LOADING
• Sunday, December 6, 2009
We're on the far end of 7th Avenue, Park Slope. It's cold. There's a bus, coming to its stop, half a block ahead. Let's catch it. Carole jogs ahead with Max in the stroller. I start running.

I've gauged my recovery these past six months by my stretching in bed. Each morning, I stretch out the sleep—arms, body, toes—and start my day. And each morning I've felt slow progress in the knee, some subtle acclimation of simultaneously shaking off the invasive procedure and incorporating someone else's DNA into my system. Got to the point in late October where I didn't think about my leg first thing each morning. Got better and better.

Dr. Stein wants me to wear another $800 brace, and maybe I'll get it if I don't trust myself on the ice this winter. Stairs are still a bitch. But here I am: walking through the world with Carole and Max. That's been my goal all along. That guy at the Y can stay on his side of the line.

I start running for the bus. But I can't run. My legs have forgotten how. So I run with my left leg and drag-walk my right leg to catch up to the rest of me. It's ugly, but I get there.

I sit next to Carole. She says, “You look like something out of Benny Hill.”

She likes that show.

• The Afterburn
I went with the allograft—harvested cadaver tissue—for my procedure and not an autograft, which would've borrowed from my own parts. Recovery is quicker, residual pain is lessened. They said. Of course, I've maintained a keen interest in my unwitting donor. Here's what I know to date (December, 2009): The donor was black male, 24 years old. Most likely killed in a car crash.
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From: Joseph Stein
Date: December 3, 2009
To: Hal Klopper

The graft came from the Miami Tissue Bank.
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From:
Hal Klopper
Date: December 10, 2009 
To: Joseph Stein

Dr. Stein,
My knee feels better and better. I'm up to two miles on the bike at the gym, minimal resistance, and 20-pound leg lifts, both legs, three sets of 20. No problems. Occasional aches and pains, nothing out of the ordinary. Going down the stairs remains my most guarded activity
mostly anticipatory as opposed to actual discomfort.

Many thanks for following up on my allograft donor. I've visited the web site for the Miami Tissue Bank and cannot find a means to track the donor. Couple of questions:
  • The implant label you sent me on 11/24: Do I also have this label in my knee? (If the grocery clerk scanned my knee, would she call the manager for a price check?)
  • Any other means you know of to find my donor and his family? Again, with utmost discretion, my intent is to send an anonymous donation to the family.
Happy Hanukah,
Hal Klopper
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From: Joseph Stein
Date: December 10, 2009
To: Hal Klopper

Glad to hear from you.
The graft is not barcoded.
Perhaps you could run ads in the Miami Herald.