Sunday, February 21, 2010

Precautionary measures

It's a statement to how much I want to go to the meet-up in TN. It shows how much my friends mean to me, and what I'm willing to endure for them. It's...It's...THE DREADED KNEE BRACE!

Years ago, I did something to my knee and required a knee brace for a few weeks. I'm not even sure what I did all those years ago; it wasn't that serious. But I held onto the brace for other incidents, and it made it with me to KS. Now that I know what's going on in my knee, I felt it time to immobilize said knee to prevent further damage. And just how does a guy who sits around all day further damage an injured knee? Well, I applied a similar question to the initial injury. How the heck did I tear my meniscus to start with?!?

The most viable answer would be what friends have called "the Chicken Dance." It's my habit of standing up and kicking my feet backwards toward my butt to put my kneecaps where they belong. I've been doing this for YEARS and have never had a problem before. Alas, I think this is one of those times when age has caught up to me, and my left knee couldn't handle even that menial task.

So that's one thing the brace will prevent me from doing.

The other is sitting like an idiot. That is, I'm rather fidgety while sitting, and one of the positions I invariably end up in is with my left foot tucked under my right thigh. Just after word of the injury came in, i was still doing that...and discovered that getting into the aforementioned position wasn't a problem. Staying in it and getting out of it was. The ache while my leg was bent was annoying, to say the least. Straightening the THAT was painful, along with the bone-shaking pop-n-grind of my tibia (or patella) returning to it's proper position.

I'm honestly not sure I'm helping things at all at this point, but I don't believe I can be doing any harm. The damage, as far as I know, has been done. Cartilage is some tough stuff. You don't tear it easily. Heck, I don't think it was torn when I was hit by a car when I was 18.

Oh...did I not tell you folks about that one? Well, that's easily remedied.

I was 18 and working at the Leow's Theater in Levittown, NY. I was at least a two mile bike ride home from work, and through a variety of stupid acts, I didn't have my driver's license yet. (Really...What parent takes their kid for a road test with an unregistered vehicle? (My biological mother.)) While I hadn't closed the theater, it had been a late night, so I was cycling home when I'd reached the intersection of Old Jerusalem Rd. and Wantagh Ave. (If you look at a map, you can see that the former moves through onto Gregg Ct., but almost no one pays attention to that fact; hence, it is viewed as more of a T intersection. I was traveling south on Wantagh Ave., and "Mary" was in a car traveling north. Mary, however, decided to make a left onto Old Jerusalem Rd.

back then, when I was on a bike, I was usually taking in everything with my eyes. I would pull some stupid stunts during daylight hours, but at night, my eyes were everywhere. So I saw Mary at the light, signaling, and I thought she saw me, with my bike reflectors all being in place and whatnot. If fact, I'm sure we were both aware of that little law that says "pedestrians have the right of way," so I thought it was okay to continue through the intersection.

I was wrong. Mary did NOT see me, and made her turn just as I was entering the intersection.

This could have been a very messy accident, with the front of her car mowing over me, breaking many, many parts of my insides. But I was young, fit, and on the bounce. (Cookie for the reference. =P) When I saw her car moving, I started to turn with it to avoid the deadlier front end. Instead, I collided with the side of her car, rolling onto the hood.

The immediate results, from what I could see, was a bent front tire on my bicycle. While I straightened it, Mary jotted down her insurance information, and then we went our separate ways.

Yes, I biked the rest of the way home after getting hit by a car.

My father came home shortly after I did and asked me how my evening was.

Me: Oh, not bad. Got hit by a car on the way home from work, but not bad.
Dad: Are you kidding?!?
Me: Nope. Here...Look.

I showed him my lower left leg, which looked as though someone had opened my skin, inserted a golf ball, and then sealed me up as neat as can be. He wanted to take me to an ER right away, but I guess I was still feeling the adrenaline of the accident. I told him it didn't bother me that much and promptly went to bed.

Come the next day, I was singing a different tune. Something in my lower leg hurt, and walking on it was difficult. But by the time we knew something was wrong, it was no longer considered an emergency...not by insurance, anyway. So I went to an orthopedic specialist, who took x-rays and saw I had a hairline fracture on my fibula - the smaller bone in the lower leg. It would not require a cast, just crutch walking for a few weeks.

I would love to say that that was the extent of my injuries, but my knee slowly became an issue over the next few years. I eventually had two arthroscopies on it. The first revealed nothing, which seemed odd to me, as the second involved the removal of what was called "free floating matter" as well as a lateral release. (By age 20, a tendon off to the side had become so tight that it was pulling my kneecap out of joint every time I bent my leg. The tendon had to be cut loose.)

This is why I can say that I'd prefer an arthroscopy. I've had one twice before, (three if you include my right shoulder), and I know the recovery is relatively quick. If I can convince the doc to do it in March, I'll recover through April and be able to make my travel plans in May for the end of June.

Oh, but wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to deal with such drama at all?

Meanwhile, I'll be a "brace-wearing fool" in an effort to see myself in Johnson City, spending a long weekend with some of the greatest people on the planet Earth. =)

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