The tear of my left knee’s lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is only partial, according to Doc Russia. Nevertheless, it’s bad enough that I need 6-8 weeks’ “light duty” (as we called it in the army).

This means that I will not be able to make the Portledge high bird shoot in Devon with Mr. Free Market on Wednesday, because the shoot involves scrambling along muddy hillside paths and steep climbs and descents and both he and Doc Russia have banned me from any such foolishness. So High Bird Shooting will remain on Ye Olde Buckette Lyste until sometime in the future, and all my shotgun lessons at Barbury and Royal Bisley were for naught. (Not wasted, of course — lessons and practice are never wasted — but for this event, irrelevant.)

I’m even wearing a knee brace just to get up and down the stairs at Free Market Towers.

Other than a sprained ankle as a boy, this is the first time in my life that I’ve suffered any kind of serious physical injury.

And I don’t bloody like it.


  1. Piker. I was knocked un-conscious three times before I finished high school. (I grew up on a ranch. Large animals, tall trees, etc.). Snapped my left Achilles tendon in my 40’s doing yard work. Hurt. A lot. Spent seven weeks in a non-walking leg cast. Sucks. During that time, won a WWII history contest the prize for which was a ride on this ship—


    Get well soon. The birds await.

  2. No elevator or powered chair at Free Market Towers? Have his manservant carry you up and down. Or, you might request the upstairs maid help you up. She could also assist you on the stairs.

  3. Quitcherbellyacheing and remember, your right arm is not crippled. The local Ale is superb, the local whisky is excellent and you do not have to traipse over hill and dale trying to keep up with others.
    You will be warm and dry, well fed and inebriated. What’s to complain about?

  4. In the days of yore, when on bivouac, the warriors went out on patrol, and the halt and lame tended to the campsite – prepare meals, dig drains, etc.
    There will be a need to pluck, clean and dress the bounty brought home by the hunters. Don’t be a malingerer KdT – plucking awaits. ( Exit stage left to the song “I am not a pheasant plucker, I am a pheasant plucker’s son …).

    1. Perfection. That black motorbike/sidecar the Two Fat Ladies used (Triumph Thunderbird with a double-wide sidecar) would be a delightful mobile platform.

  5. I wonder if Doc Russia can recommend prophylactic measures to prevent such an injury. Way Back When, the trainers taped us before each practice and each game, all of us got ankles taped, a few also got the knees taped, a couple got the very early (and rather cumbersome) versions of what we’re seeing now as scientifically-engineered carbon fiber knee reinforcement bracing. I’m a beneficiary of that science, a stout elastic and fiberglas reinforced knee brace part of the essential kit for any athletic pursuit decades after all that pigskin wrasslin’. Never injured sufficiently to require surgical correction, but did get benched once for four weeks and consigned to the not-so-tender mercies of the rehabbers in their fluorescent-lit dungeon. I still wake up screaming some nights…..

    One afternoon on a dove expedition I didn’t make it even partway across a well-plowed field; had to turn back and retrieve the Magic Knee Device from the truck lest tragedy befall my compromised ambulatory appendage, and I quietly hoped the lack of ankle taping wouldn’t contribute to a failure there. I learned during a campfire session that my comrades, to a man, all had similar, but lesser, ambulatory ailments. Seems as one ages there’s a point where minor, and easily ignored, previously-applied stress becomes cumulative, so it may be that a little preventative action, or accessory, could spare us a worse experience.

  6. pd, I have 2 (expensive) prescription braces; #1 is the Torquemada version – rather heavy nylon with stout velcro straps, 2 above, 2 below the knee, an open “window” for the kneecap, and a hinged flat fiberglas strip on each side. It extends about 8-9 inches above and below the knee. It prevents me from fully straightening the leg, and it’s pretty damn uncomfortable after an hour, by hour 3 I’m looking for relief, but it does support the knee and prevents lateral movement, which is what it’s supposed to do. #2 is an all-elastic version of the same thing – no velcro “torture straps” and I can wear it under a suit (which should not be interpreted as meaning it’s a pleasure to wear). I also have an El Cheapo elastic version from the neighborhood sports store which I wear around the house (without it there’s no pain, but I can feel the knee ‘pop” with each step and a bad slip on an icy sidewalk or slippery tile would probably be Game Over).

    If just standing around or walking on smooth surfaces I can get by with #2, on irregular surfaces or long walks I have to go with #1; #2 can be pulled up the bare leg with some difficulty, installing #1 requires a few minutes of unrestricted access to the leg from calf to thigh to get it positioned right. I’m due for knee replacement on that side which I’ve been putting off because it will come with a simultaneous ACL repair, and require 2-4 weeks on crutches, another 4-8 in rehab and unknown status after that. I’m hoping afterward I can get by with just an elastic brace for most casual/light activities, but often that’s not how things go, so I’m searching for a 3-6 month window in the time budget.

    I’d suggest if you have knee problems, see an orthopaedist who specializes in sport injuries, but be advised some are a little scalpel-happy, which is understandable – a lot of what they see are injuries serious enough to require surgical correction, but everything should begin with an MRI to assess. One path might be visit a rehab outfit that does a lot of sports injury and post-surgery rehabs. I know of several near me, and they all prefer a doctor’s rehab plan to work from for serious stuff, but they will do stretching, muscle strengthening and motion improvement therapy without it. Don’t ignore the strengthening stuff – improving muscles generally, and especially around the suffering joint, helps secure the joint by strengthening the supporting muscle structure. Be prepared for slow progress and a near-constant level of moderate soreness the first several weeks (ibuprofen is your friend); they won’t push you harder than you can handle, but they will push you (if you wind up with a physical therapist who doesn’t push you, you have the wrong therapist). In the end you’re the one who has to do the work, you get out what you put in, and the positive benefits are not just physical. And as an aside, take a look at Mark Rippetoe’s book Starting Strength. I don’t do everything he recommends (he’s big on squats, but I’m limited there) but I have found what I do of it is very beneficial. He also has a YouTube channel. A lot of strength coaches simply say “do this,” Rippetoe explains in detail why you should “do this.”

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