The Knee Chronicles: The Day the Earth Stood Still On One Leg, Part 3.
I am stuck a half block from my house. I am unable to stand, or walk. I can’t even bend my knee to get into a taxi because of the intense pain in my left knee.
And a voice is screaming in my head:
“If you weren’t such a fat cow this wouldn’t be happening!”
I am about ten feet from the entrance to the corner store and so I bite the bullet and limp-hop my way to the store and go inside for some kind of respite. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for years and so the owner Sajiv knows me well. There are a lot of nuts in my neighborhood and they love to frequent the store and act all crazy and shit, so he always welcomes my sane presence whenever I visit.
I enter the store. My face grimaced with pain and wet from tears. Sajiv and his father are behind the counter. They look horrified. They think I’ve been attacked.
I manage to sputter out my predicament in between sobs.
“I’m.. okay. It’s not as bad as I look… I… I just can’t walk … my… my knee … ”
Sajiv rushes to get me a stool to rest upon, which I gratefully accept. My knee is throbbing. As I calm down and explain my predicament, his father (an elderly man) says to me through his thick accent:
“Your body is too big …”
He gestures by holding his hands together then pulling them far apart to further illustrate my girth
“and so your knee can not hold it up anymore…”
I would have been amused by his candor if I wasn’t so embarrassed and in so much pain.
Instead I burst into tears… again.
Sajiv speaks to his father in Hindi and waves him away.
As his father shuffles away he pats his own left knee and offers these words of comfort:
“My knee hurt too because I am old. You are young. Your body make your knee…”
Sajiv and I both cut him off:
“Yeah, yeah, I know. I heard you the first time old man! Thank you, go away now.”
Sajiv watches as his father walks away and looks at me with a shrug. We look at each other and for the first time I start laughing.
Then a parade of misfits start coming into the store. They are all wearing wearing dirty coats with torn pockets. They are all buying lottery tickets and generic cigarettes. This continuous stream of characters come and go. They buy several lottery tickets, then spend about five minutes arranging them on the counter before tottering back out into the cold, muttering and coughing, their fingertips stained brown by tobacco.
Other customers come in and are just plain rude, mocking Sajiv’s accent, barking orders. He processes the transactions and gives me an occasional “See what I have to deal with?” glance. And I thought I had problems! Now I understand why he always greets me so warmly when I run in to pick up a quart of half and half, cigs or cat food. I make faces at him that make him laugh. Sajiv seems grateful for my company and I am in turn grateful for his kindness.
It is a much needed distraction.
Twenty-five minutes pass and I attempt to apply weight on my leg. I can not stay here forever. I really do just want to go home. I don’t have that far to go to get to my building. But I do have to get up the front stairs and then the two flights upstairs to my apartment and sanctuary. How will I ever achieve this?
Miraculously, I can apply weight to the knee and though I feel a lot of pain it is not the horrific sensation that I experienced earlier. I decide to go for it.
Sajiv’s father appears with a candy bar and a smile.
“No more cry. Candy to make you smile like little girl.”
“and add more weight to my knees!” I say to myself. Actually this offering does make me feel better. So, I take the candy bar and smile – just like a little girl.
He pats me on the head and I am off. They hold open the door as I hobble one step at a time back into the ice cold night air.
Step. Grimace. Hop. Rest. Step. Grimace. Hop. Rest.
I make it to the corner and turn back to see Sajiv and his father standing in the store’s doorway with such genuine concern on their faces that I find myself reassuring them.
“You sure you don’t want to wait and I can drive you home?”
“No, it’s much better now. Thank you.”
I know that Sajiv can’t leave his father there to deal with those fools coming into the store and I don’t want to wait untill closing time.
Step. Grimace. Hop. Rest. Step. Grimace. Hop. Rest.
I cross the street in front of a few cars stopped at the light. I am feeling ever so like the old crippled lady, all the while praying that the walk signal holds and I don’t hold up traffic. I finally reach the other side of the street and rest. The pain is bearable. I keep repeating to myself:
“I can do this. I can do this. Just a little bit further now.”.
I finally reach my front gate and use my good leg to step up each stair that leads to my front porch and lift the offending leg up. There is pain but not horrific pain. I make it to the porch where I sit down on a chair and rest before I enter the foyer to tackle the two flights to my apartment.
It’s freezing out, but I hardly notice. I get up and hobble to my buiding’s front door and enter the foyer. Using my cane and the banisters I propel myself up the two flights of stairs, panting and muttering my mantra to mself: “I can do this. I can do this.” like an old crazy woman. It is exhausting. But I am too close to home to care. Finally, I hobble to my front door and let myself in.
I’ve never been so happy in my life. I throw my coat, scarf, hat and gloves on the floor and maneuver onto my bed where I will stay for the next week.
What a trauma! I will never take walking without pain for granted again. I create a “Bucket List” of the things I will do If I am ever able to walk without pain again.
I see the Ortho-surgeon tomorrow at ten A.M.
I will keep you posted.