After today, I will receive a bill in the mail from Group Health for some largish sum, and when I do, before I groan, I will stop and remember Dr. Huff's mini sermon in the sports medicine clinic, me sitting on the crinkly tissue paper bed in rapt attention, the experience of hearing God's voice in this unexpected way.
I drove to see Dr. Huff for my noisy knees. For their continued, increasing cricking and cracking and popping, for the worry that all the invisible pieces of mysterious matter floating around in the space around my kneecap are bits of bone that have flaked off like chunks of ice caps with no place to go. The truth is, I've been grinding down the "what ifs." What if there comes a day when I can't run. What if the pain returns. What if I can't dance or jump or play. What if I have kids one day and I have to limp after them. So I sat on the tissue paper in the examination room with Dr. Huff and his kind eyes, telling him my concerns, and he listened. And then he looked at my knees and listened to them, too.
"So there's the sound, huh?" He said.
I winced as I squatted and straightened back up. "Yeah, that would be it."
"They're... musical." And then he smiled.
This caught me off guard. Musical knees. But I went with it, because I liked it, and because I could feel it was the beginning of a "talk" that I needed to hear.
"Some people's knees are more talkative than others," he continued. "Like you. You've got talkative knees. But that's not necessarily a bad thing."
I nodded, hungry to hear what he had to say.
"I don't like those diagnoses people give - 'You'll need new knees by forty or sixty' - as if they had a crystal ball or something. Let me tell you, I have no crystal ball. There are no crystal balls. We have no guarantees about tomorrow. I guess I just want to reassure you a little, not to go about your activities in fear. Fear that you're 'doing damage' to your knees or your body, fear of how your knees will be down the road. I'd encourage you to rip that tape out that's on continuous replay and run without it. Because you don't know what the future will be. But right now, you can do pretty much whatever you want. You don't appear to have arthritis. You don't have the bone-on-bone thing, because you'd feel that pain. You may need to modify some of the things you do, but really, I think you have some talkative knees. Musical knees."
Man, did he have my number. Haven't I been playing that tape a long time? Haven't I been intimately acquainted with the reality that we have no guarantees for tomorrow? I just needed to hear it again. And probably again. And then again some more. Don't live in fear. This time from the mouth of sixty-one year old, thin-as-a-rail Dr. Huff with his own talkative knees - since his twenties - that have never really slowed him down from living. I just need to learn to appreciate the music of my knees, my own little woodland symphony of bone and soft tissue and who knows what else, the song of chipmunks cracking open an acorn.
Though I won't sell any tickets to this symphony, the trip to Dr. Huff is a bill worth paying.