Have you ever noticed that by focusing on one thing, you can forget about something else? This happens involuntarily in our daily lives, but you can also use this technique with purpose. You can temporarily forget something that is bothering you by focusing on something else, something that you like, or makes you happy, or even busy work. This is the principal behind the book HIT THE KNEE and Other Sage Advice.
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Maybe you noticed, or maybe you didn’t, that Mr. Menace is the author. Now, you may think this is going to be a biased post, and you may be right.
However, I am also a big skeptic. When Mr. Menace told me that he wanted to write a book, I was shocked. I knew that depression was setting in after his surgery, and so I tried to hide my shock and humored him by getting him everything he asked for to proceed, and believe me, I was just humoring him.
The History Behind the Book
After two heart attacks and numerous stents, his cardiologist said he couldn’t patch him up anymore, that he needed open heart surgery, and so, in July 2012, he had quadruple bypass surgery. During his 6 weeks recovery period, he slept. Nothing held his interest as before: not tv, not books, nor his Scientific American or Smithsonian magazines, not even ZUMA.
At about the 3-4 week point, he came to me and said that if he had a comfy chair, and a big screen monitor for his computer, he’d like to write a book. As I said, I was shocked, but went to his old house and got his computer chair, and then to the office and brought home his monitor. He sat down and in a week or two, had written his story.
“I am writing this narrative because I am going stir crazy. Three weeks after having open-heart surgery, cabin fever is getting to me. My activity was very limited the first two weeks of my recovery and I had a lot of time to think about what I was going through, the bad and the good. I found many experiences pre-op and post-op, funny enough to tell others. I decided that writing about the experience would be a good way to pass time during my recovery. My wife says it’s fiction, but I say its factual. Maybe I should say it’s my drug induced version of what really took place. What we have, is, a “cheeky account of my heart bypass surgery.”
Speaking of cheeky…. yes, that IS Mr. Menace’s butt cheek on the cover. Did you miss it? Go ahead. Take another look. I’ll wait.
As we left work on Friday before his surgery on Monday, our supervisor, Dave, warned him that the opening of the hospital gown goes in the back, not the front, as he had worn it for a procedure one time. So, to relieve some tension at 5 am on Monday morning at St. Vincent’s Hospital, I snapped a picture before we closed up his gown and sent it to Dave. Little did we know it would end up as the cover photo on an as yet un-thought of book, helping to win us a Bronze medal in the AuthorsdB Book Cover Contest 2014. All credit for this accomplishment goes to Brian Bohnett of Mad Kings Publishing. It was his brilliant idea.
Using his sense of humor, Mr. Menace told his story to help other heart patients and even more, their families and loved ones get through, understand, and yes, even find humor, in an extremely difficult situation.
Oh yes, I meant to explain the title…
“As I mentioned before, I have a few ways of dealing with pain. I try to ignore it by thinking of something else; some intractable riddle like, black holes, quantum physics or women.
If that doesn’t work, there is another one that I know works. In fact, I have made it work for others. A few years ago, when my boss’s grandson, Kyle, was around five years old, we were at a little league game that his brother and my grandson were playing in. My wife, daughter, son, and I were sitting on the row behind Charlie and Kyle. Kyle asked for money to buy a drink. Taking the cash from his Grandpa, he took off for the concession stand.
Ten minutes later, he came back with big tears in his eyes. His clothes were dirty, his right knee was bleeding, and his drink was just a crumpled waxed paper cup with a little ice and no Coke in it. Charlie asked, “What happened buddy?” Kyle said, “I was running back with my drink and I tripped and fell down.” While his granddad examined his knee, I went to get him another Coke. When I returned, he was looking at his injured knee; sitting quietly with tears rolling down his cheek and lower lip quivering. He thanked me for the Coke and continued looking at his injury. I felt so sorry for him.
I’ve known Kyle all of his life. I’ve played games with him and I have done magic tricks that shocked and amazed him. Once his parents were answering a question he had about a movie and told him that “magic was not real.” He looked at them, dead serious, and said, “Dennis is real.” He has a lot of faith in me.
I said “Hey Kyle, I know a way to make your knee stop hurting.” He turned around and gave me an inquisitive look. I said, “Do you want me to show you?” He smiled and eagerly nodded his head “Yes.” I took the flat of my hand and sharply slapped his uninjured left knee enough to make it – and my hand – sting. Kyle looked at me as if I had lost my mind. I asked him, “Is your other knee hurting now?” He thought for a second, then shook his head “No” and started laughing. The crisis was over and we all resumed watching the game.
Kyle is a wry and funny kid. About fifteen minutes later, the throbbing of his hurt knee got his attention again. He turned halfway around in his seat, held his uninjured knee up to me, and with a sly grin and mock expression of pain said, “Hit the knee, Hit the knee.””
~Hit the Knee, Chapter XI Dealing With Pain, Pages 56-57
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And when times are troubled, HIT THE KNEE!