This is a continuation of Fall, which is a Memoir.
It has been, at this point, close to four months since my injury and I am tired. Tired of using my cane, and wearing the brace to hobble my way through this socioeconomic blight of a neighborhood, down to the convenience store that is five blocks away, bright and early, and fully hung, over three mornings a week to catch the bus out to my physical therapy and then to hurry across several lanes of traffic to make it to the bus back when I am done. I am sorely tired of leaning on my daughter’s stroller as I limp a mile and a half each way, several times a week to the grocery store to pick up what limited provisions I can carry on my back. I am tired of being the one waiting up for my significant other to get home from work; even the slight hint of irony to our role reversals just pisses me off more.
Therapy for my knee has become more aggravating. One recent pool session involved playing race the clock as the water slowly drained out so they could fix the aquatic treadmill; the device that is supposed to be an integral part of my treatment and yet has been out of service since the day before my first appointment. Upon my arrival for what has turned out to my final encounter with Jude and the pool the treadmill was working but, it turns out to be almost unnecessary due to how far along I am in my recovery anyway. What is perhaps even more annoying, my last land appointment my therapist was absent and so I was left in the care of someone who actually listened to my concerns and made an attempt to involve himself as I did my exercises, all while handling two other patients and never once fidgeting with his fancy new smart phone nor going and hanging out at the desk in the middle of the gym. This only reinforces my opinion that my regular guy is an irreparable douche with a bush broom attached to his upper lip. All of this while my anxiety is growing over the tiny little fact that my limited insurance is about to top out on how many of these oh so extremely therapeutic appointments are going to be paid for.
With all of these things in mind I go to my evaluation at the orthopedic clinic that is handling my case. The same as always Physicians Assistant scowls at me because I am still using my cane which I was presented with the last time I saw him. On that previous visit he tried to ream me because I could barely flex my knee at all despite having been to therapy a grand total of once, and now I have to show how far I have come since. Standing with my back to the wall and holding on to the back of a chair for balance I slowly raise my emaciated leg, I force my foot farther and farther back towards the wall despite the stiffness and pain. My weeks in the vice like contraptions in the physical therapy room have paid off as I manage to eek out the ninety degrees that is required for the PA’s satisfaction. He tells me I can sit down and he scampers off with my latest set of x-rays to go see his master, the actual doctor in charge of my case.
It seems it is another busy day for the clinic and my attendant doesn’t return for half an hour. When he returns I am told the good news, the thing I have wanted the most since I started coming to this building. I am getting out of the brace. I can hardly believe it at all. I find myself excitedly asking about how much longer before I can stop using the cane and get back to my job at the restaurant.
He says, “Right away, you can take that brace and cane home and burn them, Dr. Vlasic says to cut you loose.”
And just like that I am ticked off all over again. “Cut me loose.” This phrase should have been a great relief to me. Instead, I what I hear is that some jackhole of a doctor whose name sounds like a brand of pickles and hasn’t talked to me or even looked at me once since the second or third day after I woke up in the hospital, who may have a piece of paper in his files that lists my occupation as a cook is letting his testy little minion tell me that I have been dismissed from their collective presence and I am free to figure out on my own how I am supposed to return to work with what limited mobility I have. I am not their problem anymore, that is what is really be explained here in not so many words. I am a poor person, with the type of insurance that poor people have and that is not going to last very much longer so I am being “cut loose” before they are stuck trying to squeeze money from my limited personal finances instead.
At the end of the day I am left with a certifying that I am fit to return to my job that hastily scrawled by someone who’s probably closest experience to what I do for a living is that the have at one point eaten in a restaurant, and the kind of deep seeded anger and depression that could almost be mistaken like optimism from the outside. I manage to shove the accursed and by this time foul-smelling brace into my back pack and then, out of habit, lean on my cane as I make my way past the reception desk to the elevators. I have a bus to catch and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a one way ride this time.