When I was a teenager I tore my Posterior-Cruciate Ligament (PCL) while running. I twisted an ankle, heard a loud pop, and suddenly I was in the most pain I’d ever been in in. My body knew my leg was broken. Students ran to the nurses office to have the school call an ambulance but the nurse refused. Instead she said I had to come to her. So three of my closest friends carried me from the track field to the nurses office where she suddenly realized how serious my condition was. She called my dad and he took me to the doctor. No ambulance was called that day and almost nothing was done for me.
I was told my leg wasn’t broken. In fact I’d torn my PCL, the ligament that crosses behind the more well know Anterior-Cruciate Ligament (ACL). I’d also dislocated my knee which tore my Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) and had done irreversible damage to my joint. The doctor said there wasn’t anything to be done and referred me to a physical therapy office which was shut down about 6 months after I finally stopped going. Not only were they not professional and not accredited they continued to cause damage to my knee. I didn’t walk for 3 three weeks and was on crutches for a month after that. From then on my knee dislocated easily and it happened constantly through the rest of my adolescence being that I was an active kid on the volleyball, tennis, swim, and sailing teams. I also developed arthritis in my knee before I was 20. Twelve years have passed and my life looks a lot different now that I realized the wrong doing that was done to me when I was younger.
Now, my friends want to go out to a bunch of bars on a Friday night. We get ready back at my apartment and they’re all in agreement that they’re not going to bring a purse. All of them tuck their cash and cards into pockets or bras and they’re ready to go.
I can’t. I have to take a bag. I have to be able to fit my 200 count bottle of pain relievers somewhere. I have to be able to bring my giant tin of Tiger Balm. I have to.
No, I can’t just leave it. Yes, I will need it; all of it. I will without a doubt, 100 percent be in pain. And if I’m in pain, I can’t dance, I won’t drink, I won’t move, and if it gets bad enough I won’t be able to speak. All I’ll be able to do is rub my joints and beg my friends, who are having a blast, to take me home.
I’ve been in pain since 2004. In the most recent years after seeing every doctor made available to me, I’ve been told over and over I have no options. There isn’t a surgery that exists that can help me, too much time has passed, and the bio-mechanics of my knee are uniquely…fucked, if you will.
I won’t leave my house without pain relievers or Tiger Balm. I won’t leave my city without my heating pad or an ice pack. I’ve canceled hundreds of plans, lost thousands of hours of sleep, and have had dozens of x-rays and MRIs. Doctors can’t operate, physical therapy doesn’t work, there isn’t anything I can do. So I deal with it.
Unfortunately, I am used to it. I’m in pain, always. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be woken up in the middle of the night because you’re in so much pain your brain can’t rest. But then, at that point, you’re in so much pain and you’re so tired you can’t move. You can’t get up to get some water to take your medicine or search through your belongings looking for Tiger Balm. Your brain is so chaotic with bright lights and your whole body is burning and there is nothing you can do but writhe miserably in pain. And no one else understands.
They can’t relate and they don’t know how to help you. Even I don’t know what to do but bite down on a leather strap and hope it’s over soon.