I am not a ‘happy camper’. My jolly fat lady persona has been replaced by that of a cranky woman in pain, who is quite discouraged and is feeling sorry for herself.
I have hurt my right knee. I don’t know how it happened or why it happened; I only know that it happened and I am not happy that it did.
My knee had been bothering me for some time. It complained when I walked too much or when I climbed up or went down the stairs; it ached at night when I tried to sleep and in the morning when I first got out of bed. It wanted to be rubbed and heated and cooled and wrapped in an elastic support bandage.
I listened to it; I rubbed it and applied cold packs and heating pads and faithfully wrapped it in an elastic bandage. I treated it with respect, but it was not enough. This past week my knee upped the ante.
Tuesday morning when I got out of bed I discovered that I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. That was new. My son brought me a pair of crutches we had stored downstairs and off we went to the local emergency department. Seven hours later I was back home, armed with anti-inflammatory pills and a note for physiotherapy once I felt up to it. I was also told to return to the hospital if my knee wasn’t better in a week or so.
Thursday morning I was optimistic; I could now put some weight on my leg. I had an appointment in a nearby city that afternoon and because my son could drive me there, drop me off and pick me back up at the door, I left the crutches behind and opted for a cane to give me the support I needed.
The appointment went well but lasted much longer than I thought it would, and it was six o’clock by the time it ended. One of the office employees was leaving at the same time so we walked together to the elevator—or to put it more accurately, she walked and I limped.
We were waiting for the elevator to arrive when I heard a loud ‘popping/tearing’ sound in my knee, accompanied by excruciating pain. I immediately burst into heavy-duty tears that scared the poor employee and launched her into a frantic search for help.
Less than thirty minutes later my son had me at the emergency department of one of the city hospitals and there we spent another six hours. It was after one in the morning when we finally pulled into my garage, and, doped up on narcotics and with my son supporting me, I hobbled into the house.
The doctor in emergency told me that I needed to see an orthopaedic surgeon and that she would contact one to make an appointment for me. She said I needed to keep my leg strapped and elevated until I see the surgeon, and she said that I needed to see the surgeon within a week.
I’ve been waiting for three days, waiting to hear from her and from the surgeon’s office. I have been patient.
This morning the doctor from emergency called and told me I would see a surgeon on Tuesday—but not this coming Tues—the next one! That will be almost two weeks from the time I went to her hospital, almost two weeks since I’ve had my right leg strapped and wrapped and elevated. Two weeks on crutches waiting for…what, surgery and then more wrapping and bandages and more weeks on crutches? As I stated earlier, I am not a happy camper, unless the definition of a happy camper is someone who is frustrated and discouraged and feels impotent.
So I lie in bed. My right leg is strapped from ankle to thigh and it itches underneath the bandage. I have been using a backscratcher to reach the itches that I can reach, and am trying desperately to ignore the ones that I can’t. I have discovered that itches are difficult to ignore.
I have my leg elevated so that it is above my hips, but I am certain that this makes my itches itch more because my skin gets warm, swaddled as it is in padding and bandages and resting on a pillow. So far I am able to resist the urge to tear the bandages off and scrub at my leg with course sandpaper, but my character is weak and I don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
I have crutches beside the bed and have to depend on them for support when I make the short trip to my bathroom. Getting on and off the toilet is an adventure all on its own, but I do not long for adventure. If I did I would choose bungee-jumping or parachuting, not toilet-seat-sitting-and-rising. I do not see this particular sport gaining a following anytime soon.
I AM fortunate to be equipped with life’s bare necessities: I have my laptop to keep me plugged into the world around me and my iPod to keep up with the online games I play with friends. I have a basket of books I’ve been itching (darn how that word keeps popping into my head) to read and movies I’ve been meaning to watch when I have the time. Apparently I now have the time.
On the bed I have an unopened bag of plain chips, a half empty bag of cookies and an almost empty box of chocolate crunchy candies. By tonight I expect to have a half empty bag of chips, an almost empty bag of cookies and an order in for a new bag of chocolate crunchy candies.
On my nightstand sits a variety of pills—there are little yellow anti-inflammatory ones, medium brown over-the-counter pain ones and big white kick-pain-in-the-butt prescription ones. I’ll let you guess which colour I like the best.
I’m trying to be philosophical about this, but it is difficult. I know there are many others much worse off than me; I know I am fortunate to have access to medical care and have insurance coverage for the pills and physiotherapy I will need. I know I have family and friends that are willing to help me until I’m back on my feet again, and I know that this is not a life or death situation and I should be grateful about that. But I refer again to my first paragraph….this jolly fat lady is not jolly today.
Check with me tomorrow. Maybe my mood will improve. Maybe my knee will stop paining, and maybe I’ll get a phone call saying the surgeon had a cancellation and will see me this week.
In the meantime, I think it’s time for chips and cookies and chocolate crunchy candies. And a movie.