It started when I was 7 or 8 years old. My left kneecap proved itself tricky, sliding out of place when I was walking, running, and on one occasion, sitting in a kitchen chair.
It didn’t bother me much until it performed its clever little maneuver two weekends in a row, resulting in a grapefruit-sized bump in the middle of my unbendable leg, and my first trip to the emergency room, laying the foundation of what the medical people continue referring to as my “history.”
Corrective surgery was performed on first the left, and then a year later, on the right knee, which “went out” one sunny afternoon, following months of additional stress from supporting its recovering twin.
One upside to these early adventures was that I mastered decent crutching skills at a young age. Turns out they came in handy a few years down the road when my left kneecap shifted again in junior high; I sprained an ankle in high school; and dislocated and broke my left ankle four years ago. More “history” in the making.
Last month, I found myself reviving my “four legs good, two legs bad” act when my left kneecap again took a trip in the wrong direction — ironically, as I was on my way to putting on the moderate-support knee braces I’ve used intermittently for years, and fairly consistently since being diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome this past summer.
At the ER, and then the orthopedist’s, discussions of my treatment plan and prognosis all got around to the phrase, “Given your history ...”
I know they’re talking about my knees’ medical history, yet it was like being 8 all over again. Suddenly, I was back on crutches, couldn’t drive, skipped showering and had to rely on loved ones to help me manage simple things, like pulling up my left sock.
When I was laid up as a kid, homework was delivered to me by an itinerant tutor. As a small business-owning grownup, a way had to be found to keep me from falling behind on my commitments. Our little back room, which began its life with our family as my home office, was re-reconfigured to serve that purpose, as it had been during the ankle incident.
I’m currently in physical therapy and living in a high-tech brace that further frees me from crutches and is designed to adapt to my changing needs as I heal. I still have my zombie-on-the-prowl gait, and what will last longer, the nagging dread of a recurrence of the nemesis that’s lurked in my shadow for over half a century.
From the fourth grade through the 12th, doctors’ notes excusing me from gym class may have proved the best protection of my faulty knees. This time, my defensive weapons are space-age gadgetry, an expertly devised exercise regimen, and a better reserve of patience than I had 50 years ago. But only time will tell.
What this most recent adventure has driven home to me is that history isn’t just what happened in the past. It’s what we live and relive throughout our days. And as experience loves to prove, history has a habit of repeating itself — even when we do learn from it.
Woodsboro resident Susan Writer continues to work on her recovery, with her fingers crossed and crutches at the ready. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit her at Uexpress.com’s Ask Someone Else’s Mom.