Last summer, almost to the day, I fractured and dislocated my knee. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant. I was playing (soccer/football) and the tackle was “reckless and ridiculous.”
So, on the anniversary of the tackle and an injury that sent my life in new directions, here are a few thoughts about recovery.
Sorting out the injury
Rehab was the first order of the day. I visited the Glasgow Royal infirmary on a regular basis. This involved squats and dips and stretching and rubber tubes.
Yes, the NHS is understaffed and overworked, but the physios were tremendous!
I also had to get the extent of the damage straightened out. The doctors (and I) needed to go deep. Cue the futuristic MRI.
Once I received the letter, a weight was lifted. I was getting to the bottom of the injury.
So, I prepped myself. I was not pregnant. Check. I filled in the questionnaire. Check.
I left my family at home. And got psyched. As a “citizen in need of medical attention,” I felt like I was visiting the Elysium cure-all machine:
I went to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for the test and took some pictures along the way.
After I was stuck in the deafening machine for 35 minutes on a Sunday morning, it was determined NO SURGERY was required. No need to go under the knife.
As you’d expect, the injury caused a massive disruption in my existence. Yes, my whole freaking existence. Both my personal and professional life was affected.
For starters, I became more familiar with ‘pain.’ Regular, recurring pain. Others, I’m sure, deal with higher levels of pain all the time – and have done so for years. It was new for me, though. It didn’t go away. It stuck with me, niggling. Persistent. I realized that I’d have to be stubbornly optimistic, too.
On a personal level, the pain and physical restrictions impacted how much I could horse around with my kids. That sucked. I occasionally fretted about the long-term damage to my knee and whether I’d make a full recovery. There was anxiety, in other words.
On a professional level, the disruption wasn’t terrible. It helps that I’m a writer and teacher and don’t have to be on my feet all day. Were this not the case, I might have considered worker’s compensation. I had to cancel on a few people and events, which was regrettable. On the positive side, if I can call it that, the ever-present pain in my life pushed me to think about types of pain, the use of drugs to dull the pain, and the future of my own research.
After I got my knee sorted out with the MRI and determined there was no need for surgery, I could start focusing on targets. But what kind of goals did I have?
I settled on (again) some personal and professional goals.
On the personal side, I wanted to make up for the lost playtime with my kids. So lots and lots of horsing around in the back garden!
I decided that I’d focus on some running. I’m closing in on 40 and thought it’d be cool to try and run a 10 kilometer race in around 40 mins. A 40 in 40? Or 40 at 40? Something like that. I’ve kicked off the training. Stay tuned!
Professionally, I sought to build ‘pain’ into my research agenda. I couldn’t ignore it over the past year, so I channeled it. I talked about it more than I have in years past. And I wrote about it far more, as well.
You can read about pain and drugs, for instance, in my new book Strange Trips: Science, Culture, and the Regulation of Drugs.
A Year On
It’s the ‘paper’ anniversary of my knee injury. It really was brutal. The bright side, I suppose, is I learned a lot about myself.