One step at the wrong time on the wrong spot, the earth beneath shifted and my left knee twisted too far towards one side, way farther than the ligament in there can handle – a sprain and no, I did not hear any sound that would indicate any dislocation.
The twisting itself wasn’t that painful, but I knew that whatever movement I make thereafter would be, so there I was halfway up the knoll behind the house that I was cleaning up the morning after Christmas, frozen. I ventured a small movement, and the pain was almost unbearable.
Naipitan ng ugat, a friend ventured that evening. He said it may have to be “snapped back into place,” and I almost fainted when he tried to do just that. No more snapping of anything back into place.
I reached for a wooden walking cane that was once used as a prop by an 80-something character in a play years ago. And for the next few days, the cane I went places.
At the mall, I got to park the car (thank God for automatic transmission, I could still drive) at the space reserved for the differently-abled, which meant a shorter walk from the car to the entrance. Nice.
Limping and walking with a cane, the security guard at the mall entrance for once didn’t think I’m up to no good and waived the S.O.P. of frisking me and poking inside my bag with a wooden stick. Nice. The limping even merited a rare bow and smile from him. Nicer, and odd.
The next day, again at the mall but this time without the car, I fell in line for a cab, and the guard offered to put me ahead of the twenty or so people in front of me. Cool, but I declined.
Day two, I thought the sight of the cane would afford me some consideration from motorists going down Session Road. Besides, cane or no cane, motorists are required to go to a full stop at pedestrian crossings. No luck. It’s still a game of patintero. If only that cab that just sped inches from me was going any slower, I could’ve used the cane to smack a window or a taillight.
No, it’s not gout (not yet, anyway), I told the familiar faces in Luisa’s. Really, it’s a sprain. That same evening, next door in Rumours, I again had to disappoint familiar faces… it’s not gout and neither is it arthritis. Yeah, sure, whatever, one replied (the place isn't called Rumours for nothing, you know).
A week or so since that fateful and painful morning, I’m wearing a knee brace, the knee’s getting better, no more swelling and pain has subsided and we’re at the beach. The next morning, I woke up my son for a pre-sunrise walk along the shoreline of Canaoay, San Fernando, La Union. Not paying much attention to the sand underneath my feet (we were totally amused by the ongoing power play between two rival gangs of dogs both trying to protect their respective turfs), that injured leg fell into a hole in the sand which made me want to bite a chunk of flesh off my arm. But some five minutes later, the knee actually started feeling much better. Cool, maybe that “snapped some misplaced thing back into place.”
Later that day, I even went for a short swim and the knee did just fine.
Back in Baguio, I was back in the garden. And for an instant, to pick up a potted plant, I totally forgot about the injury and knelt down, putting all my weight on what turned out to be an un-completely healed left knee. The pain was back. And now the wife’s on my back – go see a doctor!
I did the next day. He bent it this way, that way, sideways, and yes, it’s a sprain, and it’s quite bad. A torn medial collateral ligament with grade 2 symptoms. A 5-day therapy was prescribed.
First day, four electronic thingamajigs were attached around the damned knee – twenty minutes of electrocution (that’s how it felt anyway). Then twenty minutes of ultrasound treatment followed by a 10-minute massage. On the third day, some stretching exercises were added to the regimen. On the 5th day the therapist rested.
I saw the doctor again on the 6th. Though its condition improved a lot, he prescribed another five days of sessions with the hospital’s lone physical therapist. Doing what this time? The doctor said he’ll forward his recommended treatment to the therapist himself.
The next day, the therapist was surprised to see me. The doctor told me to go for five more. Did he tell you what exactly we’re supposed to do? , she asked. No, I thought he’d tell you that himself. So we did what we did last week. What exactly does that electronic thingamajig does? Relieve pain (but it wasn’t painful anymore). How about the ultrasound thingy? It’s a notch or two better than just a hot compress, it speeds up the healing process. So a hot compress would do. And I can do these same exercises at home. And my wife, who just bought me a nice new cane (the handle of the other one cracked, I need to lose some weight), can do that same massage you’re doing (even better).
The therapist reminded me to keep on using my cane even if I could already support myself on that injured knee, just to make me not forget that the knee wasn’t completely well yet.
Better parking, a smile and a nod, and I can get ahead of the line, so – sure, my pleasure. I paid the second week’s first session and went straight to the market to buy new plants for the garden.
Gout? The person manning the store where I buy pots asked when he saw me limping. Nah, I just really like this cane.