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DEaVF1 Essay 6 Tuesday, April 20, 1982 4/23 (17%) candidate joints hospital surgical replacement
– Dreams, "Evolution", and Value Fulfillment: Volume One
– Introductory Essays by Robert F. Butts
– Essay 6 Tuesday, April 20, 1982

[... 5 paragraphs ...]

Being a proper candidate meant that I would turn my life over to medical science in the hospital for at least a year: a year spent in therapy, surgical procedures, and more therapy, until I ended up having at least four separate operations. My knee joints and hip joints could thus be replaced.

My condition had certain drawbacks, however: The two sides of my body were uneven, so I could end up with four bright new metal and plastic joints and still not be able to walk properly. I might need a cane, or a walker. Medical science would be willing to try, however. Out of the goodness of its heart, all of its scientific procedures would be put at my disposal. True, the amount of money required for such surgical possibilities was staggering, but insurance of one kind or another could be found to carry the cost. (We didn’t have nearly enough money, but could qualify for adequate insurance by fulfilling the terms of an 11-month waiting period.) But regardless of cost, one orthopedist saw me staying right in the hospital—now that I was there—until the entire procedure was finished. Particularly if, again, I proved to be a proper candidate.

[... 11 paragraphs ...]

What might happen to the body, I wondered, even if its psychic tenant were willing to endure any or all of those “surgical procedures”? I answered my own question by remembering accounts I had on file, explaining how people of various ages had withstood numerous, incredible operations, sometimes over a period of years. But I was horrified to think that my dear wife might become involved in a similar reality, with or without my unwitting compliance. I knew that she was far from making any decisions about surgery, but I recoiled from pushing any such suggestions upon her, no matter how fine it would be to see her on her feet. Joint-replacement operations were irreversible procedures, and I also had on file material about how they sometimes failed.

Short of outright failure, however, some of the articles I’ve collected contain the information that a conventional artificial joint replacement—for a knee, say—usually lasts only from four to seven years before loosening. A most discouraging prospect! What does one do when the insert begins to wobble? None of the doctors we’d talked to had mentioned such a possibility. (One can always claim that being able to walk for even four years is a lot better than not walking at all!) Jane and I also read that through experiments with animals medical designers are working to perfect an artificial knee joint with porous surfaces, to promote better bonding of bone to metal; it could last 15 years or more. Someday, I told Jane, and regardless of whether or not we ever choose to take advantage of any of them, we’ll be questioning orthopedic surgeons very closely about what “surgical procedures” are available.

[... 2 paragraphs ...]

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