Awkward Steps

This is a continuation of Fall.

The buzzing of the saw sends cruel, teasing vibrations up and down my whole body. The cutters banter back and forth about who operates the saw the fastest. I am not sure of their consensus but who ever it is must have the day off, this is taking forever. This marks the second time I have been in the cutting room since my surgery and I hope it to be my last.

With a soft cracking sound, and a blast of cool air, I can see it now. The white, atrophied thing with the clumsy scar running through the middle, taking up most of my vision. It is my leg or what my leg has rotted into over the past months.After this long I feel a highly disassociated from it, I’ve come to know it more as a useless turd, wrapped in a dark blue fiberglass shell that I was forced to drag around whenever I need to be somewhere. If I was poetically inclined I might think of this in terms of cocoons and moths and other shit like that but, I’m not.

My emaciated limb now rests in the back half of the cast supported by a stirrup. The front half lays next to me propped in the corner with the crutches. Those fucking things again, they’ve long since stopped hurting when I use them, but just looking at the exhausts me. Unconsciously, I flex my ankle and accomplish no movement but, manage to experience excruciating pain as I attempt to use long immobilized tendons. The absence of the upper portion of the cast makes me very aware of the air conditioning. The Physicians Assistant walks into the cutting room.

He’s friendly enough in that rushed professional sort of way that lets you know that he has dozens of cases to see to in the next hour and if he could just get you taken care of he’ll be more than happy to tick off the box next to your name and you can get on with whatever it is that you do when his presence is not required. He asks me how I’ve been? How’s my pain level? How I’m doing on my meds.

I am very specific when I explain; I have been in a cast that makes most activity uncomfortable and sitting on the toilet an acrobatic stunt, I’ve been in a lot of pain obviously, but I am managing it well, and that I’m fine on my painkillers that I have been using  as little as possible because; they fuck with my mood, make me unable to concentrate, and they keep me from being able to shit, which is no good for anyone’s mood. I believe using in total honesty when it comes to dealing with these medical types.

He just nods and scribbles something on his clipboard and tells me he is going to go ahead prescribe me more pain medicine anyway. Just Lortabs this time, a bit of a step down from the usual seemingly endless supply of Oxycodone. Also he wants me to switch from ibuprofen to acetaminophen for inflammation for some bullshit reason that I gather has something to do with my liver.

Great, more pills I don’t want to take, good thing I’m an honest man I know a lot of people who would shit solid gold bricks if they knew the mountain of pharmaceuticals I am sitting on. It’s a tempting idea, given my lack of income at the moment, but doing time for a felony of that magnitude is not the way I want this to go. My leg is strapped to the newly sawn-in-half cast with an ACE bandage and I am instructed to crutch my way through the labyrinthine halls of the orthopedic clinic to the X-ray room.

It strikes me as odd, how a place that treats people who can’t walk isn’t designed with them in mind. Several films are taken while the elderly radiologist babbles on about how she is just getting over a cold and her daughters school/wedding/funeral or whatever the hell she’s saying. I don’t think she realizes that I can’t hear her when she is behind the glass window where the controls to the camera are. I don’t care enough to follow along at any rate but, I nod and smile at her any way. When we are through she helps me off the table and I am sent hobbling on my way to wait outside the cutting room until the PA catches up with his workload. When he finally scurries by he gets someone lower down on the ladder to get me moved into a small consultation room. Here I wait some more.

Eventually he figures out what room I am in, and shows me one of the films they took of my knee. A couple of wires and a screw. That’s it, that’s what all of this is about.

 I fracture my patella in three places and that’s what I’ve got for a memento. A couple of wires and a screw. Well two screws actually, He lets me know that I can’t see the other one in this film. Good news though, I’m staying out of the cast this time.

They order me fitted for a brace, and write me up for some physical therapy appointments. They take a few notes on how much mobility I have in my joint, it turns out to be basically none. They strap the brace on me and bring me my shoes and discharge papers. The PA walks out with a definite air of one who has fulfilled his obligations and shuts the door with a gentle click. I am left alone.

Sometime later the door opens and, much to the surprise of one of the clinic workers, I am still in there, crying. I can’t bend my knee far enough to get my shoe on, and trying to do it is causing me unbearable pain. She brings me some tissues, puts my shoe on for me. As she helps me stand up, I get a gentle reminder to try and walk heel to toe, it’ll take some time to remember how to do it. I get myself under control and head to the reception desk for checkout. I never did manage to thank her for helping me.

A brief elevator ride later I am out the front doors.  I am running late so I’ll have to set up my therapy appointments over the phone after I get home. Using only one of the accursed crutches for support  I use short, awkward steps to  cross the street in time to catch the last bus home. It’s not much but I am walking under my own power again and it makes me feel better than I have in months.

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