Bone Bondo

An update for those of you following my Knee Blowout…

Last week I saw the doctor for the first time since surgery. Bottom line is I have 4 more weeks of “no weight bearing” and cannot drive. Grrrrr.

The doctor looked me over and his nurse removed the staples. He nodded and poked and said the swelling was about what he expected. Then he whipped out the photos from the surgery- which I was a bit reluctant to examine- but managed not to pass out.

After he explained some of the images I finally got to ask the question we’d been pondering for two weeks:

“What exactly did you put in my knee?”

He explained it’s a bone powder. The original plan to scrape some of me into the sinkhole was a no-go because the sinkhole was too big. But it wasn’t so large as to require a bone graft from a cadaver. So instead he spooged it full of this paste that is made from ground up human bone. Iyygh.

He explained it’s the consistency of cake frosting and grainy, as you might expect. Basically it’s Bone Bondo! After smoothing off he coats it with this collagen “glue” to keep it in place and sent me home. Over time my own bone will grow into this void, using the Bone Bondo as a sort of lattice to help fill the sinkhole.

Or so we hope.

A Life in Pictures

I recently discovered a unique archive of photographs. They are the work of a man named Nick De Wolfe.

from the Nick De Wolfe archive
Every little boy loves a radial engine.

I had never heard of Mr. De Wolfe, but suffice to say he was quite an interesting man. He snapped a lot of pictures throughout his life, and was one hell of a photographer. The voluminous stacks, accumulated over a lifetime, are currently being scanned by De Wolfe’s son-in-law, Steve Lundeen.

I was fascinated paging through the images from all over the world- some from places I have visited. One of the more interesting sets involves a vacation trip from New York to Stockholm in 1959. For highlights and a wonderful explanation of this unique archive visit A Continuous Lean.

Or view the entire collection on Flickr…

Nick De Wolfe Photo Archive

Crutches Suck

I’ve thought this over, and I’m pretty certain this is my final decision.

And I don’t mean crutches suck just because they always turn up when you’re busted up or crippled or lame.

I mean they suck because for a jillion years nobody has come up with a better way. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t make crutches that don’t impale your armpits?!? Where’s NASA when you need ’em?

Scar from my recent knee surgery. Ouch!


My Knee Blowout

Last November my knee “blew out.” I felt what seemed like a couple of gunshots. I’m sure it wasn’t really that loud- but it seemed like it to me! I maintained my balance, but was suddenly unable to straighten my right leg.

This set into motion my first experience with surgery, and another foray into the confusing land of medical care in America.

Everyone wants to know how it happened, but I have no exciting story to tell. I wasn’t playing football or racing or roofing the house. I was walking through the kitchen- the most strenuous activity preceding “the event” was kneeling down to pick up a box.

I contacted our doctor and she gave me a prescription for miloxicam and referred me to Tulsa Bone & Joint. By now I could straighten my leg, but standing or sitting was tedious. Certain positions would randomly send a sharp pain through my leg. Wearing a knee brace helped with walking, but seemed to cause more problems when sitting.

When I finally got to see the doctor I was managing to get around pretty good. After shooting some X-rays I waited for the doctor to look them over. When he walked into the exam room his first words were, “Is this the first time this has bothered you?”

I didn’t like the sound of that.

In any other business.
The X-ray showed a “sinkhole” in my femur. A sliver of bone fragment was also visible between the femur and the knee cap. That was the cause of my random pain, and occasional locked knee. He recommended an MRI to show more detail.

The MRI showed the sinkhole in greater detail. He explained that a chunk of my femur had been busted loose many years ago. They could tell this by the new growth around the edges of the sinkhole. It appeared that the chunk had broken but stayed in place for quite some time. When I kneeled down on that fateful day in November it was kicked out of place and became debris floating around inside my knee.


At this point I was referred to Dr. John Balbas, MD. His specialty is this type of thing and he offered me a few options. The bare minimum was to go in and clean out the debris. On the other end of the scale we had joint replacement or bone graft from a cadaver. In between was the option to fill in the sinkhole with some of my tissue scraped off of another area or take a sample of my cartilage for reproducing at a lab.

He recommended we clean it out and use some of my tissue to fill in the void. This would require 4-6 weeks recovery, the first few days off my feet completely and the first week or two on crutches. From here it got weird.

As the day for surgery got closer I was ordered to come in for a blood test and EKG, given various instructions for the night and morning before and asked a one by one if I was allergic to anything in the known universe. With all the information before me the only two questions nobody could answer seemed like the most obvious:

What time?
How much will it cost?

It turns out you don’t find out the time for your surgery until the day before. Everyone acted like this was common knowledge and seemed to be bothered when I asked. The cost is still unknown.

The most confusing part of this whole mess has been the conflicting information.

One party told me beforehand it was okay to shave my knee the day before surgery- the nurse in the operating room was shocked to discover I had shaved my knee.

One phone call advised to eat nothing after midnight, but coffee or water was okay if I didn’t use any creamer- the morning of my surgery the nurse told me I shouldn’t have put anything in my mouth. Not even chew gum!

After the procedure the doctor spoke with my wife. He stressed that crutches would be needed for at least six weeks. Quite a change from his original week or two. Then to top it off he said I shouldn’t even drive a car for six weeks!

So far it’s been 24 hours. The crutches have done a number on my armpits. My knee is sore and swollen, but the pain is tolerable. Hopefully things are looking up.

Save Sixty Years

As you enter Oklahoma on I-44 in the northeastern corner of our state you pass a sign. It’s an official highways sign, but it’s really an advertisement. It’s an advertisement for the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority touting the benefits of traveling the Will Rogers Turnpike. It shows an I-44 marker and says something like “save two hours, follow this sign.”

Follow this sign, save sixty years.
Why not "advertise" our culture instead of our turnpikes?

Many years ago I imagined a similar sign that should be posted along that same stretch of highway. I sketched it on a long-forgotten paper device known as a “sketchbook.” I recently created the digital version you see here.

I was prompted to share this after reading a Tulsa World article about a new task force dedicated to helping Tulsa promote its Route 66 history. I wrote a short article about the topic for our Two Wheel Oklahoma blog:

Task Force Promotes Route 66 in Tulsa

Oklahoma has more miles of Route 66 than any other state and Tulsa has lagged in her efforts to market this rich history. I hope this endeavor gains traction.