This was just supposed to be a commentary on my Instagram shot, but it got too long, so figured why not make a post of it.
Over the past week, the knee’s been swollen every few days and with that every step gets painful. The last 2 days have been extremely difficult to do my usual daily activities, this despite doing therapy religiously and have made progress on various fronts with how much Ive worked the knee into coming back to its formal self. The snow of last week pushed the appointment to today, and the doctor listened to my account of bizarre swelling, nodded and declared “it’s fluid retention, not uncommon after surgery and such conditions, so let’s drain it and am sure it ail give you relief and get you on PT again.” I nod. My ortho knows best.
The assistant comes in and lays all the needles, bottles, and gloves and we make small talk on genes and snow. I see that fat syringe, the size of my palm and my eyes go round. I take a picture for posterity, if not for anything, would make a good instagram shot. I look at the doctor and blurt out ‘I am scared, that syringe is huge!” he laughs and asks me to relax, this isn’t bad at all, if it is, I’d tell you.
The cold comes first, and then the prick to numb the inside. It hurt. I try to breathe deep and not scream and I count numbers. He makes small talk – about snow, about his office manager being an overzealous fabulous employee and so on. We wait for the medicine to take effect. I stare at the poster on the wall next to me and read about the various tears and ponder on why mine wasn’t illustrated, the bunions and why the metatarsals occasionally protrude and an ugly bunion forms and wonder if mine would turn that way one day, on the bones and the beautiful structure of the human body. He talks about more snow and how it s the great leveler and how perspectives are based on where you live and grow up. How his travel plans fell through and hope that folks in Atlanta will at leafs know to stay put if not anything else next week.
I nod along, and simultaneously process the pain settling in and numbing my knee as I keep up with the conversation. He now smoothly inserts the big fat syringe (I can’t see, as am laying flat, but I can tell) and he is paying close attention to the knee.
No small talk, but silence.
I watch the posters again. Feeling his fingers as they knead my knee and the liquid into succumbing to his touch and direction of where it should go. He almost half mutters to himself in a thoughtful way, “This is why medicine is fascinating.Ive done 100s of this kind of procedures and pretty much most go in the same angle and the fluid is there, waiting to be drained. Except now, where I have to change it just a bit, just like I did to the one I did yesterday. It’s the same knee, same anatomy, and you expect it to be where it is supposed to be, but it isn’t. That’s the amazing part, medicine and how challenging it is, to keep you on your toes.”
..and I nod, I smile and I choke.
“I know, medicine is fascinating.” I say simply and stop. then I grin and say “Maybe it’s coz am special?” He grins back, looks up toward me, and says, Yes, we all are!”
I close my eyes and relax my leg. I know there is more, and am not down yet. each go into their own heads.
He deftly doing what he is trained to do, loving the place where he is.
I see the vision, removed from myself, on how my fingers knead an eye, pulling back the skin, peering into a cavern, dark and at once orange, finding thin wisps of blood vessels, curving, meandering ints way on the retina, rushing towards the fovea. A lump forms in my throat. I swallow hard.
I imagine the white coat, the steth, the rush of making a diagnosis, the pleasure of holding someone’s hand as they squeal in joy, the complete agony of watching a tumor unfold in the eyes of a child, the precise painful ways of plotting a visual field and then to know that it was confirmed down to the nearest degree by other tests.
I’d have made a darn good doctor. It was a tragedy. It remains a tragedy, both to the world and to me, and to my father. I am squarely to blame for not becoming one and I tried, maybe I didn’t try enough. A tear is forming, and am swallowing, I hate this place and I need to get out..
“All done dear!”
He holds up the syringe and i gasp. “It’s red!”. He nods, and says, “okay, so we are good to go, rest it for the next couple of days, ice it, Aleve 2/twice a day, and I’ll see you in 4 weeks. Keep the PT going. I know you will”
I take a picture, text it to my family, if anything just to gross folks out (Some humor must be salvaged out of this I convince myself) and slowly move towards the door, gingerly and very aware of how sore but yet nimble I felt.
Son replies “How fascinating!” and I grin back, “glad I could entertain”
I drive home in crazy traffic, make some dinner, pull leftovers out, have a fruit and am not tucked in bed , icing the area.
It seems like a slow process. My patience is wearing thin, but am amazed Ive handled this with as much patience as I could muster. A year ago, I’d have been bringing heaven and hell together.
I will get better. Polar vortex, snow, dance, field trips, white coats and fluid buildup and more, come what may, I will be okay.
I will build myself back to strength and I will bike and I will be okay.