It started off with the best of intentions, as these things often do.
Last night, I was about to visit one of my fraternity chapters to offer my opinion on a big issue that they would be discussing. I had some time to kill before the part of the meeting where I was needed, so I stopped by my favorite used book/CD store on the town square for a little bit. Needing to use the facilities when I arrived, I headed downstairs to the basement where (I thought) they were.
And it was at that point that my legs came out from under me.
I began riding the stairs down on my behind as if going down a slide, and if I'd just kept doing that, I might have stopped halfway down and none the worse for wear. But the unconscious human desire when falling is to make oneself not falling again; a lot of cyclists and skaters break their hands by using them to stop themselves when falling off the bike or the board, and my left leg decided to pull up short and try to regain my footing. But that strategy was not successful; I heard a small "pop," kept sliding for just a bit more, and suddenly felt some excruciating pain.
(I must have yelled "Aaaaaahhh!" as people are prone to do in that situation, because the guy behind the counter--now upstairs from me--said, "Are you all right?" My response was, "Yeah, I'm good," but as I sat there for a while, I realized I wasn't exactly good after all.)
I think I knew even at that point that, unless quite a bit of the pain I was experiencing went away pretty soon, I would not be going home under my own power that night. But still, I continued on my previous mission to find the restrooms, which--D'oh--were not in the basement after all. I'd gone down there for nothing. (Maybe guys should ask directions sometimes.)
The fact that I was still able to stand and walk (if hobblingly so), and that nothing appeared to be protruding out of me a la Joe Theismann, told me that it was highly unlikely I broke something. So as I made it slowly up to the main floor again (leaning on my good leg, the way Dad used his cane after his hip replacement-replacement last fall) and after I did indeed hobble to the restroom (I'll never forget its location again, that's for sure), I sat down at a table up front to ponder my next move. This didn't seem to rise to the level of an expensive ambulance ride or even a trip to the ER. But I was 50 miles from home and likely unable to operate my car (one of the few times that driving a stick proved to be a disadvantage), so I needed to change a few things about that situation.
LIttle by little, everything fell into place: Some friends from near my house, both of whom can drive a stick, agreed to come up and get me, one of them driving my car home. One of the guys left the meeting (which I never did get to attend, of course), and brought me water, Advil and a giant cookie to keep me from taking the latter on an empty stomach. We also talked fraternity business until my friends arrived, taking my mind off the pain I was experiencing.
As I got home and was able to examine things more closely, I was happy to see no discoloration of any kind--just some swelling above the kneecap and intermittent tightness in my thigh (everything below the knee is fine, but I wasn't able to provide enough pressure to operate my clutch because of the stiffness). After some less-than-restful sleep in an odd position, I realized I wouldn't be teaching in the schools this morning.
The next question I've gotten from people after relating the story to this point is, "So have you seen a doctor yet?" And my answer is, nope, that's tomorrow morning. Having to bum rides off friends to get anywhere, my options were limited, and in order to get to the college in time to teach my combo (which is going to an out-of-state festival in eight days), I had to leave several hours early. (By putting my call of duty to teaching above my personal well-being like that, I'm either a real trouper or just plain nuts--not sure which.) But tomorrow is not a college day, so I'll go in the morning and get a professional opinion as to what's going on and what my next move should be.
I'm hoping, of course, not to have to be on crutches (though a jaunty cane would be fine; I might even get a top hat to go with it) and to be able to drive again soon. It seems like some sort of big muscle strain, and I know that these things take time to heal. But if I can't operate my clutch for a while, I might have to rent an automatic car (which would pay for itself in little over an hour of teaching in the schools).
This whole thing is a really weird feeling; I'm so used to doing things for others that it feels odd to have to depend on others doing things for me. I'm used to going at 900 miles per hour during the teaching day, and now it takes me five minutes to get to the parking lot. And for the guy who's never broken a bone (OK, maybe my little toe once, but that hardly counts) and still has his tonsils and appendix, the somewhat "indestructible" feeling I've often had has taken a little hit here. (We make plans, God laughs.)
So wish me the best in the morning; pray for me if you're so inclined. It looks like I'll have a bit more time at home for at least one more day (and that's absolute best-case scenario), so I'll keep everyone posted on my progress and probably blog about some other stuff; it is Tax Day tomorrow, after all.
Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my Aunt Nora in Indiana--yes, born one day before tax day; her sister, my Mom, would be born the day after tax day the following year. I wonder if my grandparents kept making jokes about their "little deductions" being born...