'Complications' turned a life upside down

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Tom Kirvan
Legal News, Editor-in-Chief

“Jeopardy,” the popular game show that has been a TV staple for more than three decades, has been in the spotlight even more recently thanks to contestant James Holzhauer, who has been piling up prize money at nearly the same clip that Congress has been issuing White House subpoenas.

On April 29, Holzhauer won his 18th straight game to push his total prize winnings to an astronomical $1.329 million, including a record $130,000 in a single day. A professional gambler from Las Vegas, Holzhauer reportedly credits much of his success to “timing,” figuring out how to beat other contestants to the punch when every split second counts. Of course, Holzhauer also has plenty of smarts, particularly an almost encyclopedic knowledge of virtually every topic on the daily game board.

Since the show is tape delayed, Holzhauer actually began his winning streak back in February, some two weeks after the Polar Vortex engulfed much of the country. It was about that time in mid-February when I landed upon the “Jeopardy” channel one evening after dinner, just as the final clue was unfolding.

Part of the show’s appeal is that it exchanges “answers” and “questions.” Contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in the form of questions.

In the episode that aired on February 11, the “Final Jeopardy” puzzle to unlock was this: “Complications” was a suggested title for this ABC drama that was renewed for a 15th season in 2018.

By chance, I supplied the right “answer” in the form of a question: “What is ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’” I shouted through the TV to host Alex Trebek.

I should have been wary of such dumb luck since I was about to get a real taste of “Complications” within a matter of a few weeks.

It began in early March, shortly after a long-scheduled knee replacement operation. Within a matter of two days, “complications” began to develop in the form of a series of blood clots, including two in my upper leg that had the potential to dislodge and travel to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism that will bring a quick end to any more “Jeopardy” watching.

Fortunately, there is a high-priced blood-thinner called “Eliquis” that is widely hailed as the preeminent clot-buster of our day even if it can take more than two months to fully work its medical magic.

Now, some eight weeks removed from the operating room, I have come to fully appreciate life on the “disabled list,” where each step can no longer be taken for granted.

That rude awakening began when I returned home after the hospital stay and was faced with a two-step climb from the garage into what once looked like an inviting entryway. That evening, an 18-inch climb into the house might as well have been “El Capitan,” the menacing 3,000-foot vertical ascent from the floor of the Yosemite Valley.

Some how, some way, the climb was managed, setting the stage for even greater obstacles to come – 13 steps to an upstairs bedroom that was destined to serve as my “home away from happy home” for the next few months.

Following two weeks of in-home physical therapy treatments, I then began the challenge of driving 7 miles to a nearby clinic, where I have received a real-life education in the connectivity of various parts of my (not-so-Grey) anatomy.

I also have been schooled in the nuances of pain management, learning the decided ups and downs of such wonder drugs as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and a particularly devilish medicine called Gabapentin. A few doses of the last drug nearly did me in, causing a series of nightmares that were better suited for a horror show convention.

As I eagerly await the last bit of clot busting, I now stand (with one crutch) on the brink of a new knee life, one that holds the promise of pain-free activity for years to come. For those who are contemplating such a surgical journey or are still in the midst of  “recovery,” I truly feel your pain.

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