A little dark humor

It was almost 10 p.m. I was headed to bed. The phone rang and my wife answered it before I could get to it. She came into the room carrying the portable phone and said, “It’s the doctor’s office.”

Oh dear. You may have had some experience trying to get a doctor’s office to call you back. I don’t have much luck with that. I had been waiting most of the day for a call to tell me the results of the MRI that was done on my knee the previous day. But for them to call at this late hour, I jokingly thought to myself, dad-gum, they must want to take my leg off.

I picked up the phone. The male voice said, “Mr. Brady, this is Bill Smith.” I looked at the caller ID number on the phone and it was the doctor’s personal phone. Worse yet, he was identifying himself by his first name. Dad-gum, I thought, they must want to take both legs off. I really didn’t want to hear what he had to say.

The previous week I had been cutting firewood at a friend’s place a mile or two up the road. While doing that I had twisted or sprained or did something to aggravate my knee. When it wasn’t any better the next week, I thought I better have somebody take a look at it. I was walking around with only a barely noticeable limp, but there was still some pain in the knee.

The x-ray didn’t show any problem, except for just a touch of arthritis. The doctor recommended a cortisone shot, and if I wasn’t better the next week, to call his office, and he would set up an MRI, which would show any soft tissue damage, which would not have shown up on the x-ray. That sounded like a reasonable approach. The doctor’s assistant told me my blood pressure was high and I should get it checked.

That evening, I went out to the Washington Baptist Church and participated in some music for the Lenten service, since the Rappahannock Methodist Charge was responsible for the music and Pastor Sara was preaching. That was an uplifting experience, to see that many good Christians in one place, and there was no funeral going on.

The next morning, I thought that maybe my knee felt a little better, although I knew it usually takes longer than that for the steroid to take effect. Anyway, I went to the basement to stoke the fire in the woodstove, and when I started back up the steps it felt like somebody hit me in the back of the leg with a baseball bat. I caught my fall and didn’t hurt anything when I hit the concrete floor, but there I lay in the worst pain I have had since a blood clot found its way into my lungs some years ago.

My wife Linda came down the steps and I was trying to get my head up a little and then the most horrible wave of nausea hit me, and the sweat was popping out on my forehead like rain. I had no idea what was going on, but I was one pitiful puppy, lying on the floor of the basement. Then I remembered the admonition from the nurse to get my blood pressure checked. Oh dear, is this how it ends, I wondered.

In about two minutes, the nausea passed, but I couldn’t do anything with the leg. I couldn’t put weight on it, I couldn’t turn it, and I could barely touch it without pain. Linda had some crutches that had belonged to her mother, and she got them and somehow I got myself back upstairs. That’s when I called the doctor’s office and told them I didn’t need to wait until next week. I wanted the MRI as soon as they could arrange it.

I had the MRI that afternoon, and saw my regular doctor the next day, who gave me some blood pressure medicine. I am scheduled to see the cardiologist in a day or two. I was still waiting for the results of the MRI when the phone call from the doctor came in.

“Mr. Brady, you have a torn meniscus in your knee. It will require surgery, but it only takes about 20 minutes, and we can do it on an outpatient basis.” He also told me they would have to do it in the hospital and it would require general anesthesia, but I should be able to walk on it the day after the surgery. That didn’t sound too bad.

So, I am back in the waiting mode. Waiting for the surgery to be scheduled and then waiting to get in the garden and get that process started. I wanted to go squirrel hunting one more time, but the knee and the end of the season say that will have to wait. I guess I will be putting in a late garden this year. I don’t like that, but it is better than no garden.

I trust you are well, and if your doctor calls in the middle of the night I hope he is calling to give you good news.

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