Three weeks ago, I participated in a tradition at my college and made a wish on a penny. Because I hadn’t cleared out my wallet since leaving Oxford, I made my wish on a handful of English pence, tossing them into the water under the moonlight. My wish was for an amazing senior year, filled with lots of growth and learning, and most of all, happiness.
Those things could, of course, still happen. I hope (and think) that they will! But the weeks since have been dictated by the addition of a new element of my life, which has kind of gotten in the way of all three.
That, my friends, is a knee immobilizer. Let me give you some context.
There was a party at my college on Friday night. I’m not really a party kind of person, so instead of going, I invited over a few friends to have a pajama dance party in my room. (I’d like to emphasize at this point in the story that I was totally sober for the entirety of this night.) Before the last of my friends could even arrive, I did some sort of weird turn, put pressure on the turning knee, and felt a pop. And then some pain. A lot of pain.
“Okay, I’ll just keep dancing,” I thought foolishly. This turned out to be a bad idea after about four seconds.
I sat down, told my friends what had happened, and one of them – Taylor, who came to visit me at Oxford – went to go get me an ice pack.
“What do we do?” I asked. I tried to bend the knee, which turned out to be a bad idea after about 0.4 seconds. The pain was bad enough that I was starting to get teary. I have a pretty high pain tolerance – by baseline for an “8” on the pain scale was the two hip surgeries I had when I was 12, when they drilled a titanium screw into each hip.
This was an 8, too.
“Do you want to go to the hospital, or wait until tomorrow to see how you feel?” Taylor asked.
“I’m very very sure something is wrong, so it’s not so much a question of if I go to the hospital, but when,” I said.
So we called campus security, who thought that I was drunk and had probably slipped in a pool of my own vomit (it was, after all, a party night). They were delighted to find me totally sober and vomit-free, and less delighted to see that my knee was totally incapable of moving. When they tried to touch it and I screamed “PLEASE DON’T DO THAT PLEASE DON’T DO THAT,” they decided that the best way to get me to the hospital was in an ambulance. That’s how we get this picture:
Why yes, that is a flower crown.
So Taylor and I went to the hospital in the ambulance, with my screaming and crying every time my knee moved from a bump in the road. Then a check-in with the doctor, who repeatedly asked “Does this hurt?” while poking and moving me. My two answers were, “No, that’s fine,” and “AHHHHHHHHHHH AHHHHHHHHHH!!!”
Then x-rays, a “knee immobilizer” (or leg cast), and a diagnosis: either a sprain or a tear. See a specialist, and in the meantime, don’t bend it or put weight on it. Which means crutches and wheelchair to get around.
I’m trying really hard to find this funny. I’m trying really hard to be cheerful about the fact that I can’t walk anywhere, or shower by myself, or go to the library without being brought by a Campus Security vehicle. But in the end, it’s not all that funny to me. It’s very sad and frustrating, and it makes me feel helpless. No matter how cute my crutches look in Duct Tape, or how adorable we can make my wheelchair.
Until I see a specialist, I don’t know how long I’ll be in this situation. It seems to be healing pretty well so far, so in that regard I’m lucky, and I’m hoping it’s just a sprain. But until I know, and until I’m back to walking, I am trying really hard to see the positives.
For one thing, it’s not permanent. I will be back to walking soon.
But just as important than that, I have wonderful, amazing friends. They hold my plates in the dining hall, they get my books from the library, they help pivot my wheelchair into the elevator so the door doesn’t close on my foot. They help me hobble to the shower, and they bring me snacks and try to cheer me up.
So yeah, I’m sad and frustrated and I really hate my leg cast. I hate not being as independent as I’m used to, and I resent the ways in which this interferes with my everyday life. But I’m also very, very grateful, for all the ways this could have gone differently, and for all the people helping me make the most out of it.