About those knees….
About a month ago, Cody and I decided that we would start adding a little bit of jogging to our daily walk. We had started clicker training and I thought that Cody’s focus would improve if he burnt off a little more energy. Days into our walk/jog intervals, my knees started to ache a bit. I did the responsible thing and said that I would take a few days off from our routine.
Sadly, during this downtime I had to chase after Cody one day. That chase put the nail in my knee coffin so to speak. That was a Saturday.
By Monday, I could barely walk down our porch steps. I carefully maneuvered around work trying not to exhibit any pain, but by the end of they day the office manager (who has mother eyes like nobody’s business) said, “Are you limping?”
“Who me? Just a little. I’m fine. Just fine. Overdid it a little, that’s all.”
My family will tell you that if I complain about a health issue, then it is serious and likely has been going on for some time. I’m not one to whine about my ailments because I’d rather take them in stride and I wasn’t about to gripe about my knees… especially since this was self-inflicted.
“Are you sure you are fine?”
“Fine. Really, I’m fine.”
By the next day, my coworkers could barely stand to watch me walk. I had become a ninety year old woman in a matter of days. I couldn’t bend either of my knees but I still insisted on carrying a forty pound dog. I waved off a coworker, “Just get the kennel door for me. I’m fine.” No reason for me to be needy when a little grunt work would surely put me right!
Then came Wednesday and a jolly sixty pound dog slammed itself into my knees unexpectedly. I almost cried and I’m a firm believer that you should never, ever cry in public. I finally broke down and called the doctor’s office. They promptly fitted me in that afternoon. A coworker insisted that I should go home directly after that doctor’s appointment but I told her I was definitely coming back to work. I wasn’t going to miss work over this despite the fact I couldn’t squat, kneel, or walk faster than 0.005 miles an hour.
Before I tell you about the doctor’s appointment, I want to tell you a few things about veterinary medicine. If an owner came in and said, “My dog’s having a lot of trouble walking”, someone would go out to the car and carry that dog inside and to the exam room so the pet wouldn’t have to do that on their own. Once in the exam room, a doctor would thoroughly evaluate all four limbs and not just the ones in question. They would place the pet on the floor and watch the pet’s motions. How they stand, how they walk, how they sit or lie down, all in an attempt to search down clues of what was wrong. If x-rays are needed, we’d carry the animal back to the treatment area for a weight and then to radiology so the patient only had to endure the discomfort of being carried to the back once. The dog would also receive lots of petting and cookies.
Back to my doctor’s visit, there I was hobbling through the front doors and to the check-in counter. I signed in and then took ten minutes to walk across the room and sit down. Once settled, I opened a book and started reading. It wasn’t long after getting seated that I heard, “Melanie Moore” being called at the window. I nearly crawled back to the receptionist booth. When I finally got there, the receptionist had noticed I had a credit on my account so I didn’t actually owe a copay. I slowly inched back to my seat and started reading again.
Some time had passed before the nurse called me back. As I limped towards her she said, “is it your left knee?”
“Left is worse, but they are both not happy.”
We stopped at the weigh-in station, but there was a line. The nurse directed me to the exam room and asked me to get up on the bed. After several minutes of failed attempts, I finally made it. “Can you use that pain chart to rate your pain?”
“I hate the pain chart.” I do. How am I supposed to judge my current pain against all the pain in the world? Yes, what I’m feeling is pretty darn horrible, but someone somewhere just got shot I’m sure. How much pain are they in? There’s a motorist somewhere who just had a limb ripped off in a car accident. How do they feel right now? “The pain is preventing me from sleeping. Where is that on the pain chart?”
“I can’t pick that for you. You have to pick that.”
“Would six be considered bad enough to keep you up? I really think this chart should have some references for the number system.”
The nurse and I debated for several minutes and I think I finally picked six. She took my vitals and then said, “Let’s get you on that scale.”
I slithered off the bed, walked back out to the hall and down to the scale, getting slower along the way. Once I was weighed in, I staggered back to the exam room and delicately scaled the bed again. I cracked my book open again and waited for the doctor.
When the doctor arrived, I gave all the details leading up to my current condition. The doctor busily typed away at the computer, entering all the info. Then, both of my legs were flexed and extended once. I reported that it really hurt. The verdict: I may have sprained both of my knees.
“Since 800 mg of ibuprofen four times a day isn’t helping, I think we should try you on steroids. I’m going to put you on a prescription, but I don’t want you to start it until tomorrow. I can have the nurse give you an injection to get you some relief tonight. How does that sound?”
“I’m willing to try whatever you think is best.” To me, I understood that I was to receive a steroid injection. That’s what sounded like to me. They were jump starting me on the ‘roids. I asked the doctor several times what the injection was called, unfortunately for me, the doctor was seated on my left side… my deaf side. I wasn’t too worried though. Surely, the injection would be printed on my receipt that invoiced all of the day’s procedures. I could look it up when I got home.
The doctor shook my hand, told me to have a nice day and then exited the exam room without seeing how I walked, how horrible it was for me to shimmy up the bed, how much work it took me to sit in a regular chair without hurting myself. No pets on the head and no damn cookies either.
The nurse showed back up to inform me the injection she had to administer was too much to give in one arm. “I can either split it up and give it in both your arms or I can give it in your buttocks.”
“Does anyone say it stings more in either place?”
“If I give it in your buttocks, I’m going to have to use a really long needle.”
This sentence told me she had already evaluated the size of my ass and decided due to its gangrenous size, she would have to use the longest needle they had available.
“You know what, I’m already having enough trouble sitting, let’s split it up between the two arms.”
She returned minutes later with another nurse. “Did you bring someone to hold me down?”
They laughed. She really did bring someone to hold me down. I’m not a bad patient and besides I can barely walk let alone assault anyone! She starts the first injection in my left arm. “The doctor told you that you’d need to stay for twenty minutes after your injections, right?”
“You have to stay here so we can monitor you for a reaction.”
“Fantastic.” Dammit, I needed to get back to work. It all made sense now. The second nurse was going to watch me for twenty minutes to make sure I didn’t croak from the ‘roids.
As she started the second injection, she dropped another information bomb on me. “Some people say that this makes your arms stiff for a while after you get them.”
FAN-FUCKIN-TASTIC. Not only am I not able to bend at the knees, now I won’t be able to bend at the arms. I’m going to look like a damn zombie.
Once she was done shooting me up, she told me she’d be back to check on me and then they BOTH left me behind the closed exam room door. Now, not to go all veterinary staff on them again … but if we give a patient a medication that can cause a reaction that critter will be either parked in a kennel in the treatment area where it can be observed or placed up front with the receptionist so they can watch it. Someone always has their eyes on the patient. There I was, sitting on that damn bed all alone.
I started reading my book again, until I had to use it to fan myself. I had become so hot that I was profusely sweating. “Woo. The air circulation is horrible in these rooms.” I continued to fan myself until I realized that I was getting dizzy. This created a great dilemma. If I was about to pass out, I was a hundred percent certain that I would fall off the bed and onto my face now that my arms were getting stiff and I wouldn’t be able to catch myself. (Thanks injection!) I would lay there with my busted face on the floor, unable to move my arms or legs until someone came to check on me.
Dizzy, sweaty, hot and starting to feel a bit confused, I carefully descended from the bed and sat in a chair. Once seated there, it felt like someone had turned on the AC. I was freezing and now my soaked scrub top was clinging to my clammy skin.
The nurse popped her head in, “How are you feeling?”
“Um, I got really hot and sweaty, then a bit dizzy. I thought it best to move over here. Now I’m freezing.”
“Okay, I’ll check back in on you in a few minutes.”
I tried to read my book, but I just couldn’t concentrate. The only thing I could focus on was getting checked out and finding out what drug was listed on my receipt. I never wanted to get this steroid injection again!
At the fifteen minute mark, the nurse came in, felt my arms and said I could go ahead and go early since I wasn’t having any swelling. I checked out, collected my invoice and moved at slug-like speeds to the parking lot. Once in the car, I unfolded the details of my transaction to discover the injection was not listed. I’d never know for sure what the hell they gave me.
Now, at the time I blamed the following episode on days of painful knees, a frustrating (non)exam and not knowing what I had been shot up with. I suddenly broke into a sobbing hysteria. This wasn’t a quiet little tearing up, I was audibly wailing. I tried to get myself together, but couldn’t by any stretch of the imagination get a grip on reality.
I grabbed my cell phone and started texting the coworker who suggested that I go home and rest after my doctor’s appointment. I told her that if the offer was still on, I thought it was best that I did go home. As soon as I hit send, there was banging at my driver’s window. I jumped and looked up at a man who yelled, “Are you leaving? I really want this parking spot!”
I continued bawling, put my car in reverse and left the parking lot. (I may have ran through the ditch to get to the road, that part is still questionable.) At home, I grabbed a box of Kleenexs and turned on the television. Surely some relaxing TV would make me right!
I watched Dr. Phil. I never watch Dr. Phil. I hate Dr. Phil as much as I hate the pain chart. But there I was watching Dr. Phil. When the beau got home, I’d been crying for thirty minutes about poor Melissa who suffers from OCD and can’t stand that her sister is pretty than she is.
All I could say was, “Why can’t she see how beautiful she is! She’s so beautiful!”
After some sobering up and some googling injections that sounded like what I thought I heard on the deaf side, I think they may have given me Demerol. Why they thought a cripple who drove herself needed to be given narcotics is beyond me. The Demerol did provide some relief, but by bedtime it had worn off and I was back to sleeping like crap.
A month later, I can finally squat again and kneel very carefully. I still have to be careful about carrying heavy things. I can walk now with the slightest bit of limp and I can move quickly with only a little bit of regret later. After seeing a specialist ( a lovely man with a lovely staff who was kind and thorough), it’s thought that my flabby thighs were the true culprit. (Go ahead, laugh.) Seems that my quadriceps aren’t strong enough to hold my kneecaps in place and jogging put too much strain on all my ligaments and tendons that desperately tried to keep those boogers in place.
He suggested that I live out my days and never run again. He was very polite to explain that some of us just aren’t built for that activity. If I wanted to move briskly down that path again, he recommended some serious training and toning first. I think I’m going to take his advice though and travel down these roads at a delightful walking pace.