Happily Bionic

How many people do you know who have an artificial hip, or knee, or some other body part?  If you are like me, you know many such people.  They used to walk with tortured gaits, wincing as they favored their “bad knee” or “bad hip.”  Then they went under the knife, endured rehabilitation, and now are happily pain-free and advocates of joint replacements.

Such operations are not without risk, of course.  They involve major surgery.  Dr. Science, who is having both knees replaced, explained the procedure:  the surgeon slices the leg open, uses a whining bone saw to cut through the tibia and femur, removes the unattached knee, replaces it with the artificial knee, and then securely anchors the new knee to the bones above and below.  When you’ve had such a significant operation, you’re going to need lots of recuperation time.  And, of course, artificial knees and hips can fail, and most in any case have a limited life span — so if you’re young enough, you might need to undergo another operation in 12, or 15, or 18 years.

Still, my friends who’ve had successful joint replacements swear by their new bionic body parts.  Their failing knees and hips forced them to endure intense, constant pain for years.  Now, that pain is gone, and they can scarcely believe how wonderful it is to walk, or climb stairs, or sit without feeling like you’re being stabbed by demons.  Is it any wonder, then, that our bionic friends are among the loudest proponents of such surgery?

Without fanfare, we are living through the bionic revolution in medicine, where high-tech, full-scale replacements of joints have become commonplace and we peacefully coexist with friends who fall within the technical definition of cyborgs.