A Research Guide for Students by I Lee

Autobiography of Carl Kaas

A Member of the Dutch Underground in World War II

Chapter 125: Indispensable Medics

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A few years ago, after I had my big operation, I was hoping never to need medical services again. When they had me at the chopping block, they could have removed or added anything to sustain my health, but did they? Yes, it seemed that they did a good job. Maybe now I am as good as Margaret, she never ever was in the hospital except for childbirth and visits to some sick friends. It was not until 1963 that I came in contact with our family doctor again.

We had a German shepherd for watchdog at the junk yard. One night, when he was running around outside the fence, I told him to attend to his duty and go inside. However, he was of a different opinion, and refused to obey. Well a swift kick in the butt changed his mind. He went, but on his way, he tore at my hand with his big fangs. The Doc said, "'I'm gonna give you a shot for rabies." I showed my disapproval, because I said, "I don't know any Rabbis and if the Rabbi wants a shot, he can get his own." Apparently, we did not have a meeting of the minds, because Doc explained a shot did not mean a shot of whiskey, but an injection of a serum to prevent me from developing lockjaw. "And a Rabbi is a Jewish priest not to be confused with a sickness called RABIES. This rabies is a bad sickness which can drive you crazy (Don't worry about that Doc, I am already), makes you foam at the mouth and it can even kill you. That means it can be detrimental to your health." Man, did I ever made a fool of myself. Thanks, Doctor Purdon, for teaching me. Anyway, my hand got better quickly, and the hound and me became the best of friends.

Some time later, mostly out of carelessness on my part, I became entangled in a chain and the tractor pulling on it. Luck was with me again when the tractor stalled, but not before I heard a dull snap. After some prying with the help of Frankie Broughten, an employee, we got my leg out and went back to see sawbones. After examining me, he did not think there were any broken bones. Oh well, back to work - got the crutches out and away we went. Some time later, I walked again by myself.

Shortly after that, however, there were times I just fell on the floor, or pavement, or wherever I happened to be, for no other reason than that my knee did not support me. But it only happened once in a while. What in the world was wrong? Why this terrible flash of pain that caused me to fall on my face rather than stay standing on this knee? What was wrong, Doctor? "I suspect a torn cartilage, I'll make an appointment with the specialist."

This professional put me on a cot, aimed a TV camera on the knee and proceeded to do what he wanted to do. Once in a while, I took a peek at my own bones and saw them clearly projected on the screen. Funny, he was poking around with some steel apparatus but there was no pain at all. He said he was going to pull the broken pieces out from between the joints. He certainly knew what he was doing because I never had to fall down again.

What I could not grasp was this joint was similar to that of an automobile. So, how was it lubricated? Originally, it had this cartilage, but now it was removed. Did he put a grease fitting in? I asked the Doc about it, "How can it work from now on?" It worried me a lot. He told me not to think about it. "All is well and soon you will be on your feet again." Okay, if you couldn't trust your surgeon, whom could you trust?

The road to recovery from this accident was very slow. It seemed all the muscles in my leg were on vacation. They were not there anymore. The nurses encouraged me to try to lift my leg, but it was not possible. I tried and tried, and started to wonder if it ever would be normal again.

Another patient in the room who had the same thing could also do nothing with his leg. The nurses berated him for not trying harder. One day a nurse was complaining to another: "This man is watching TV all day and doesn't work on his leg, now he has a Charley horse." Wow, man, a horse. I looked around but could see no horse. So when we were alone, I asked, "Psst, Charley, where do you keep your horse"? The man acted kind of funny and would not answer, probably he did not want to admit to it because it was against the rules to bring a horse to the therapy room. Later on, I found out a Charley horse was not a real one. It was a situation in which your mucles would not cooperate if you didn't work on it hard enough, or something like that. You see, I learned something again today. Mama always said you have to learn as long as you live. Yes, it was a very unpleasant feeling, trying to use my leg and it felt totally useless. But I kept on pushing and trying. They say, "Time heals all wounds", and indeed it did. When my leg got better, it never gave me trouble again.

Related resources:

Charley horse from Wikipedia. "A charley horse is a popular colloquial term in Canada and the United States of America for painful spasms or cramps in the leg muscles, typically lasting anywhere from a few seconds to about a day."

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