Last winter I joined the ranks of countless skiers when I tore my left ACL on the slopes of Park City, Utah. Two months later I had ACL replacement surgery where I received a cadaver ligament and 3 screws in my left knee, followed by four and a half months of extremely intensive physical (and arguably psycho-) therapy.
I waited in the physical therapy waiting room until a man looking twenty-five with a slight build, brown eyes and hair, and the chunky black leather old-man therapeutic shoes worn by all non-doctor health care workers arrived with my chart. “Hi I’m Ned, follow me please,” he said. I crutched it over to a table, where he took off my brace and examined my knee. My leg was hairy, black and blue, and covered in surgical tape to prevent the stitches from opening. A sharp pain shot through my leg. “Ouch, that’s tight.”
“I know it is. I’m stretching it,” he said. “I’m aggressive, so this may hurt.” I took a closer look at him. “Do you ever get Jimmy Fallon?”
“Yeah, I’ve gotten that a few times,” he said sheepishly.
Normally I make a great first impression and people naturally open up to me, but Ned – generic, gray-sweatered, aggressive, yet listless – wasn’t having it. I thought about switching therapists but figured it would look too suspicious.
He explained the whole physical therapy process, guided me through some BOSU ball balancing exercises, and then I was done. I would have physical therapy three times a week for the next two months. As I was leaving, another patient said goodbye to him and called him Nenad.
“Nenad, that’s your name?”
“Yes it is.”
“I’ve been calling you Ned this whole time.”
“Yes, you have.”
“How embarrassing. What type of name is Nenad?”