Getting a Leg Up

One of my favorite humorist bloggers and authors, Charles Gulotta, once posted an article in which he discussed the trials and travails of Restless Leg Syndrome.  It’s quite entertaining and I don’t mind at all if you go read it (if you haven’t seen it already) before we proceed.  Go ahead, I’ll just have another cup of coffee while you’re away.

Oh, good, you’re back.  Have you ever had such problems?

The only time I myself ever had such an experience was in Junior High School after having encountered multiple knee injuries while participating in football, wrestling, gymnastics, and track & field stuff.  On this otherwise normal day, I was coming down the long, winding central stair case of the four-story school when my left knee suddenly decided it wanted to be somewhere else and departed, claiming it would meet up with the rest of my body parts in the cafeteria at lunch time.  

Naturally, this had a rather unsettling effect on the rest of my person, which was not prepared, especially since Left Knee was the one actively engaged in lowering the rest of the body down to the next step at the time of its sudden departure.  The whole kit-n-caboodle dropped, bounced off the steps and began rolling down the stairs, collecting other body assemblages as it went.  The whole thing began to snowball as this mass of tangled arms, legs and assorted body parts began to pick up momentum.

Fortunately for all of us, this collection of beings ran into something immovable.  His name was Dan.  Dan was built like a brick, and almost as smart, but he was a good guy.  He helped get the tangled, cursing mass untangled, though it remained cursing.  From the sound of things, I expected to be torn to bits by the angry wad of humanity.  But when Dan lifted me with a forearm like a hydraulic piston and set me on my feet, we discovered that Left Knee was still unaccounted for and I began the scene all over again, except the angry mob saw me coming this time and hopped out of the way, allowing me to slam face first into the steps and skid a ways downward.  Dan said, “Hmmm… knee’s gone.  Prolly why he fell before.”

Just at that moment a school official appeared out of thin air.   I never figured out how they did that; any time there was trouble, no matter where it was, within seconds some school staff member would appear as though beamed in to start taking names and issuing threats.  My antagonists decided there would be no blood bath today and hurried on to their next classes.  Except Dan; Dan was pressed into service to help carry me to the nurse’s office.

She called my parents, my parents collected me and made an appointment with the hospital for me to be looked at.  It was decided that I’d torn a cartilage in the knee and a flap of that had gotten between some things it should not be between, and this was a problem.  I spent the next several weeks undergoing physical therapy to strengthen certain knee muscles enough to be able to take the place of the cartilage which was scheduled to be cut out.  Mostly, this “therapy” involved sitting on the dryer at home doing leg extensions with a net bag of canned goods tied to my foot.

The surgery is a story unto itself, encompassing my death, an out of body experience, my restoration to life, and an (almost) romantic encounter with a nurse called Thumper.  But that is a tale for another time.

This was before the modern, enlightened times of microsurgery and laparoscopy.  To get at the offending cartilage, they laid my knee open like a fileted fish and chopped it out.  I think they used a stone axe because the scar tissue that formed afterward required repeated surgeries to clean up.  Fortunately, by the time these were required arthroscopy was coming into general use and was improved over the years.  The last of these surgeries was little more than an office visit and a day on the sofa watching sci-fi movies before I was back at work.

After the scourging that Left Knee was subjected to for having gone AWOL, it has since thought better of simply abandoning the rest of my body without warning and has not done it again.  Although, it does complain bitterly during rainy weather that it would prefer to stay in bed while the rest of the gang goes off to take care of the daily chores.

After the surgery I spent a couple of weeks under the tutelage of The Marquis DE Sade (a.k.a rehabilitation therapist) learning to walk again; major damage to a limb (like this surgery) will cause the brain to switch the limb off to protect it.   Getting the power restored was not pleasant.  Then a few months on crutches at school, bullies forcing me to learn to become a crutch-ninja,  my coming out (or coming off) coinciding with a school swim party where a track team-mate challenged me to a friendly race, the heart-warming feeling of a whole pool/gym/track building full of school mates chanting, “Go Doug, Go! Go, Doug, go!”, and an (actual) romantic encounter with a young lady I didn’t even know cared, but went on to become my first serious girlfriend.

All in all, it was a grand adventure.  Not one I ever want to repeat, mind you, but one I’m glad to have experienced once.  But I do feel bad for Charles, whose wandering leg adventure is an on-going story.

12 thoughts on “Getting a Leg Up”

  1. Thanks for the mention, Allan. The restless leg thing continues sporadically, most often when I’m confined and movement is impractical or unwise — such as when I’m buckled into an airplane seat, or when it’s my wife’s turn to pick the movie. Your experience sounds much more dangerous, as well as painful. I look forward to the rest of the story, including the almost romantic encounter with a nurse. (Thumper? You were under heavy anesthesia, weren’t you?)

    1. Yes, I was under a pre-op anesthetic when I sang the love song to her from my gurney, but after surgery was another matter.

      Sooo… I’d guess you’re not planning on becoming an astronaut? 🙂

      Thanks Charles.

  2. Enjoyed reading this, very descriptive and visual…..sounds like you went to school in a school similar to mine…:-)

    1. Thanks Mary. I went to 12 schools; all were about the same: buildings were different shapes, but the workings were all similar.

  3. I really feel for you having to go through all that. I’m the survivor of many grim and nasty situations and have remained unscathed, much to the amazement of my friends, family and medical personnel. It’s my mind that has the ‘wandering’ problem, a wandering problem rooted in less physical and more metaphysical accidents and incidents. My mind has a habit of playing up when the emotional or psychological winds change. My legs on the other hand, or my hands on the other leg, remain obstinately mechanically sound, in spite of what I’ve put them through.

  4. Wow, what a tale. I’m lucky to have never injured myself like that. Still, you left two cliffhangers; the death thing and Thumper. Come on, give us the rest. 🙂

  5. Dear Doug,I very much like the way you describe this “event”,it sounds funny but I know it was very serious.I enjoy your posts in general.Blessings from Shulamit,Israel

    1. Thank you Shulamit. I find it easier to write about painful experiences if I turn them inside out and look at them with humor. I suspect my readers enjoy them more that way too. Is the weather warming up in Israel yet? I sure hope so.

      1. Yes,that is very true.Humor makes it a lot better.We have still some cold rainy days,but some warmer ones too.The many almond trees have quite big blossoms and today I went to get vegetables without my coat! 🙂 If there is no wind you can actually get a sunburn if you stay out for a few hours.This time of year always makes me hopefull that everything will get better.Take care,and keep in touch

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