Thursday, August 04, 2011


Four weeks ago upon the stair
I met a man who wasn't there
He kicked my leg from under me least, that's the only explanation I've got for how I managed to pull a calf muscle, not by skiing or parachuting or zip lining, but by climbing the stairs in my own home.

I should say first that climbing stairs is hardly an uncommon activity at our house. It's a townhome with four levels connected by three flights of stairs, and you can't so much as get a glass of water without going up or down some steps. We've lived here for two and a half years and I have legs of iron. Or so I thought.

Ha ha! That'll teach me to think!

So on this night, I'd just sent G off to bed and was on my way upstairs to my own room. As I reached the third step, she called "Hey, Mom, come and look at this," and when I pivoted to go back down again, something went ping in my right calf. Imagine a big, thick elastic band breaking inside your body, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what it felt like. All at once, I couldn't put any weight on my leg, and it hurt like nineteen different flavors of hell. I said "AARRGHGHGHGH!" or something like that, and went hopping and stumbling into G's room, where I sat on her bed and tried to stretch and massage and do anything that might make the pain stop.

After a bit, it improved enough for me to hobble into the kitchen for some ice and then upstairs to lie down with my leg propped on pillows. While I was lying there, it occurred to me that if this was a really serious injury--which seemed unlikely, given how it had happened, but then there I was, immobile--I was hosed. It was after ten on a weeknight, I was home alone with a not-quite-teenage kid, and there was absolutely no one I could call to take me to the ER. The idea of teaching G to drive the car fluttered across my mind, and then I decided that since there weren't any actual splintered bone ends sticking out of my leg, I would wait overnight, and maybe my Jedi mind powers would heal me while I slept.

I wouldn't exactly say that brilliant plan worked, but I was able to get around better by the next day, though I still couldn't put my foot flat on the ground. I thought of gritting my teeth and toughing it out, but finally gave in and went to urgent care, where I saw a doctor who looked as if he'd just graduated from high school. (Does this mean I'm getting old? Probably. Dammit.) I described how I'd hurt myself and what the pain felt like, and then we had the following exchange:

Doctor: Are you a scientist by any chance?
Me: No, why do you ask?
Doctor: You're very meticulous about details.
Me: I'm an editor.
Doctor: That explains it.

He was a hilarious guy and I kind of enjoyed the appointment, even though he scolded me for not wearing proper walking shoes while injured--I had tried my best to choose a reasonable pair that morning, but was hampered by the fact that my closet is full of three-inch platforms and spike-heeled stompy boots--and suggested that I go out and buy some New Balance or Saucony trainers. Er ... no. The corporate dress code does not allow for that sort of thing. He also said that it would take four weeks for my leg to heal completely, and at the time I nodded and smiled and thought Yeah, sure. I'll be fine in a couple of days, tops. Well, he was right, because it's been four weeks today, and the last tiny lingering bit of soreness is finally leaving me. (Which probably also means I'm getting old. Dammit!)

So, to sum up what I've learned from this experience:

1. You can hurt yourself doing nothing.
2. Leg injuries take longer to heal than you think.
3. Doctors sometimes know more than you do.
4. It's bad not to know any of your neighbors when you might need a ride to the hospital.
5. I'm getting old.


Alicia said...

ouchie ouchie ouchie.

I've torn the ACL in both my knees, so you have my complete sympathy in terms of the pain and the nuisance and, yes, how long it takes to heal.

And yes, the one that I tore at the age of 35 took longer to heal than the one that I tore at the age of 25. Now, at age 50, both still hurt me from time to time. Joy.

Mel R said...

Ouch! Feel better soon. Now that 8cm over 40 I get hurt all the time for no reason or wake up with mystery pains. My hubby says I should work out and that would happen less. Maybe he is right. Sigh.