the Kardiac Kid Browns of the day weren't SO bad) was having such a world-class medical facility nearby.
The initial cancer diagnosis, osteogenic sarcoma, was in February 1985, followed by three months of intense chemotherapy and surgery in May of that year. Mine certainly wasn't the first total femur replacement back then, but it wasn't exactly a common practice, either. A more common solution was to amputate (in the 1970s, Ted Kennedy Jr. and Canadian runner Terry Foxx had their legs amputated because of osteosarcoma).
Long story short (for now) my prosthesis has required a handful of revisions for wear and tear over the years but also developed a staph infection in the 1990s. The infection required several surgeries (I've honestly lost track, but it's around seven or eight) and was largely suppressed until September of last year, when the most recent revision in my knee, to replace some of the original cement which had cracked, stirred it up again.
Despite the best efforts of my surgeon here, Dr. Thomas Kane, (an outstanding orthopedic surgeon who I would recommend to anyone, and will in later posts) the infection continues to fester and will, at some point, become a much larger problem unless dealt with on a larger level.
Enter, the Cleveland Clinic, where this whole thing was installed in the first place. I'm getting the whole thing replaced. But it's much more complicated than that (and that already sounds plenty complicated).
So that's where this is all at now and that's what this blog will focus on in the coming days/weeks/months.
More to come ...
†Out of no other reason than sheer vanity, I feel the need to mention that I probably weigh less today than I did when that photo was taken. =)