Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sally needs a "leg up"

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but believe me, in my particular case, I wasn’t purposely trying to imitate anyone.

It all began back in January when my husband had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. According to what I’d read on the Internet about his knee, he should have been up and doing the jig within two or three weeks. Well, it’s been nearly four months now and he’s still is home from work and perfecting the art of moaning.

I’ll admit that as the weeks passed, I may have not been as sympathetic about his plight as I should have been. Right after his surgery, I’d flown to his side the minute he tried to make any move on his own, but lately I’ve been finding myself saying things like, “I told you I’ll get you a glass of water in a minute…as soon as I finish watching my movie! And lick your lips, they’re beginning to look all white and parched!”

Well, two Saturdays ago, I was in the supermarket and reached up to grab two gallons of bottled water from a top shelf. When I grabbed them and swung them into the cart, I felt a sharp pain down the side of my left leg. “Just shake it off,” I said to myself as I limped through the store. By the time I got home, the leg felt pretty good.

Sunday, I walked two miles with my dogs. The leg hurt a little, but I bit the bullet and finished my walk. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I also walked with the dogs. Each day, the leg hurt a little more. Thursday morning, I awoke feeling as if someone had rammed a hot corkscrew into the side of my knee and was twisting it.

That particular day, my husband had to undergo a bone scan at the hospital so his doctor could figure out why his knee is taking so long to heal. As I sat in the waiting room while he was having the procedure done, my knee and calf began to throb. I tried to stand, but couldn’t put any weight on the leg at all, not without making a noise that sounded something like, “Yeeeeeaaahhhh!”

I toyed with the idea of heading downstairs to the emergency room and getting the leg checked out, but the fact that I hadn’t shaved my legs in about three months made me decide against it. I could just picture the doctor wearing a pith helmet and using a machete to get through the undergrowth so he could find my leg.

That night, after dinner, I took a shower, shaved my legs, and put on non-holey underwear and stockings just in case I needed to rush to the hospital. At midnight, my husband yawned, stretched and said, “Well, I’m beat. I’m heading to bed.”

I smiled weakly through gritted teeth. “Um, honey? Can you do me a teeny favor?”

“Sure, what?”

“Can you take me to the emergency room?”

The look on his sleep-deprived face told me that he was less than thrilled with the prospect of getting dressed, chauffeuring me to the hospital in the middle of the night and sitting around watching a roomful of strangers moan and groan for what was guaranteed to be the better part of five hours. Nevertheless, we headed to the hospital.

“Well, we’ll x-ray it,” the emergency-room doctor said to me after examining my leg. “But I don’t expect any surprises. Looks like a muscle strain.”

An hour later, he was back. “I was wrong,” he said. “I actually was very surprised when I saw the x-rays. You have a fracture. I think when you twisted to put the water into the shopping cart, you tore the ligament and it pulled a piece of bone out of the side of your knee.”

Just listening to his description made my leg throb even harder. By the time I left the hospital at nearly 4:00 that morning, I was wearing a stiff, bulky leg brace from my thigh to my calf and was armed with crutches and a bottle of painkillers. The doctor had warned me not to remove the brace, per penalty of death, until I could see an orthopedic surgeon.

I immediately hated that brace. For one thing, the straps on it hooked with miles of Velcro, so when I tried to sleep while wearing the monstrosity, the Velcro stuck me to my flannel sheets. And seeing that it didn’t allow me to bend my leg at all, I couldn’t do simple things like bend over to tie my shoelaces.

Four days later, I saw an orthopedic surgeon – a young, handsome, dark-haired guy with a dazzling smile. The minute he walked into the room, not only did I forget about my pain, I had visions of women purposely flinging themselves down staircases, just so they could break a few bones and have him treat them.

The surgeon checked my leg and listened intently to the degree of gasping I did and in which octaves when he manipulated it in certain ways. Finally he said, “Well, you have a lateral femoral avulsion fracture and a lateral collateral ligament sprain.”

I stared blankly at him. I hadn’t understood a thing he’d said other than “fracture” and “sprain,” but it sounded terrible to me; something I figured would need immediate, intricate, complicated, life-or-death surgery.

“I could put you in a cast,” he said, “But I’m going to have you fitted for a hinged brace instead. It bends, so that way you can still walk normally while you’re healing. You’ll have to wear it for six to eight weeks.”

That figured. The hottest time of the year, and I’d be parading around in a big, bulky leg brace. I pictured myself trying to swim and sinking to the bottom of the lake.

So my husband and I now have matching canes and bad left legs. When we go out together, both limping and using our spiffy canes, we look like a pair of accident victims…or members of the World Wrestling Federation. In fact, when my husband first saw my leg brace, he said, “Cool! Stone Cold Steve Austin wears one just like that!”

Somehow, I don’t think that Stone Cold Steve Austin has to worry about wearing pantyhose or high-heels with his.

I have to admit, however, that my husband has been really helpful, catering to my every need during my convalescence, even though he has a bad leg himself.

He’s not fooling me. He’s doing it just to make me feel guilty.