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Knee Surgery – Day 9

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This is the continuing story of recovery from partial knee surgery. The last installment was Day 7.

Day 7 was Tuesday. 8 days after my surgery. I am learning to sleep in a bed again, though it is difficult. The previous explanation was that my heels would hit the bed and force my knee to bend which was achy. So I tried putting my heels over the bottom edge of the bed. That didn’t work because the bottom is wood and very hard on the Achilles tendon. The newer way was to place a towel, rolled up lengthways and lay it over the wood. That worked. Much better. But then it didn’t. I think the explanation is more complicated than originally believed.

My knee seems to need some kind of constant motion. As soon as motion stops, the knee begins to stiffen. When it stiffens, it aches. So about every 5-15 minutes, depending, I think on what part of the knee is stretched, some further motion is needed. Day 8 was the most learned to get close to a fix of this problem. In one motion, I lay on my left side. I put a hard foam pillow under my right leg and bent it close to 90 degrees. I laid my left leg in front of the pillow so the knee was not lying on the pillow. I bent the knee close to 90 degrees as well. I was able to sleep for about an hour before I awakened with an achy knee. I tried that another part of the night. Only slept about a half hour, but either one is far better than 5 minute increments of sleep.

Day 7 was a tough night for sleeping and I got very little sleep. I used most of the night for doing my exercises. Indeed, I did exercise most all of the night time hours. During Day 8 I continued my exercises a lot of the day. When my wife got home she drove me to therapy. By the time bedtime arrived, I was exhausted. This was a deliberate act because I was so restless in sleep the previous night.

Day 8 was the most difficult day of therapy yet. Jorge was my therapist and he was a slave driver. First after checking my leg out and asking a few questions, he put heat on the knee. I should’ve figured this was the calm before the storm. After the heat, he measured my maximum knee bend which was far better than Day 1. I did some exercises and confessed that the knee hurt so badly that yesterday and today I did few exercises. I think Jorge decided today was make-up day for those I didn’t do yesterday.

After the exercises on the cot, we then did some walking assisted with the crutch. First it was with two, then one and Jorge made suggestions. I was told to walk with one crutch inside the house and two outside the house. I thought that was good because there is little room in the house to maneuver two crutches. Then we got into serious exercises. The first one involved an elastic strap around a pole. I had to pull the strap back till it was taut, and then bend my knee. Then I was to straighten the knee using only my knee quads, not my butt, and hold for 5 seconds each. I did 20. It hurt to do these, and I hardly got through them all. We then did step-ups which actually felt good.

Last, I did rocking motions on a stationary upright bicycle. The seat was high. I could hardly get on the bike due to my foot being weak. Finally I was up. What I had to do was roll my left leg around going one way until the leg wouldn’t go further, then rock the leg going back the other way, until it the leg wouldn’t go anymore that way. I had to do that for 6 minutes. I thought it was going to kill me! The forward motion of the leg was far more painful as well as far less motion than the backward motion. At my question on why this was, Jorge explained how the muscles of the leg were laid out. The muscles on top of the leg run from hip to past the knee. The muscles on bottom of the leg, run from hip to above the knee. Forward motion is done by the top muscles so they can’t go as far due to lack of development right now. Rearward motion is the under muscles which don’t come down as far and is easier, even development problems from the surgery.

When I was done with the bike I could hardly move. I hobbled back to the cot on my one crutch and lay down and got ice the rest of the time for about 10 minutes. When it was time to leave, I could hardly leave the cot. Or move. No pain, just a lot of achiness from the therapy. By the time I got home, it was truly time for some numbing pills. No more exercise this night, except walking around the house! I’m not sure I could have exercised even if I had wanted to.

Finally, it was time for bed! I decided to try the new things with the hard foam pillow and lying on my left side. Indeed, it did work and I got about 90 minutes or so extra sleep. But still, 90 minutes extra during a sleeping time of about 7 hours, isn’t really very much if the rest of the time one is turning, or trying to turn, or getting out of bed to redo the towel over the bed, etc. In short, I STILL didn’t get a good night’s sleep!

What I do before bed since this sleep issue has been with me, is just before I climb into bed I get all my calm down, pain numbing pills taken right up till it’s time to climb in. I leave the pills at the bedside and when I wake up, if the timing is right, I take another pill. Conceivably then, my body is numbed from pain as far as its going to get, and if I can get the right position I should have no problem sleeping. This should give the reader an understanding of this aggravation of aching and not sleeping. Because, usually, I never have an issue of sleep. Except now.

Day 9 has been a good day. I have exercised at the appropriate times. Due to learning about the crutches yesterday in therapy, I’ve been diligent with the single crutch in the house. I took a walk outside, though it’s clearly winter again in this area. I used two crutches outside and walked up and down the driveway several times before heading back in. I didn’t go back in until I had a small ache in my knee that wouldn’t go away. On returning, I iced the knee, and read until the ice warmed up.

I contacted the office of my doctor. They had been supposed to send me an appointment with the doctor after surgery but had not. I got that date from them. I found that I had to continue wearing my compression sox until the doctor advised different when he saw me in the next appointment. I was told I could take the bandage off at any time, or I could allow my therapist to remove it. I was happy about the therapist as I’m not sure I want to be the first one to look at the stitches from this surgery. I’m hoping that once the bandage is removed, there won’t be so much stretching of the knee and so much pain and achiness at the site of the incision when I do exercises and therapy. The last part of the conversation with the nurse was the best – She advised I could stop taking the narcotic medication anytime I wanted to!! When I stop taking that, I can begin driving again!! Woohooooo!!!

Again, my intent is to continue this blog until I have returned to 100% in my opinion. Although I’m gaining on that goal every day, it is not yet close.

Knee Surgery – Day 10

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This is the continuing saga of the recovery of a middle age (at least in my mind) man who had partial replacement knee surgery 11 days ago.

Today was an enlightening day in many ways. First of all, I let the therapist remove the bandage after my doctor permitted it by phone. I was not interested in being the first to view that knee, just in case. So Jorge removed the bandage. He pronounced that the stitches appeared to be the dissolving kind. I will attach a photo of the finished product. The skin reminded me of the face of a Klingon from Star Trek. Wrinkled and dark. The line through the middle of the face of the Klingon are the stitches.

After removal of the bandage, Jorge spent a good deal of time massaging the area around the stitches. He advised the reason is that the skin wasn’t moving around. For comparison he said push/pull the skin on your other knee. It moves around freely. The left knee should be that way as well. But it isn’t. The skin doesn’t move around at all. When Jorge was massaging the skin, I could feel things like popping apart gently. I looked to see if the skin was popping up from the stiches. Jorge said this was the skin lifting off the bone, and the webbing between the bone and the interior of the skin so that the new skin will start moving around some. It felt a bit weird, but did not hurt at all.

Following the skin massaging, Jorge then had me move my legs half off the cot. He then pushed my calf of my leg toward my thigh. I was some worried about this because this maneuver had caused me great achiness since Monday’s therapy. Jorge pushed enough so that my calf nearly touched my thing. Pretty amazing! Especially since my leg didn’t ache at all doing this! Next it was my turn to do the same thing. I had to stretch my calf out as far as possible toward straight. After doing this 15 reps, I next had to stretch the leg straight out again and on return to 90 degrees, I was to pull the calf back in toward my thing again. Well, danged if the same severe ache didn’t return when I did it! Worse – the leg did not bend near as severe as when Jorge pushed it. I went ahead and did the exercise. Following the exercise I asked Jorge why I ached, and when he did it, I didn’t. Jorge said it was because I was tense because my mind wouldn’t accept I could bend the leg that far. Very cool.

Next it was back to the strap mentioned on Wednesday. To refresh the reader’s memory, I had to have an elastic strap around my leg, and it was then tied to a pole. I had to stretch the strap, then step back further. My exercise was to bend my knee slightly and after a five count, I was to straighten the leg out completely. The first time I did this today, I noticed my knee would lock when I pulled the knee back. This was a definite advancement as I could not do this on Wednesday. I did these 15 reps.

Next I went on the leg push. This is a weight lifting machine, with the only weight being the user’s body weight. The exercise is I lay on my back and placed me feet shoulder width apart and with the knees bent comfortably. I then pushed my body backward until my legs straightened. I was able to lock my legs again with this exercise. I was very happy about this development. When I shoot rifle in competition I lock my legs. It’s been long since I could lock my knees so I’m very happy with this development. It may be difficult for some to believe, but the difference in shooting for me is – knees don’t lock = rifle moves. Knees locked = no rifle movement. I’m hoping it’s the difference between not winning and winning matches.

Following this exercise I was back on the stationary bike, rocking again. Rocking, to explain, is the user is on the bike regularly. The pedals are turned one way till the user cannot turn anymore as the leg refuses to bend further. The pedal is spun backward this time until the leg no longer bends. Rock back and forth between forward and backward turns of the pedal for 5 minutes. I was almost able to go completely turn the pedal today but couldn’t quite get over the top apex of the curve.

Last thing was to get my knee iced down till time to go. I discussed the not sleeping with Jorge. He advised a hot shower just before bed, and then do a few exercises in the bed after the shower. This may get the blood running and maybe I wouldn’t wake up so much. If I continued to do this, I may wake up less and less.

My apology for no photos. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet when writing.

Knee Surgery – Day 7

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Day 7

Yay! It’s been a week since my partial knee replacement of my left knee. This is the 4th installment of my recovery from this surgery since the first one. I skipped Day 3, 4, 5 & 6. Those days had no further therapy in the week. I will refer to any improvements made during the week in this blog.

There have been a few more improvements that just seemed to take place. For example, last night, evening 6, I stepped off the down step out of my kitchen and forgot to take the first step with my left knee. Instead, I stepped down with my good leg, causing my injured knee to have to bend. It did, I continued, and only a few seconds later I realized there had been no pain in bending my knee. Another example – Day 5, I was emptying the dishwasher but had no place to put my crutches, so I put them elsewhere and walked back to the dishwasher, sans any crutch or device assistance – no pain. And again, I simply didn’t realize it for a few seconds. Day 5 – I was trying to put on my pants, (don’t want to give too much info here) but in doing so, I raised my left foot and pulled the pant leg on over it. The day before I had not been able to lift that foot at all. Day 5 – a few hours later, my wife had to assist me with my sox, but as soon as she got the sock over my left heel I was able to reach down and pull it the rest of the way up with no pain from the stretch. It is truly amazing what these exercises and therapy do to improve flexibility in such a short time. Day 6 – Went to my gun club membership meeting. Following the meeting while waiting for my wife to come get me, I walked, with crutches, about a quarter mile! I thought I would have immense pain after I got in the car from my knee stiffening up. Nope, no pain the entire way home. Very fine feeling.

There have been some instances of almost disaster: Day 3 – decided to use my crutches more. Took the first step with them and overbalanced to the rear. If my daughter had not been behind me it could’ve been a disastrous fall. One quickly learns not to go quicker with the feet than the brain knows about. Day 6 – following the meeting, I was discussing the surgery with several interested people around and attempted to get up out of my chair. I did it correctly, but didn’t have the leverage in my right arm. When I lost my leverage, and started back down, my chair slid out from under me. The folks around realized what was happening and saved me from a bad fall.

Day 7 – I spent last night in my bed again. Couldn’t sleep again. Just like the first day after surgery. Already explained about the heel of the foot causing the knee to be elevated in the wrong way. Last night, I simply wanted to stay there. Consequently, I stayed awake all but about 1 hour and did knee exercises the entire night. I expect that to show up in therapy and repair sometime soon. I’m still undecided whether bed or chair downstairs. The chair is, without question, the most comfortable for my knee. The stillness of the night, in bed beside my wife, is where I belong. Might just have to do night time exercises and sleep in the chair during daylight.
Today in daylight was good. Several limitations have been by passed. Some examples: I put on my own socks. Prior to today I could not get to my left foot because the knee wouldn’t bend or twist and leaning down further caused the leaning, twisting to happen. When I attempted to pull the sock on the right foot, the left foot would automatically begin to twist to compensate, and enough pain would happen to make me not want to put that sock on. Until today. Today I had to go to therapy. After my daily wash, these socks, which are compression socks to prevent blood clots, are very difficult to get on. I didn’t want to wait for my wife to help me as it seemed to me that my knee had been strengthened and felt limber. I tried it and I was able to reach the left foot, no problem and pulled the sock on. The right foot was even easier. Had’em both on in about 5 minutes.

Next thing, for my wash today I decided to try a shower. The problem with that before was I could not lift up left leg up high enough to clear the tub. Plus, I could not stand on my left leg with all my weight while putting my right leg in the tub. I was nervous about it today. One reason was my wife wasn’t there to grab me, help me, call the EMT, etc. if I actually did fall. Another reason, though less of a problem, was I was worried that if I got in, I wouldn’t be able to get out!! Imagine that. I take the shower, and can’t get out. 90 minutes later the wife comes home to take me to therapy and I’m still in the shower. I’d look like a prune. “What are you doing?” She’d say. “Taking a shower. Sometimes it just takes longer”. And then, of course, I Still wouldn’t be able to get out. All total an embarrassment even for husband/wife! Fortunately that didn’t happen at all.

I easily lifted my right foot into the tub, and tested the tub bottom making sure there was no slippage. My left foot came over just as easily. Being nervous made me take a quicker shower. I was out in about 5 minutes, usually takes a lot longer to enjoy the heat of the water. Extracting myself was a bit more exciting. I found my left leg would not clear the tub without bending the knee. I bent my knee and immediately stubbed my big toe into the tub creating some pain for the toe, and turning the air blue with some unkind words about tubs and toes. As I lowered my pained toe, I apparently experienced further dimwittedness and slid my toe down the corner of the sink cupboard nearly cutting my toe again. Old Baptist saying, ‘your sins will find you out’. I figured for sure that was just a payback from God for cursing a few minutes before, so I held my tongue this time and managed to get the rest of the way out of the tub without further incident.

I went to therapy. Two more exercises introduced but will only be done, for now, at therapy. (1) was walking with one crutch instead of my usual two. The left leg and the crutch on the right side go out at the same time, and then the right leg walks through them. The purpose of this is to let the left leg relearn to straighten fully when taking a step. The point being that the leg has to extend to straight to walk correctly. If the leg only goes to a long bend, I will walk with a limp. Don’t want that. (2) Using a short step and between a pair of parallel bars to hold on to, I was told to step up the step with my left leg and use my quads to pull me up, then step up with my right leg. Then step back down with my right leg first so my left leg would bend, then back down with my left leg. I did 40 repetitions because it simply felt good. The therapist advised me that I could practice this exercise at home but a standard house step is considerably higher than the exercise one so I would be surprised at the amount of muscle I would be required to use to hoist myself up with my left leg. I haven’t tried it yet at home.

The therapist advised me to shower when my wife is close by rather than when no one is there, just in case. Also, I was told I could sleep in bed with my heels hanging slightly over the edge of the bed, sleeping on my back, and with nothing under my knee. When my leg is straight quicker healing occurs.

So ended Day 7, with mentions of other days previously mentioned.

Knee Surgery – Day 1

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This is the second installment of my partial knee replacement to my left knee. I plan on continuing this until I believe I am 100% again. This may not take as long as some would believe as, prior to the surgery, there were numerous things I could not do that I expect to be able to do shortly following the surgery. Among these things were: deep knee squats, getting down on my knees without double foam padding under the knees, getting back up to standing, and locking the knees in standing position. I’ve discussed these movements with others that have had full knee replacement and they can all do these movements. I discussed them with Dr. Fricka, my knee surgeon. Dr. Fricka advised that I would be able to get down on my knees but I may not want to do that due to scar tissue which would make it uncomfortable but not impossible.

On the day following the surgery – I’ll call it Day 1 – the medications from the surgery wore off. PAIN!!! I had taken my new meds which included Colace, aspirin, pain meds and others, but my knee was VERY stiff and achy nonetheless. I could hardly move it anywhere. It was hard to straighten, and pretty much stayed slightly bent. I couldn’t put weight on it. My wife came up with a movable device to assist me in walking. My knee was swollen to near twice the size of my right knee. My knee was easily the size of a large cantaloupe! Moving the knee seemed to get it more swollen; furthermore, not moving my knee didn’t seem to make it go down in size any either. I lay in bed nearly all day until my therapy which was at 4:30. I had continuing ice packs on my knee. Didn’t seem to do a bit of good for the swelling or the pain.

I had therapy at 4:30. Here was a severe problem. I could hardly move. I couldn’t walk, with or without my movable device. I just kind of slid along with it and hoped I wouldn’t fall down. Next problem, it was COLD outside, probably around 25ish degrees, wind blowing. A fine day for someone with half a leg to be out in, trying to get to therapy. To complicate matters more, I wasn’t allowed to drive. I had to depend on someone else to drive. It’s hell to be helpless!

My daughter took me to therapy and me and my wife went in together. Due to the sox I had to wear to prevent blood clots, I could not wear long pants. I can’t tell any readers how ludicrous I looked to myself. I wouldn’t have been the slightest bit surprised if the therapists hadn’t just burst out laughing at my appearance. We left the house at about 4PM. Keep in mind the therapy location is only about 2 miles straight down I66 from my house. We got there very shortly. It took me well over 15 minutes to get my little self out of the SUV, to the pavement. When one is in extreme pain just to move the leg, twisting the knee, then the ankle, and moving around on the car seat just to get one foot out of the car, is nearly a screaming fest. Fortunately, I was able to keep my screeches to myself. From there, my wife helped me into two sets of heavy pull doors. They hadn’t seemed near this heavy when I came to see about appointments a couple weeks before. Both sets of doors had the handicap push buttons. They were too far to reach but my wife got one of them. The door I thought would open didn’t and the other door nearly knocked me down. Geez! It sure hadn’t seemed so difficult on the last visit. Maybe I should’ve come here beforehand and familiarized myself of the door operations, heaviness and how far things were from each other.

Finally! I got into the building. And it was warm inside!! Hallelujah! Hadn’t been warm for the last 15 minutes or so! I got into the therapy office. Very small. Seats were filled up with older and infirmed people…..suddenly I realized that could apply to me. That was really a disappointment by itself. But no problem, I didn’t have to wait very long and was called in within 5 minutes. I saw a man who seemed to be in charge of the program there. This was Jorge. We talked for a while. I realized as I was talking with him that I could hardly hold my eyes open! Thought for next time with this therapy business, take my heavy-duty medication after my appointment, not before!

While discussing my knee, Jorge was moving it around. Pain. Much pain..No matter which way or how much he moved it. Plus, I seemed to have no muscle tension. Jorge hung my leg over the side of the gurney I was on and told me to bring it up to level. I couldn’t move it, any. Nor could I move it back and forth, or slide it onto, or off the gurney. Jorge advised me that the swelling was normal and, in fact, was a good sign in that things were progressing as they should. I felt a bit better about that. I was truly worried that swelling was not a good sign. Jorge advised that one of the main exercises I was to do would be to straighten my leg completely. Jorge said if I couldn’t straighten it completely, I would walk with a limp. I determined that was not to be. I will not walk with a limp. There were other reasons to want a straight leg but for now this was the prime one.

After about a half hour discussion, Jorge released me back into the custody of my wife, saying to her, “I went easy on him today. Didn’t make him cry”. I thought, ‘well you weren’t too far with all that moving around though’. My daughter came back to pick me up. I exited the same dang two doors, this time, pushing was a lot easier as I could get my weight into the doors and they seemed to open easier. My daughter opened the door for me and nearly froze waiting for my pokey self to get to the truck. Getting in was the same pain as it was getting out. I never knew that moving other parts of my leg would hurt my knee so much when it never did that before. Live and learn to respect your pain. I rode on back to our house, and again wiggled on out of the truck and hobbled on into the house.

Getting out of and into a house with multiple steps, when one leg is in pain, is in itself an aggravation. Your loved ones are there to help, but they can’t. The steps are not wide enough for me and anyone else to stand beside me. I can’t use my movable device because it is also too wide to fit the steps with me on them. Therefore, it is up to me only to hobble up the steps. Here’s the drill: To exit, and go down steps – turn around and back down like you would on a ladder. My surgery was on my left knee. I cannot over-bend that knee, nor can I over-straighten it or I will be in near screaming pain. First step down is on the left foot, straight out, straight down to the next step from the top. Quickly move the right foot down to the same step as the left one is on. Yes, that means my weight is now all on my left foot of the knee I just had surgery on. If I do it quick, it isn’t a problem. Too quick, or too slow it IS a problem. I learn quickly what the correct speed is. Continue until you get to the bottom.

The maneuver to go up the steps is as follows: Step up to the first step from the bottom with the right foot. Step up from the bottom with the left foot. Again, yes, the weight is on the left foot for a few seconds till the right foot establishes the next step up. But again, speed and control is quickly learned if one gets tired of the pain. Continue with this maneuver until you’re at the top.

Since I was returning home from therapy, I did the ‘up-the-stair’ movement to the top of the porch. At that point, my movable device was handed up to me and I used it to balance while I unlocked the door, turned off the alarm, entered the house with my device sideways, and moved the dog out of my way. You never think of all these little maneuvers till you have to do them with half your body basically tied behind your back. When I’m inside, now time to decide where to sit so I can have blankets on, ice on the swelling and be able to get up to go eat, bathroom, where ever else I need to get to.

Now here’s a problem I’ve never had before, that I’ve had several times since surgery. How long do I let my bladder fill up before I get up to go? Usually one can wait for a long time before that quick run to the bathroom, but when one is hampered by having one leg that doesn’t want to do right, then maybe one ought to go as soon as possible after the first inkling. Otherwise, it could be painful to hold it while attempting to leap out of the chair/sofa/bed/etc. while maintaining some decor and not curse and scream about having to go and maybe not making it to the end of the trip! Yes, I always made it, but I’ve now gotten much better at feeling that first tingle of pre-knowledge, so to speak!

Other problems never having before: Sitting in a chair. I have a lounge chair I sit in during some of the day so I can lay back, relax, and/or do my exercises. First time I tried sitting down after surgery it was painful because when one sits down, the legs automatically bend to accommodate the lowering to be in the chair. I quickly found out that the best way for me was to straighten my left leg out as far as possible, lean over to the right, back my right foot up until I could lower myself almost to the chair seat, then quickly move my right foot out and under my left ankle to give it support. From there, I generally fell the rest of the way into the lounge chair. That worked with the sofa as well. The dining room chair was a bit more difficult as the table there so when stretching the left leg out, the danger of striking the table with the left leg was great. I only did that once before I found that the best way to deal with this was to back the chair out, slide the leg under the table, and sit down. Then scoot the chair back to the table, taking care not to bend the left leg much. After a couple tries, I got better at not bending the left leg too much.

At the end of the day, comes bedtime. The bed had special problems. My first two nights following surgery I couldn’t sleep in a bed. It was weird, but when lying down on the bed, my pain came from having my left heel forced down on the bed, which pushed my left leg up and bending it all the time, causing pain. No matter which way I turned, somehow my left leg was forced into bending while lying down. So I slept in my lounge chair the first two nights following surgery. Not much pain at all. Which meant I got to sleep.

And that was Day 1.

My Left Knee – Thru the Surgery

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This is a short story about the partial replacement of my left knee. I thought if someone were considering this type of surgery, they could read this and get an idea of how they would feel following surgery based on how I feel.

After having arthritic pain in my left knee for years, by September, 2012, it was evident that I had a lot of pain that was not going to go away, in both knees, not just the left one. In November I went to see Dr. Kevin Fricka of the Anderson Clinic Orthopedic Group. See their website at This group of orthopedic surgeons operates out of Anderson Clinic and Mt. Vernon Hospital. Anderson Clinic is located at 2400 Army Navy Dr. in Arlington, Virginia and Mt. Vernon Hospital is at 2501 Parkers Lane, Alexandria, Virginia. I chose Dr. Fricka specifically because he works with another doctor who specializes in anesthesia so the patient feels less pain following surgery. This is Dr. Nitin Goyal. I am one of those who really don’t like pain. No pain or less pain is far better than any pain, in my opinion. I had read about Dr. Goyal in one of the newsletters from the group.

I made an appointment to see Dr. Fricka and went to see him. Dr. Fricka is, I believe, a typical orthopedic surgeon. He is tall, about 6’5″; big, probably around 250 pounds, and muscular. I read once that orthopedic surgeons have to be muscular because they have to lift their patient’s dead weight limbs and hold them in place during surgery. Dr. Fricka examined my knees and advised that a full knee replacement would not be necessary on either knee. I did have arthritis in the left one, and wear in the right, but not to the extent of a complete replacement. Dr. Fricka explained the procedure to me along with the procedure of the anesthesia.

There would be a small amount of light anesthesia. After I was relaxed then there would be an insertion of anesthesia similar to an epidural in my back which would numb my lower extremities. The surgery would then take place. This epidural was of great upset to me. I was very worried about someone sticking a needle in my spine! How much pain would that be? I figured a lot and I was really upset about it. I discussed this with Dr. Fricka. He was adamant about this method of anesthesia prior to surgery. His reasoning was the epidural would numb my legs only and the insertion would also let the doctors quickly know about any respiratory or heart issues immediately. I figured I’d better look into this so I wouldn’t be full of anxiety pressures.

The surgery would only be done on the part of my knee that is painful. The knee was x-rayed for current wear & tear. Dr. Fricka pointed out the parts to me he would be doing surgery on and that these were the parts rubbing together without much, or in a couple places, any cartilage between the bones. Dr. Fricka said this part only would be ground down somewhat, and a piece of material replaced the ground down part. The other side would also be ground and another piece of material would be wedged into the bone. Dr. Fricka had an x-ray of a finished product and showed it to me. On seeing the x-ray, the work being done was obvious.

Dr. Fricka said the recovery was about half the time of a full knee replacement. This is due to the method used. In full knee replacements, tendons and ligaments have to be cut then repaired and this is what a lot of the healing is. The surgery was set for January 21, 2013 and I was to be at the hospital at 6:30AM to be the first patient at 8:30.

Within 30 days of the surgery I had to have a physical. Part of the physical was a heart EKG, and also a blood test to make sure I had enough clotting in my blood. 10 days prior to the surgery I had to stop taking any blood thinning medicine such as Ibuprofen and aspirin. Five days prior to the surgery I had to stop any other medication that was not life preventative.

I talked to several women I have great respect for on the epidural; my wife, daughter in law who just had a baby, and my doctor. My daughter in law advised me not to worry about it; I may not even feel the prick of the needle. My doctor commented it was a very short needle and I’d probably not remember it. My wife said it wasn’t anything to worry about. I thought if all of these people so close to me felt the same way, I could just put my bother aside until there was something worth being bothered about.

On January 21, I arrived at Mt. Vernon Hospital at a cold 6:15AM. My wife and daughter came along too, for driving me on the return and for personal assistance. I entered the Hospital at the Yellow, Out-Patient Unit. Upon entry I left my name at the front desk. Shortly thereafter I was escorted into the registration office and my complete ID and health insurance information was collected. Following that I was then escorted into a nurse’s office. My blood pressure and heart rate were collected and an IV needle was inserted into the back of my hand for future use. Next, the entering nurse and I went to my room for the surgery. The IV needle in my hand was now used to set the IV in my hand.

The anesthesiologist, a woman doctor, entered my little space and we discussed known allergies I have to certain medication. The anesthesiologist was then ready to go. I wasn’t. I had to go to the bathroom. Sometimes nerves just take over in the bladder area. I quickly eliminated the very minor amount of liquid and headed on back to my room. Upon entry I found my anesthesiologist in a cell phone conversation with the surgeon, apologizing to him that ‘he had to use the bathroom’, meaning me!

At about 0815 the anesthesiologist then inserted the relaxation stuff in my IV and within what felt like about 3 seconds I was relaxed! The anesthesiologist then inserted my epidural, and loosed whatever was in it, into me. For those that are waiting for how it felt, I can’t tell you. I literally cannot remember when the epidural was inserted, what it felt like, and what my legs felt like after that. I have forgotten all except the first relaxation stuff in my IV. Pretty amazing. The anesthesiologist did comment that I may have headaches and they would deal with that later. To date I’ve had no headaches.

Sometime later, I noted it was 1100 when I woke up. About a minute after that, I went back to sleep. Next time I woke up was about 1230 in the afternoon. My wife was invited into the cubicle. We talked a bit, and I got light headed. The nurses treated me and my wife left for a while. At about 2PM I awoke again. I stayed awake, but was still somewhat light headed until about 4ish. And then it was like a light clicked on then and I was fine. After a few more minutes of checking my blood pressure, I was released. I wasn’t in any pain at all. I guess those medications stay with you for long times.

This is what the photo of a partial knee surgery looks like. Click on the thumbnail to see an expanded photo.

xray of surgery

xray of surgery

This was the surgery. The next parts are of my knee recovery.

Another Christmas Story

Posted Posted by DetectiveEstes in Detective Estes' Corner     Comments No comments

I was 8 years old that Christmas. It looked like it was going to be no Christmas, at least for me. My Mom didn’t work outside the house and my Dad was sick. In bed sick. He hadn’t worked for nearly two months! There was no money in our house, let alone extra money for what I wanted for Christmas.

We rented a little bungalow in Colesville, Maryland. The lady that rented it to us was really nice. I called her Miss Elizabeth. Miss Elizabeth’s mother lived in the house with her. My 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Coleman, also rented from Miss Elizabeth. Our rent was $20 a month. We came there during the summer of 1957. My Dad was looking for another place to rent and saw this place and liked it right off.

The houses sat on a lot of about 3 acres I guess. There was Miss Elizabeth’s house, our house right next door and another house across a small yard from ours. Miss Elizabeth’s house was the largest of the three. Miss Elizabeth also ran a farm of about 50 acres. She had eight cows and milked them every day and every evening. She sold the milk every morning by setting the milk cans out on the road and someone would come pick them up. Sometimes I got to help milk the cows.

After living here for a little while, I decided I wanted a pellet pistol and a BB rifle for Christmas. I also wanted a pair of cap guns in twin holsters that I could tie down to my legs for fast draw work. On an off-thought I wanted a bicycle, but wasn’t too worried about that because I couldn’t ride much because the area was mostly grass. Mom and Dad both told me things weren’t going well that year. Dad was sick and for real, no money was coming in. Mom had no job and my grandparents on both sides only had money enough for their own families. Chances were Very good that there would be no Christmas this year. Indeed, I knew very well that no money was entering our house because we went hungry many dinners during that winter for lack of money. About once a week, we would all fast through the day. Too bad I wasn’t fat. That weight I lost would have been helpful if I had been. My mother lost about 10 pounds. My Dad somehow didn’t lose very much.

I wrote Santa a letter around the middle of December. I asked for a pellet pistol and BB rifle, and cap guns in twin holsters. It had just snowed starting that week so I didn’t ask for a bicycle because I thought Santa would wonder why I thought I needed a bicycle in the snow.

On Christmas Eve night, Dad was in bed and very sick. Mom and I made a few cookies out of what was left over from dinner. We put the cookies right next to the fireplace. We opened the fireplace doors and made sure the fire was out so Santa wouldn’t get burned coming down the chimney. Throughout the day there had been snow so there was about five inches down already. Dad & I talked about the snow and how Santa’s reindeer would really be flying fast tonight because snow made reindeer faster. Since Santa might be by sooner I thought I’d better go to bed soon.

Just before bed Mom and Dad talked to me about what I wanted. They pointed out that we were hardly going to have enough to eat for Christmas Day and that I shouldn’t look forward to much to getting a lot for Christmas. I almost cried. I knew we were really poor, but not That bad! Mom & I went to my bed and knelt down by my bed. I prayed that we would have enough to eat for Christmas and I prayed my Dad would feel better. Then I got into bed and went to sleep.

I slept really soundly in this house all the time. The area was dark, no lights on anywhere. On this night, it was so quiet I think I really could have heard a mouse walk through the house! The snow was gently falling and deadening all sound outside.

I woke up in the middle of the night with a loud thump right above me on the roof!! I lay in bed and listened hard for more sounds. I was positive it was Santa, or his reindeer! I didn’t hear any more sounds. After awhile, I got up and went into Mom & Dad’s bedroom and woke Dad up. “Dad, I just heard a big thump on the roof. Did you hear it?” Dad said no he had been asleep. Dad got up though, and went to the door and looked outside. By now there was nearly a foot of snow on the ground. Dad said there was nothing outside like anyone was walking. He walked me back to my bedroom. On the way we walked right past the living room. I peered in but nothing new was there. It was disappointing. I got back in bed. But who could sleep after that?

After a long time of lying in bed being awake I got up again. I snuck back to the living room, and once again I stuck my head inside the door. HOLY COW!!! Practically hanging on the tree was a shiny and bright pistol!! It looked exactly like what I’d asked for, for Christmas!!! And, standing up, right beside it was the coolest sled I had ever seen!! It was so long!! It was wood, with red metal runners. The name on it was ‘Flexible Flyer’.

I ran into my parent’s bedroom. “Mom, Dad, Santa came!! He left a pistol and a really neat sled!! Come see!” Mom groaned I thought. My Dad grinned at me and climbed on out of bed. He walked up to the fireplace and beckoned me over. Right outside of it were ashes in the shape of shoe prints. The cookies and milk were gone. Santa really had been at our house!

We all walked in to the living room. I ran over and picked up the pistol. It actually had been stuck on one of the tree branches. It was chrome and it reminded me of one of the guns Dad had except his were dark looking and this was bright and shiny. Dad showed me that it would shoot BB’s, pellets & even darts! He showed me that all I had to do was push the end of the barrel down, load it with one shot, shut the barrel and cock the gun. We went to the front door and shot it outside a few times. It made hardly any noise. My Dad told me I should shoot mostly BB’s in it because they were the least expensive, even though they wouldn’t be as accurate as pellets. There were only 5 darts with the gun. Dad said I shouldn’t shoot these unless I intended to shoot a bird or something like that with it because the darts were very expensive.

From the pistol, I went over to the sled. Dad said, “Flexible Flyer sleds are the best and the fastest. We’ll wax these runners and this thing will almost fly over the ground!” I could hardly wait to try it out!! “Soon as we can walk down to the road, we’ll take a ride on it” Dad said. “I’ll bet we can go almost to the end of the road on it. It’ll be a long walk back.” I knew I had to ride this sled soon!

My Dad found my brand new cap guns under the tree. “Looky here” he said. He picked up the holster set. The guns were chrome plated sixguns with long barrels. The holsters were just what I asked for. Brown leather belt with two drop down fast draw holsters, tooled in white, with tie down leather thongs to hold them in place for horseback riding and fast draws. “Try them on,” Dad said, I put the belt and holsters on. They fit perfectly. And the guns fit the holsters like they were made for each other. “Tie them down.” Dad said. I used the leather thongs and tied the holsters in place on my thighs. Even still in my pajamas, I knew I was going to have wonderful times with these guns. I tried a few fast draws with them. They were perfect – the guns were quick to get to, super-fast out of the holsters and straight out in front of me. Lightning fast. I knew that with practice I could get as fast as the Lone Ranger, my very favorite TV lawman.

“Dad,” I said, “Do you think that thump I heard earlier could have been Santa on the roof?” Dad said “I don’t know; why don’t we go take a look?” Mom looked a little worried, “you’re both still in your pajamas and its very cold outside. You better change before you go outside in that cold.” Dad said he would hold me up out of the snow. We walked to the back door. Dad opened the door, picked me up, stuck his feet in some moccasins and out we went. There was about a foot of snow on the ground. I didn’t think about it then, but Dad’s feet must have been freezing!

I looked up at the roof. “Dad!! Dad!,” I whispered to him, “Look at the roof, there’s footprints up there and sleigh marks!! Santa really was here, Dad!!” My Dad looked up, then he looked down at me. I knew he was as surprised as I was. “How on earth did they get up there? They do look like sleigh runners!”

We went back inside. Dad went up to Mom and said, “You should go out there, it looks like somebody was on the roof last night. It looks like sleigh runners and a bunch of tiny feet marks.” Mom didn’t believe Dad and she didn’t go outside so she didn’t see the marks. At all. I thought maybe she didn’t really believe Dad.

But I believed him. Because I was there. And I saw all those little hoof marks, lots of them. I saw them just like my Dad did.

A lot of folks might poo-poo this, but they weren’t there. They didn’t see those tiny hoof marks in the snow on the roof of our house. And they didn’t see the marks of the sleigh either. That’s why, even to this day, more than 50 years later, I STILL believe in Santa Claus….And I always will.

First Foot Beat

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First Foot Beat
When I was a new police officer my parents gave me a copy of Joseph Wambaugh’s book, “The Blue Knight”. I loved it. It was a can’t-put-it-down book. For those who haven’t read it, the story is of a cop walking a foot beat in Los Angeles, California during the times of race riots and the youth movement, basically the time-frame of the 60s – 70s. From that moment on I wanted to be a foot patrol officer. In 1975, the police department I worked for made that happen and I became one of a few officers who walked foot beats.
My first foot beat was about a mile square. Naturally, since I’ve never been a runner that meant that everything was too far away for me to get to if an incident was in progress. If I was to get into any action I would either have to walk up on it, or make the action happen myself. The area I was assigned was heavy in garden style apartments. Most of those were inhabited by what seemed to be nice, older, retired ladies. At the time I was 25, in the prime of life, and single. Not a great time to be in the middle of a bunch of retired old women….at least in my mind.
I tried to walk the entire beat at least once a day and usually made it since there weren’t too many reasons to stop; at least until all these ladies found out there was a young uniform officer walking by every day that appeared, to them at least, to be way too thin. After that; every day I would walk past these apartments and at least one, and usually up to three of these ladies would be bringing out a pie, or a cake, or inviting me in for a glass of milk and cake, or coffee and cake, or pie. And they were all so delicious. How in the world could I say no? So I didn’t. In 8 months I gained over 50 pounds! But what a wonderful way of gaining.
Nearly every evening following my shift, I would return to the police station with some kind of refreshment. It got so the entire motor squad and foot patrol would take time out from their busy schedule of getting off to see what Roger brought in tonight. We all gained weight.
One day I walked up on a woman crossing guard who was in clear physical distress. She was in uniform and sweating badly. She was going into shock for reasons not known to me. I talked to her for a little while and called an ambulance for her. I was pretty shy then, even though I’d been a police officer for over two years. Being shy, I didn’t do much talking to her, or touching her to make her feel any better about an ambulance coming. When the ambulance arrived, they asked me what I had done for her. I told them and I was surprised by the contempt on the driver’s face. He said, “So you’ve been standing around here being a JAFO and doing nothing for someone who could have died right in front you, huh?” It was way later in my career that I found out that JAFO stood for ‘Just Another F- – King Observer’. This was exactly what I had been. I was very disappointed in my actions that day. From then on, my actions in general were more professional, to overcome that shyness.
Shortly after this incident, I discovered that writing parking tickets on foot patrol made the day go by faster and there was also a fine chance of some action when the car owner came running out to dispute the ticket. The apartments in one part of my beat had very little private parking, so the spaces were placed on both sides of the street. This left only one narrow lane of travel in each direction.
The parking spaces were made so the driver had to front-end park. This wasn’t difficult if the driver simply pulled into the space as he or she were already driving on the correct side of the street. However, due to the high volume of cars, there were frequent traffic jams of people that needed to back out when they left. And they were backing into traffic that they couldn’t see for the other parked cars around. To alleviate that many drivers would back their cars into the spaces so they could quickly leave the space. Uh-oh….violation. Can’t back into a front-in only parking space. Parking ticket time. This is where I came in. And this is where the action came in as well. There is something about parking tickets that makes most folk’s blood boil. Normal people who on any other day on earth want to stay away from the police, will, when they see they are getting a parking ticket, come running out of where-ever they are, even if it’s in mid-shower, to dispute that ticket! Sometimes it is even to the point of actual combat with the officer!
At that time this ticket was ten dollars. Violators were evident to all concerned that an illegally parked car really was parked backed in, and not fronted in to the space. One day I wrote about 20 tickets at one time. I guess every one of the owners was home at the time. They all seemed to come out en masse. Most of them shouting, some cursing, some obviously wanting to do battle. As they got closer I realized this could be very painful for me if they all decided to take me on at one time. Being young and full of vinegar and looking for action, I decided not to call for backup just then. If I’d been a little older I might’ve rethought that decision.
When the largest screamer got right up to me, he made the error of screaming that he was going to beat me down. I clipped him on the top of the muscle over his collarbone with my nightstick. That was good enough for him. He fell down on the ground and did his screaming from there. That stopped the rest of the pack in their tracks. It’s one thing to be willing to take part in a fight where other folks do the actual beating but when the biggest guy gets knocked down people suddenly realize they could be next and no one really wants to be next. So all the rest just stopped and there was absolute silence.
I didn’t know what to do now. There were 20 people standing around in various attitudes of nastiness, all directed at me, and one person on the ground that should be handcuffed and arrested but I didn’t want to turn my back on the rest to do that. Just then, more screaming from behind the first mob of 20. I looked and here were 8 of my retired lady friends running out of their own apartments hollering at the first group. They were angry at the screamers because they thought they were going to hurt me! They were coming to give their boy some help!
I suddenly realized the dispatcher was calling me, “Roger!! Are you all right?” I answered, calm sounding I hoped, “Yes, kind of. I’ve got some angry people around me. Could I have a couple units please?” The dispatcher continued, “We’ve had 15 calls for assistance for you in the last few minutes! “ All of my lady friends had called and said I was fighting with this group and they were afraid I was getting hurt.
The next thing I knew police cars and police officers were all over the place! This is what happens in police departments when an officer needs assistance. Everybody drops whatever they’re doing and comes on the run. Nothing is more important than an officer in trouble or in danger of getting injured. Well, it must’ve been evident to the officers that the problem was not with the retired ladies but with all these people standing around looking mean, mostly in my direction. The officers walked toward the group and advised them that if they wanted to dispute the parking tickets they could come to court. But now, they needed to disperse or they could come to court the following day by way of the jail which was going to be their next stop. The group started to disperse amidst a lot of annoyed mumbling
I handcuffed my man and arrested him. The patrol wagon was on scene so my arrestee was searched and packed into the truck. After that, I turned around, and walked up to each of my lady friends, gave each one a big hug and my sincere thanks for calling my pals out. Then I left to go make my charges. And that was that day.
One day I walked into a 7-11 store to use the bathroom. I was pretty desperate. I called the dispatcher from the store phone and advised him I’d be out of service for awhile as this need was strong by now. The dispatcher agreed not to call me. Of course, since I was on foot, calling me was of little value unless the call was next door. And be damned if the call wasn’t RIGHT NEXT DOOR!! Some man had entered the cleaners, naturally while I was indisposed, and created a disturbance. Throwing stuff around, making threats to the clerks inside who were all recent refugees from Vietnam and who were terrified. This guy was just generally being a first-classed jackass.
The dispatcher called me and had me go to another channel. He apologized to me for calling and gave me the call which really was right next door. I thanked him for destroying my concentration, got up, stuck my radio into the commode, keyed the mike and flushed. He understood perfectly.
I walked over to the cleaners. The guy was outside by now, standing in front mumbling to himself. I walked up on him, and right past him and into the cleaners. Now, if the clerks were terrified of the jackass, they were simply beside themselves with fear when the law walked in the front door! They were from a police state and figured that though America was better; the police were probably someone to bribe, or pay protection to or at least to be very afraid of. So no one spoke, or wanted to speak English. Once this no-speak-English issue is established, not much rapport can be gained on short time frames. I made sure that no one was obviously injured and walked back out to the mumbler.
I was not happy. This man had made short work of what I had hoped would be a sit-down, relaxing time for a little while. But because of him, I still had to go and I was uncomfortable because of it. Something had to be done. I called for the wagon. My intent was to provoke this guy into taking a swing at me so I could arrest him and feel better for it. This was not to be. The wagon pulled into the lot and the jackass took one look; his eyes rolled up in his head and he fell down on the sidewalk, out cold. Now I was really not happy!! This was not good.
I bent down and hollered directly into his ear, “Hey Bud!! Get the hell up!!” No response. That holler would’ve woke up the dead. But not this guy. Not even a peep. Not even an eyelash flicker. The wagon man got out and walked up and toed the guy. Nothing. The wagon officer suggested we might want to consider an ambulance. By now I was in a true snit. There was not going to be an ambulance there. I got out my tear gas, put a little on my finger and ran it along his upper lip. That’s usually good for those faking illnesses or drunks. Jumps’em up like jack-in-the-boxes. This fellow opened his eyes, looked at me and started to cry. No jumping, no jack in the box jerkiness, just open the eyes, and cry.
He told me he’d just gotten back from Vietnam after his 3rd tour of duty and he had no place to go. His parents lived in a senior citizens home and he found when he got back the week before that somehow they had both passed away and he had not been notified by the military of their deaths. He’d had a girlfriend when he left, but had received a Dear John letter a month or so before. He had no one in his life to turn to. He had no place to stay and had been living aimlessly on the street since he heard about his parents. He and I were the same age.
Now I’m just like most other cops. We have high opinions of soldiers and what they have to go through, especially ones in war zones. I guess its maybe because we’re in war zones ourselves. So we can relate. Anyway, he & I hit it off. I took him over to the Village Grill Restaurant across the street. It was a topless joint, one of two in town at the time. I asked the waitresses to look after him until I got off in another couple hours and I’d be back after him. Then I could find a place for him to stay. When I left, he looked like he was in 7th heaven. I mean, who could ask for much more than that? A single guy being looked after by a bunch of beautiful nearly naked women. He was well taken care of.
When I got off work, I went back to the Grill and we talked some more and got more acquainted. He really didn’t have a place to stay. He thought he was coming back to see his parents and now he had none. He was stationed in another state. Well, we had a few drinks together, and talked long into the night. In fact, we closed the Grill down. I let him stay in my place that night. We’ve been friends ever since.
After about 8 months of this beat, another foot patrol area opened up and I transferred over to it. It was in a different part of the County. It had lots more action as most of the beat was not in the best part of town. I went around to all my lady friends and told them about my pending transfer. They were sad. I was not. Nice folks, but not much to do. I was pretty sure the next place would be a better beat.

Interviewing – Using Emotions Properly

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I last wrote about police interviewing in June, 2011. I think another short article is due. I teach a 1-day interview class to police officers in the Northern Virginia region. The name of the class is “The 30-Minute Interview”. The class is targeted toward uniform police officers so they can learn to obtain truthful information in very short time frames. I hope to continue to teach it to all police officers in the Northern Virginia area. It’s a good course, easy to teach, and easy to learn. I’ve had numerous officers contact me to say they used the techniques taught to them in this course, or to say they heard someone talking one day and knew it for a lie. They just wanted to notify me to thank me for teaching them this course.

I was in uniform for 17 years before becoming a detective. I know the aggravations that uniform police have. I believe that modern officers hired since about 1995 have been trained to keep their emotions in check and they are much better at it than when I was hired. This is admirable and is very useful in interviewing. An interviewer who allows emotions (anger being the main one) to get in front of the interview has lost the interview at that point, whether the point is in the beginning or mid-interview. Good interviewers only show emotion at points when emotion of some kind is needed to foment the conversation.

Uniform police have to place their emotions deep inside during many calls. Calls for domestics where members of families have torn each other apart physically, such as Andrea Yates who drowned her five children then called 911 and asked for help. Imagine the thoughts of the uniform police officer who entered that house and saw 5 little bodies, side by side, on the bed, all dead. Surely not many would have felt the slightest amount of ill will toward the officer if he had simply killed Yates at that moment of extreme emotion….except that the officer didn’t. Instead Yates was arrested, and convicted of murder in 2002.

What does a uniform officer feel when responding to a robbery in progress where shots are being fired? Does the officer remember training scenarios? Or does the officer consider that the next 5 minutes may decide whether he/she goes home tonight, or dies right here. From experience, I can say that emotion of worrying about dying is placed inside and training for the incident takes over till long beyond the incident.

What does a uniform officer think about when walking up on a serious accident and seeing copious amounts of blood from multiple victims or seeing a little body that has been thrown from one of the cars with not a sign of trauma to it, but no pulse, and not breathing? One officer who was first on scene of an accident involving a school bus in which a child was decapitated told me he went into kind of an active trance, working completely automatically making sure the other children were safe, off the bus, and not knowing about the little dead child. The officer investigated the entire accident in this trance-like state, photographing, measuring, interviewing all who saw anything, completing all forms and notifying all parents till he was completely done with all of the accident. The Officer said he came out of this ‘trance’ when he got back home and saw his own children safe and sound.

What did all the police officers and fire fighters do on September 11, 2001 when both World Trade Centers were demolished as well as the Pentagon, and later at Shanksville, Pennsylvania during the investigation of Flight 93? I know several officers who were at the Pentagon as well as participated in the clean-up of the crime scene at the Pentagon. This included the collection of body parts of the victims. To a person, all of these officers tucked their emotions in a place inside of their selves until much later when there was a time and a place to have emotional responses. Some of the officers dealt with their emotions by never speaking of the incident. I know one officer who observed the plane crash into the Pentagon while he was standing on the closest roadway outside of the location. The officer placed his emotions of this incident inside and has never spoken of the crash.

The above incidents are commonplace for many uniform police officers daily, especially those who work in urban areas or high crime areas. Uniform officers learn quickly to place their emotions away or they find that they simply cannot handle these high stress incidents without losing their cool and reacting inappropriately to the situation.

Officers should do the same thing with their emotions during interviews of criminal suspects, as they do in other incidents. I think one reason that emotions come out, during the primary investigations of crimes, is due to the cowardice of the suspect in the case. Denial by suspects of the commission of the crime is infuriating for police officers. Most criminals project a tough guy persona, but yet, when apprehended for a crime, these same tough guys try to whine and lie their way out of their culpability. This is a complete role reversal for a tough guy. The correct role for these tough guys would be to own up to their deeds and simply accept the outcome. When the police are confronted by someone who indicates their machismo to obtain respect from police, and then lie about their involvement in crime, officers become angry. It’s like the criminals are being dishonorable to their own selves. In short, the criminals are hypocrites!

Some may say officers should expect this from criminals and should not take lies so emotionally. I say officers should take lies in stride and instead of being emotional right at the moment of the lie; they should wait until the end of the interview after they obtain a confession to the crime so they can celebrate. An officer, who can withhold emotion during high stress incidents, can be taught to with-hold emotion until another time during an interview.

The point of all this is to obtain truthful statements from those involved in a crime, no matter what that person’s relationship to the crime is. No matter who is talking, (victim, witnesses, suspects, whoever else), the police need to be able to determine when lies are being told and know what to do about lies so they obtain truthful statements. Emotions should be shown when necessary.

What kind of emotions am I talking about here? Mostly compassion to the target of the interview. If a victim or suspect, compassion to their predicament as well as friendliness. I have found that compassion and friendliness goes further to obtaining truthful statements than any other emotion. A smile, a touch, a handshake, can do wonders for developing a quick rapport. Compassion maintains that rapport.

Compassion works so well because the interviewee assumes the police are in agreement with them. This is true especially with a suspect. If the police have developed a rapport with the smile/handshake, then seemingly agrees with the criminals reasoning for the crime, or motive for the commission of the crime, the police are seen as understanding. This gives a LOT of information from criminal suspects! A lot of information frequently includes an incriminating statement from a criminal suspect.

This is using emotions properly in interviewing criminals.

Whether victim or suspect, the compassion has to be seemingly real. There can be no smart aleck tone from the officer, no nasty type smiles that implies something other than what the smile is really supposed to mean. No edge to the voice when trying to develop rapport with these people. There can’t be any implication of any hidden meaning to words being used either.

This effective use of emotion doesn’t come without practice. Everyone knows that they are sarcastic or smart aleck at times, or if they use a double entendre as a rule, or if they have other methods of speaking that only their friends will put up with. If you are like this, or do other things that you know others around you haven’t particularly enjoyed, then you need to know right now that all of those ways of speaking are useless in a police interview. If you are the kind of person that immediately reacts to other people’s words with some kind of emotion, or movement, you should put a stop to that before entering into a police interview. If you are the kind of person that reacts badly to insults – if you feel the need to yell at someone that is yelling at you, or react by getting in someone’s face when they raise their voice to you, or strike someone if they anger you, then you need to put a real damper on that kind of emotion in a police interview.

A police interview is one of trust between the officer & the target of the interview, (the person being interviewed by the police). That trust cannot be built on anything that appears to be false emotions. If the Officer/Detective can use his emotions properly, then the target will believe in that kindness and compassion shown and give a truthful statement.

The next article on interviewing will discuss how the police can work on replacing anger with the proper emotions for interviewing.

TV & Gun Noises

Posted Posted by DetectiveEstes in Detective Estes' Corner, Uncategorized     Comments No comments

I like to watch some cop shows on TV. My favorites are SVU:Criminal Intent, The Mentalist and NCIS. These shows are all simply fun to watch – like a good book is fun to read. I think Criminal Intent & the Mentalist have interesting star characters and intelligent plots. NCIS’ characters interact with each other very well and the action seems to go along with the plot. Another plus for NCIS is there is no gratuitous sex or violence. NCIS is produced by the same folks as produced the TV show, Magnum PI, my favorite cop show of all.
My wife likes all of the CSI shows, so for home peace, these are required watches. In viewing any of the CSI shows, I have found these shows to be a comedy of how not to be the real police. We also watch Castle, another show which is opposite of how the real police operate, thank goodness.
About a month or so ago, I began noticing extra sounds of gun mechanisms in many of the shows, either just before a shooting engagement, or just before the police are getting ready to do something serious outside of their headquarters.
I began paying closer attention and soon figured out what these gun sounds were. They were the sounds of a hammer being drawn back to full cock!!
Now,not everybody is a handgun aficionado but I am. I’ve been shooting handguns since I was four years old when I first shot my Dad’s Smith & Wesson Combat Masterpiece police revolver. I played with a genuine Civil War handgun, growing up. When I was hired as a police officer I continued to study handguns as both a police officer and later, a police firearms instructor. I know a lot about handguns, their mechanisms, noises they make and how they work. In a nutshell, the only noise any handgun ever made was early model single action revolvers and modern clones of those. In those guns the noise was made by pulling the hammer back which turned the cylinder of the revolver and cocking the hammer to fire. The noise was caused by pulling the hammer past the trigger sear, and then past the half-cock and on to full-cock so the gun could be fired. These movements caused 3 separate clicking noises which might be heard by someone other than the user; provided they were close enough. These were the noises I was hearing on the cop shows.
All these TV shows I mentioned use Auto loading pistols. I think this is to keep up with the appearance of nearly all police departments in the U.S. which also use pistols. These pistols all make ejection & chambering noises but that noise is overwhelmed when the gun is fired. As an aside, this ejection/chambering noise is the main problem of attempting to completely silence auto loading firearms.
Back to the sounds: I began to pay attention to these gun sounds. Shortly I noticed that in the TV show, Castle, the detectives would get ready to go someplace important, or to a possible gun fight and all that were going would take their pistols out of their holsters and rack a round into the chamber. Two problems here are: (1) this would indicate that the police walk around with empty guns the rest of the time when they aren’t on known dangerous outings. (2) When do they unload? Nothing was ever shown about the detectives removing the magazine and then racking the slide to eject that loaded round so they could return to the police station. So when did that happen? It all appeared very fake to me. It turned the show into a comedy.
But here was another problem, where was the hammer noise coming from?
When watching CSI, I started noticing these mechanical noise sounds. I immediately knew the sound to be the cocking of a hammer on a single action revolver, but it seemed to accompany the removal of the detective’s Glock pistol (an auto-loading, hammerless pistol) from its holster. Naturally, I began looking for where the noise was originating from, since all Glocks are hammerless. I guess a few fans must have written to CBS and informed them of these new phenomena of the non-existent hammers. So about a week ago I was watching one of the CSI shows, and this noise came up when a detective reached to the rear of the slide of his Glock, and LO! There was a hammer growing in the back of the Glock!! Yet, as soon as the gun was thrust forward to firing position the hammer disappeared! For sure, only in Hollywood could a hammerless pistol grow a hammer, and have the hammer disappear when the gun is prepared to fire!
Watchers of these comedies should keep their eyes open for further miraculous firearm developments.

Crime & Motive

Posted Posted by DetectiveEstes in Detective Estes' Corner     Comments No comments

This article will discuss motive for crime in general.
In every media piece on any reported crime, the media immediately announces the police have no motive for the crime. So let me give one right now. Power. Here’s another: Immediate gratification. And one more: Contempt for the law. In a criminal’s mind the thought is – ‘I want it and I’m going to get it, no matter what the law is. Because I want it.’ Simple.
Notice the above has nothing to do with the victim. The victim has little to do with most crime. Criminals don’t think of victims as anything but a ‘thing’ to do.
During the mid-1980’s the speech by law enforcement then was motive & opportunity = crime. That can be shortened a now. Motive = crime. Opportunity is in the mind of the perpetrator.
In the 1980’s, crime was very bad. There was lots of crime. Perpetrators were going to jail for less and less time. Law enforcement was doing its job. The courts and subsequent court jobs (probation & parole) weren’t doing theirs. An example was, in Virginia if someone were sentenced to prison for 25 years, he/she may not be actually inside the jail but for 3 years! The 25 years would immediately be lowered by prisons by either 50% or 25% depending on how many times the suspect had been previously arrested. If the defendant managed to be sentenced then to serve 5 years or less, then he was incarcerated in a local jail. This meant that time was then halved so he may get out in 2 1/2 years after a sentence of 25 years! Small wonder then, that the recidivist rate was a national average of 97%. Truly a travesty to the victim. So victims were advised by law enforcement to try to do what they could do to not be victims. Except of course, hardly any potential victim was allowed to have a concealed weapon permit. Citizens had to prove a need to the chief of police or sheriff, to carry a weapon. Hardly any permits were passed.
Fast forward to the mid-90’s. The New York City Police Department and the Mayor, Giuliani, devised plans to clean up the city of its terrible crime. During this time, crime dropped over 50%. This plan used essentially two methods: 1) no crime, no matter how small, was allowed to happen without police enforcement. (2) Individual precinct supervisors were held responsible by the Chief of Police for the amount of crime in that area.
The next crime fighting trend that happened was that a number of conservatives were elected to governor and the state’s legislature for many states. Nearly all of these conservative governors and legislatures did two major things to severely decrease crime: 1) criminal defendants now had to serve 85% of their sentence for every felony. (2) the priviledge to carry a gun became a right.
Crime went down severely in every state that these two things happened in. In Virginia, Governor George Allen, in 1994 enacted the right to carry law as well as the 85% law. In one year, crime dropped by 50%! As other states enacted both these types of laws crime fell drastically. Amazing. These states didn’t become miniature Dodge City’s as predicted by the mainstream news media, but crime did fell to an all time low. The crime continued to lower as criminals languished in jail and died out, or simply got too old to do crime.
In the new millenium, however, crime began to rise again due to the influence of gangs. Now into the second decade of the 2000s, we see a rise in gang crime, crimes by illegal aliens, and ever more drug crimes. This is mainly due to the severe influx of illegal aliens entering the United States from Mexico and staying here. Without a stop-in customs checkpoint there is no way to stop the flow of illegal subjects entering the country, and therefore no way to know who is coming here, bad or good.
A very bad thing about criminal illegal aliens entering the country is there are no fingerprints taken of them to positively identify them. Immigrants entering the country with the intent to stay and become United States citizens have their fingerprints taken and identifying entries into a computer. This identifies these subjects if something bad happens to them. It’s also a positive ID for marriage purposes, and all sorts of other legal documents. It also identifies suspect who leave fingerprints at crime scenes immediately.
However, one good thing about most foreign criminals is they do not know the technology of the police in the U.S. Most foreign criminals see no benefit at all to covering their hands unless the weather is cold. Leaving fingerprints, or DNA, or taking obviously identifiable items or pawning these same items which immediately identifies them is a concept they haven’t considered in the past. Many never realize it throughout their crime career! Plus, after a few minutes of denial, and the slow realization that nobody is going to get tortured in a police interview, most foreign criminals will confess their deed to the police.
Sometimes I wonder if some motives for crime is so they can see their name on the news. In the murder of Cayle Anthony, and the subsequent trial of Casey Anthony, the little girl’s mother, the trial was the only news for a total of 31 days. During that time, no other news was published in both the mainstream media as well as cable media. Evidently President Obama’s doings were not more important than this trial as his name was not mentioned. He even went on TV a couple times and though the speech was shown, the coverage returned immediately to the trial or the review of the day. I believe if Iran had hit Israel with a nuclear strike the world may not have known about it if it depended on the 6 o’clock news. This is a powerful draw for those with such tremendous need for self gratification.
Power is the only motive criminals ever need. Many criminals talk about the ultimate power of watching someone die in front of them and how that is a draw for them to experience again and again. This power extends to every crime, no matter how small or large it is. This power is sexual as well. Many criminals cannot have sex normally but have no problems in sex type crimes or in masturbation during the commission of other crimes such as burglary.
When training recruits in the primary investigation of burglary crimes, I would advise them to look under bed covers, in underwear drawers, and other places where photos of women were, in search of semen, or defecation. Most people don’t think of defecation as possibly sexual, but defecating in a stranger’s house when the criminal knows the owner will find it first, is a definite power-trip.
In conclusion, those who read this remember that criminal’s motives are for one main reason: Power over the victim. So the next time some news media reporter says the police don’t have a motive for the crime….you remember that the police ALWAYS know the motive, and that motive is power.

About Detective Estes

Detective EstesMr. Estes has lived in the DC Metropolitan area for most of his life. His father’s influence and expertise in firearms resulted in Mr. Estes beginning to rifle shoot at a young age and eventually shooting on the Washington-Lee High School rifle team in Arlington, VA.

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