No pie again, alas -- but a fresh slice nonetheless!

A bit over one month ago, my ortho doc replaced my right knee joint with a cyber one. Other remedies, including months of therapy, were tried without much success. The last, pre-surgical effort: injection of hyaluronic acid from rooster comb, to lubricate mechanics. Life-roughened surfaces wouldn’t move freely. 



This is a zerk. Used in countless applications, the device permits oil to be supplied into gears, etc. Its inventor, Oscar U. Zerk, brought his idea to the world around 1929. Zerks are essential oil-delivery components in many industries.

Before I draw connection between the paragraphs above, I must take yet another direction that occurred to me, while recovering from the knee procedure.

On a dusty dirt road in the Ozarks, decades ago, the vehicle my husband and I were driving broke down. Somehow, based on clues sent from the engine’s sound, Thom had an idea about the cause. He crawled under the front end with tools in hand, and soon said he thought he’d tracked down the issue. 

“It’s a zerk,” he reported. 

I’d never heard the word, and said so. He kept working on something-or-other while I watched out for cars heading our way. Soon he added another fact.

“Think I feel a burr along the line, probably that’s the problem. “ 

I pondered, then my wordsmith/ logophile nature kicked in.  “You’re saying there’s a burr…”


“…a burr on the zerk?”

“Yeah, looks like.”

“Our van is—berserk?” I grinned.

Don’t you love words? The hot day, insects rising along with dirt below our feet, the inconvenience of a breakdown—all disappeared, the moment that preposterous synchronicity fell into place. 

Feel free to chase down other less-fun applications of the word, crazies who took to violence to express themselves, etc. – I’d settled on “berserk” as an inside joke about one hot Missouri summer afternoon, until my knee wonked out. It went—berserk. The meniscus tore, connective bone bruised, and a fall last summer worsened pre-existing damage. The parts weren’t cushioned properly, and sent searing pain messages until it was fixed—replaced.

Now, waves of pain from reconnecting muscles, tendons and tissues are somewhat ameliorated with prescribed med’s and ice packs. Today I drove for the first time in six weeks, hurrah; exiting the car requires that I lead cane-first, followed by feet and the rest. 

Still, I’m happy Spring is here, hope to walk smoothly again soon, even make some progress with veggie gardening. And I’m happy to be one day closer to a pain-free “normal” again! 

Thanks to everyone who has helped me along this journey.


Christopher Simon