The Kindness of Strangers
Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com fame ran the New York Marathon this weekend (congratulations, Heather!) and broke her foot (feel better, Heather!). Her post about the reactions she’s encountered reminded me of the six months I spent wearing something like this:
Yes, I partially tore my ACL in a college fencing bout, and due to scheduling issues (my vacations, cross-referenced with the invasion of Panama, which if you do some very basic math will also tell you something about my age), I spent the better part of my senior year of college on crutches. Because I went to school out of state, I traveled a lot–even in the knee immobilizer. I became very familiar with bulkhead seats and the need to argue that, yes, it was unreasonable to expect me to go all the way to the back of the plane instead of violating the sanctity of the first/business class lavatory. (I remember saying to one flight attendant, “Seriously, I am willing to ask every person in first class if they really have a problem with this. Do you want me to do that? Because I’m happy to.” She acquiesced; if any of those passengers had did have a problem, they never hinted at it.)
In the course of those flights, and the wheelchair escorts to and from each gate, I seemed to meet every person traveling, each of whom wanted to talk about my knee. Which is why I later started reading true crime on airplanes, but that’s a story for a different post. Maybe.
Eventually I was able to jettison the knee immobilizer and just use the crutches. And I was struck by the looks I got from gate agents who seemed to think I was faking (because riding a wheelchair through the airport when you don’t need one is, apparently, cool enough to cause people to fake injuries). Heather’s post reminded me of that. It seems crutches aren’t enough.
So that was my senior year in college: a short fencing career, months on crutches, arthroscopy over Spring Break (woo hoo!), physical therapy, and arguing with airline staff. Which doesn’t even touch on this exchange as I waited for my surgery:
Surgeon: So how’s the knee feeling?
Me: You know, I really haven’t noticed it since I had the appendectomy.
Surgeon: [slightly alarmed] And when was this?
Me: Two weeks ago.
Surgeon: Uh huh. When did they say you could go back to normal activity?
Me: Well, I’m not supposed to lift anything for a few more weeks, but what do you mean by normal?
Surgeon: When did they say you could drive?
Me: Oh. You know, they didn’t say. But I’ve been driving for a week.
And then in the recovery room, I got hypothermia. Good times. Spring Break! Woo hoo!
Photo from Patterson Medical website.