Stiff Unbowed Knee

A year ago January, I damaged my left knee quite badly at a physical theatre workshop.  I was jumping over something, and I landed funny; the bottom half of my leg went right and the top half, not getting the memo, went left, and I felt a scary rubber-banding sensation and a scary “POP” and I fell on my scared ass.

At the time, one of the workshop leaders knelt down beside me, my face flushing and my eyes filling with tears, and said something incredibly wise:  “I totally respect whatever you’re feeling right now, but I think you may be feeling more fear than pain.”  Instantly (and I mean instantly) the pain in my knee went away and I was able to calm down.

I got some advice for strengthening exercises, and I finished the workshop, getting far more out of it than I’d been able to prior to the injury.  Although I blame the lack of ice, medicine, hot water, or doctors for the fact that it took a solid 9 months for my knee to be back to normal, back to normal it was.

Or so I thought.

What a twist!

Last night in rehearsal, I choreographed a fun little fight scene for two of the company.  One performer had to leave early, so I stood in for her, doing the stage combat in her stead.

At one point, I apparently got a little enthusiastic with the foot stomp, and I jumped with both feet, landing on my left in preparation for stomping with the right.  But the stomp was not to be, ’cause as I landed, a white-hot flash of pain shot up and out my head as my knee popped and buckled out from under me.

Despite my insecurity and embarrassment, I do feel the need to point out that there’s nothing wrong with the choreography… I just landed on my trick knee.

I spent about half an hour in that “Am I going to throw up?  No.  Ye– no.  Mayb– no.  No, I don’t thi– ohmygodItotally– no, no I’m good” place while my body pumped endorphins and adrenaline and… I dunno… battery acid or whatever… through my veins, trying to figure out how to deal with the shock.  I kinda wonder if maybe your brain does a little “Out to Lunch” thing when this happens,

I’m’a be over here.

’cause it seems to me that the lights were a little dimmer around the edges of my vision for most of that 30 minutes… very much like the sensation just prior to blacking out.

I think my right wrist might’ve contributed to this a bit, as it was bruised and sore.  I must’ve caught myself on it.

However, this time, the director (a career dancer in addition to her many, many other talents) shouted “Get her some ice!” the moment I went down, so I was icing it within about 45 seconds of the injury.  I also popped two naproxen sodium tablets pretty much immediately and drank a bunch of water, which probably didn’t do much for the nausea, but it made me feel like I was doing something to help out my body.

As if it deserves any help. The jerk.

It’s still very painful:  a dull ache when I’m resting, if I find the right position, and a sharper pain when I try to straighten it, bend it past about 120 degrees, rest it on something, or generally move it in any way.

I decided to take the pain as a good sign.  The last time, there was almost no pain, even when it collapsed post-injury; no pain, but it would just buckle randomly without any apparent provocation.  Last time, I felt the tendons pull away, and it felt for a long time as though they’d just never quite tightened back into place.  This time, it felt more like compression, and although it hurts to put weight on it, it doesn’t feel as fragile.

So, I went to the doctor today (Are you keeping track of the changes in the level of care from the last injury?  There will be a test.), and although she requested an X-ray to rule out serious fluid build-up or something, it seemed like mostly good news:

Doctor:  (straightening my leg)

Me:  (wincing)  Ow.

Her:  (bending my knee toward my body)

Me:  (wincing)  Yeah.  Ow.

Her:  (twisting my calf and thigh in different directions)

Me:  (nothing)

Her:  Well, that’s good.  It’s not your ACL.

Me:  Yay!

Her:  You’re right, whereas the last time it was very loose, this time it seems tight and stiff.  It doesn’t seem like there’s any tearing of the tendons or ligaments.  I don’t even think you’ve torn the cartilage.  My guess would be that you compressed some of the cartilage when you landed and it’s inflamed now.

So, she gave me a prescription anti-inflammatory and sent me on my way with instructions to keep icing it at night and wear the knee brace religiously.

I went and got the X-rays, which were quite unpleasant, as I was supposed to have my knee straight for most of them,

The camera loves you!

and then I went to get my prescription.  While I was there, I bought a cane, ’cause while I CAN bear weight on that leg, it’s painful and very slow going, and the doctor said I should be resting it, not exercising it for now.

I look ridiculous.


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