Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Popularity Issue: Knee Jerk Reaction

Replacement Knee Surgery
     The good people over at Business Week Magazine put out their Popularity Issue the other day, in which they examine the things that we Americans use or choose the most.  So it's kind of like figuring out the collective favorites of 300 million people. All this week we here at Big Dave and Company are going to be examining some of the things off the list to find out what we can learn about you, Company.

     We have given this week's special promotion the title "The Popularity Issue" because we are talking about the things that are the most popular.  Makes sense, right?  Except that we aren't necessarily always talking about the most popular things.  Sometimes we are just talking about the things that we are having done the most.  Like knee replacement surgery.  I am not sure that anyone in their right mind is signing up for knee replacement operations just because all their friends are or something, but apparently there are two things that are leading us in droves to our friendly local orthopedists.
     First of all, we are getting fatter.  I am getting fatter right now as we speak.  I can actually hear it.  And for all the skinny minnies out there wandering around, and girls in their skinny jeans that you just sort of want to force feed a cheeseburger to, we are, as a nation, getting fatter.  But we are apparently getting more active at the same time, which seems counter intuitive.  I am not sure why buy we appear to be playing more sports - or since we are grossly overweight all of the sudden a shameful and shambolic form of the sports we love - and we are ripping the innards out of our knees at an alarming rate.
      Or at least that is what Business Week postulates.  I think that it is because we see our favorite famous athletes tearing their ACL, MCL, MRE, MCI, and just about every other three-letter combination.  Oh and their patellar tendons too, don't forget those.  Anyway, we are watching football and baseball players tearing their joints to bits and we want to be just like them.  So out we go, in our brand new Cincinnati Bengals Terrell Owens jerseys at the friendly local park and then WHAM-O! we are in the hospital in one of those strange traction things where our legs are up in the air.
     So anyway, 750,000 or so of us every year trundle into the doctor's office and stick our HMO for the cost of a total knee replacement, almost two to one over total or partial hip replacements.  I would expect that to change as the Baby Boomers come of age.  Which might be good because the average knee replacement, the most popular of all orthopedic surgeries in America, costs $58,000.  And we wonder why our insurance premiums are going up and up and up.
    So what do we do, Company?  How do we combat this and make it so hip replacements or elbowectomies are the most popular of the replacement surgeries, like God and nature intended?  Well, the first thing we can do is lose weight, which is all well and good except that everyone is perpetually on a diet and nothing is getting done.  It's like we are all city workers digging a hole.  So maybe we should just sit around more - not play so many sports, not be such weekend warriors all the damn time.  That works, except it will inevitably lead us into the more fat part.  But hey, that is what Rascal scooters are for, now isn't it?  Maybe we should just all ride those things around.  We can have Rascal scooter basketball and football games down at the park.  Then we'd all be having neck replacements and whiplash operations, but at least the knee replacement wouldn't be number one anymore.  That's got to count for something, right?