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Joint Operation

knee deathFunny story.

Three weeks ago I got out of my car and I heard my left knee make a tiny 'click' sound. I have knees seemingly constructed of old cigar butts and chewing gum so I can sprain the joint if the wind happens to blow in the wrong direction. As such, I regarded this as just another desperate cry for attention.

Whatever it was this time put a definite hitch in my get-along and I ended up limping on it for about a week, expecting it to heal as it always has before. Then the knee swelled up to the size of a casaba melon. I staggered around the house in this condition for another week, completely unable to bend my leg, before finally giving in and calling the doctor.

A quick, semi-fascinating digression: There's a nerve in the leg that causes it to straighten sharply if the knee is struck by something like a doctor's reflex hammer. I learned the hard, painful way that there's also a nerve in the leg that causes the knee to bend, equally rapidly, and the swelling in my leg irritated it. So here I am, barely able to totter around the house, with a knee so full of fluid that I cannot bend it, and that damned nerve would go off at random intervals. Once, in fact, when I was sitting in a drafting chair. With little warning my knee suddenly folded up, launching me across the room into the bookcase. I lay on the floor for a long time, alternately crying from the pain and laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Digression over.

My GP was puzzled by my symptoms so he gave me some diuretics for the swelling and some antibiotics, just in case, then referred me to a specialist. Five days later the swelling had mostly dissipated and I was able to slowly walk unaided into the orthopedist's office. He took about a zillion x-rays then proceeded to knead, prod, and jostle my knee mercilessly for several minutes before finally giving me his prognosis.

"There is nothing wrong with your knee."

In case you're wondering, yes, I trust him as he's an older man who's obviously seen a knee or two. The only thing he could suggest was that a tiny piece of calcified cartilage broke loose (thus the 'click') and irritated the joint.

In case you're counting, that was three weeks trapped in my house only to be told it was nothing. I wallowed in a lot of self-pity during that period but I came out of it with a deeper understanding of the travails suffered daily by those slowed by age or injury, or those who cannot walk at all. In my mind, we could use more handicapped parking spots. A lot more.


end rant

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