Before last night, I had not really appreciated the wonder that is the articulated joint in the middle of my leg. Knees were things to be skinned, with ligaments that were occasionally stretched and needed physical therapy, but in general, I never thought about them.
Not today, though.
Remember when I wrote last night that my ribs were in pain but it was not worth going to the ER over? Well, maybe the ribs were not, but the knee ended up being so.
After my fall, the knee stung, like when you have a bad scrape. I could walk (the ankle was giving me more trouble), so I thought everything was okay. I went home, laid in bed for a while with my leg up, then went in the living room to watch NetFlix.
After a while, I looked down at my (increasingly painful) knee. It was swollen to roughly double its twin, and when I tried to straighten it out all the way, I couldn’t. I couldn’t put weight on it either, and my toes were beginning to go a bit numb.
The Not So Little Drummer Boy ended up driving me to the ER, after suggesting that maybe I should just ice it and wait and see what it was like in the morning. I, on the other hand, figured that if I couldn’t walk, then maybe a doctor would need to look at it right away. Not to mention, my ribs were starting to feel like someone was sticking an ice pick in my side when I moved the wrong way.
So we went to the ER. As far as Stanford ER visits go, it wasn’t too bad — one of the advantages of hurting yourself on a Sunday evening. Far fewer bar fights, shootings, and accidents, and most people who get sick figure they can wait it out until Monday to see their doctor. I was one of only a couple of people in the main waiting room, and they probably got me back into a bed within a half-hour.
The visit itself took a while, if for no other reason than they kept changing what parts of me they wanted to x-ray. They did the knee, of course, and then the ribs, and then to be sure, the ankle. I had no problem with them doing any of that, except that I ended up going to Radiology three times, rather than the once which would have happened had the doctors got their act together. (The reason for x-raying the ribs, which is usually not done because a) it’s often hard to tell if there really is a fracture and b) the way you treat most rib fractures is simply pain management, was that the sort of pain I was having made them worried that there might be a fractured rib sticking into a lung. That would not have been good. Fortunately, that was not the case.)
Also, they decided not to give me pain meds until after the x-rays were done. I had had a combination of ibuprofen and Klonopin when I first got home, which helped a lot. (I find Klonopin to be helpful in keeping muscles relaxed, even though it is not an analgesic per se.) By the time I had been in the ER for a while, those had worn off. I have a relatively high pain tolerance, and I hate making demands on people, so I meekly waited (whimpering occasionally) until they finally gave me Norco (like Vicodin) and sent me home. They gave me a prescription, so now I am at home on opiate painkillers, feeling not much pain at all. Except when I walk and try to put too much weight on the knee.
The knee was not broken. On the other hand, it was still swollen, and painful, and there was water on the knee. The ER doctors told me that what I really needed to do was see an orthopedist.
They also placed my knee in a splint. I can’t bend it, which makes even simple things like standing up from a chair difficult. Because my knee is out straight, using crutches is not really possible. (I also have an ankle boot for when I need to walk much.) Dressing is insanely hard. Going to the bathroom… well, I’ll leave that to your imagination. It is one of the few times I’ve ever wished I could urinate standing up, like a man.
I am supposed to keep this on until I see the orthopedist. I can take it off for showers (although even in the shower I am supposed to keep the knee as straight as possible). My orthopedic appointment is on the 18th, so in effect this means two weeks.
I am sure that I won’t need the painkillers except for the next few days. But I am not sure that I can drive: it is my left leg, but I would still need to bend it in order to sit close enough to the steering wheel to control the car. (Getting in and out of the van last night looked vaguely like something out of a silent film comedy. I felt really stupid.)
This is my fourth bad fall this year, and it’s starting to worry me a little bit. The doctors, when they heard that I had fallen twice in two days, asked if my house was safe. I then had to admit that I had fallen in two entirely different places, neither of which was my home.
And the opiates mean that I cannot really do anything requiring heavy mental lifting for the next couple of days, so work is probably not a good idea. (A man on the phone once asked if I was drunk, based on the fact that it was the end of a shift and my voice was gravelly and I probably sounded a little punchy. I can only imagine what I would sound like on Norco.) Job searching is out, but I should probably check in with my job counselor tomorrow to let her know what is going on. (I have decided that I want to see if I can’t find a less stressful temp job to carry me over until next campaign season.) And the new contract assignment I had gotten involving assessing preschoolers as part of a UC Berkeley study on the efficacy of various teacher training methods is probably not going to happen, as I would need to be able to sit in the small chairs to talk to the kids, and that might be impossible. (On the other hand, maybe I could just sit on the floor.)
I am still going to try and write, at least some, so that I can try and keep up with my 50K for the month of November goal. (I am currently at 3,782, which is 2885 short of where I should be to be on track, which given that I was 3800 short yesterday means that I have caught up almost 1,000 words shy of where I should be.) It just might not be very good.
And I keep telling myself that I will never take my knees for grated again.