Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wounded Knee

Last night I went bowling, and only made it through the fifth frame before I dinged up my knee.

It was my last night in Las Vegas with my daughter and son-in-law (Jo & Peter) before heading to northern California for the next leg of my trip. Our plan was a light evening of a meal and bowling at the Red Rock Casino (one of those spots well off the strip that mainly caters to the locals), and the back home. 

Our evening ended abruptly when I tripped on my follow through trying to pick up a 2-4-5-8 "bucket" for a spare. I had noticed as soon as we started bowling (at lanes I'd never been at before) that there was almost no give on the approach, and I couldn't count on any slide in my follow through (if you're a sports aficionado it's like contrasting the way tennis is played on the clay at Roland Garros with the approach you'd use on the acrylic surface at Forest Hills). As I typically bowl at lanes with more slide, I had already tripped and fallen once in an earlier frame. This time it was worse.

As I strode into my release, concentrating on the four remaining pins, I over-committed my weight. When my right foot didn't slide, I stumbled across the foul line into the alley. As I frantically moved my right foot forward to catch myself from falling, my leg muscles tensed. Unfortunately, the alley itself—in sharp contrast with the approach—was well oiled, making it very slippery, and down I went. 

Though I didn't hit my head (good) I could tell right away that I'd sustained damage in the area of my right knee. My first thought was that I might have torn a ligament. It hurt like the dickens and I didn't want to put any weight on it. When Jo helped me stand and get to a seat, I held my breath to see if I could walk on my right leg. I was relieved that I could, but I was nonetheless in trauma. I turned white, was dizzy, and broke out in a cold sweat. (Nothing like having some fun at the old bowling alley, eh?)

This episode quickly earned a visit from three Red Rock officials, who had me fill out an accident report and wanted to know if I wanted to go to the ER. Buoyed by my ability to put weight on my right leg, I turned down the offer (which may have been foolish; we'll see). They brought out a wheel chair and I was given a bottle of water and a ride to the parking lot where I gingerly got into the back seat for the drive back to Jo & Peter's.

Today was a travel day and I was dreading negotiating the airports in Las Vegas & Sacramento, which meant a lot of walking with carry-on luggage. Ufda. Typing this I'm sitting in Marty Maskall's dining room (she's my overnight host before we drive together to Emerald Earth in Boonville for a facilitation training weekend), happy that I don't have to walk any more today and have access to ice packs.

Even better, facilitation is not an aerobic activity and if can successfully contain my natural tendency to pace and gesticulate, I should be able to give my damaged knee ample rest this weekend, which is surely what it needs.

As a silver lining, Jo had the inspiration to call her brother (my son), Ceilee, who tore his PCL (in front of my eyes 10 years ago) playing rugby at Amherst. Trained as an EMT, Ceilee learned all about knee ligaments when he tore his own, and he walked me through a simple way to test for tears on the phone. Using his tests, it seem unlikely that I've torn a ligament (whew), but I may have sustained cartilage damage to my meniscus. In any event, it was a nice bonus talking to my son, even if I had to jerk my knee around to have a good excuse.

All I know at this stage is that my right knee is warm and swollen, especially on the inside, and that the muscles on the top and side of my right thigh are very tender.

I'm fairly optimistic that the thigh muscles will bounce back quickly, and that today's strolls through airports was likely good for them (stimulating blood flow to the sore spots). For the meniscus analysis, I'll have to wait—something I don't particularly excel at—and see how much of my mobility returns and how long it takes. This could take a while.

I tell you, this getting old stuff is not for the faint of heart, much less for those who are weak in the knees. 

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