The Fall

I do like the fall. The season that is. Not so much the Life Alert variety.

Saturday I was in the woods in Smithville playing (cleaning up the trail) and when I reached the bottom I decided to make my way to the creek to just see what I could see. No particular reason just wondering if I could gauge the erosion problem and if there was anything to be done about it. I cleared out a bit of debris from the creek bed and as I turned to make my way back I had to navigate down a large piece of shale at a 30° angle or so. There was no moss on it so I figured my boots would maintain traction. I was wrong. Very wrong. It happened so fast it’s hard to know exactly how it happened but I think my right foot slid down the rock and when it reached the bottom it grabbed and twisted it to the left. The whole bottom portion of my leg twisted in fact. But the upper portion did not. There was a horrifying sound that reminded me of a turkey leg being twisted off. As I lay on the ground writhing in pain I honestly didn’t know if the bottom of my leg was still attached. I expected it to flop around if I tried to stand. Somehow everything seemed to be connected. I tried to call and then text Sue but got no response. I had no idea how I was going to get out so I tried to test it. On the second step my knee gave out again and I was once again laying on the ground. Nearly in tears. I decided I was going to have to scoot on my butt back up to the trail. The slope of the creek bank is insane. It was going to be hard to get back up even with full use of my limbs. By that time, Susie had answered my text and was making her way down to me. I had made it maybe 10 – 20 feet up the bank by the time she arrived. She was able to help me out of a few tricky spots but I was reluctant to rely on her too much lest we both fall back down into the creek bed. At the point where the trail ends it’s perhaps a 20 or 30 foot drop to the creek bed.

Once we made it to the trail I tried testing my leg again on somewhat level ground and my knee gave out again. But I did have a rake with me which I used as a crutch and eventually figured out that if I kept my knee locked I could side step without it buckling. The trail is a quarter mile with a 200’ change in elevation. I reckon from the time of my fall until we actually got back to the house was maybe an hour.

In general I avoid going to the doctor until I’ve had a problem for more than a week or two but Susie really wanted me to go to the ER. In this case I was inclined to agree with her. Although I did talk her into allowing me a shower before we went. I was pretty much a mess after all of that. They got me back pretty quickly but the diagnosis, such as it was took a couple of hours. They asked about pain levels and tried to move my leg in various ways. Then they ordered an X-Ray. And eventually I learned that there was no fracture although there was fluid building up. Up to the point we went to the ER I’d kept that leg fairly active and was able to make it back to the examination room on my own (slowly) but in the hours laying there as the swelling increased the pain increased right along with it. They put me in a knee immobilizer and were prepared to send me on my way but I could no longer put weight on that leg without significant pain so I was given some crutches as well.

As I left my understanding of the diagnosis was this: it was either a torn meniscus or a sprain but it more specific diagnosis would have to wait until the swelling went down at which point I should see an orthopedist. I floated the idea of waiting a week and if it seemed better maybe I could skip that and the doctor seemed to indicate that was reasonable. A sprain didn’t seem so bad but since then I’ve learned that there are 3 classes of sprains: stretched tendon, partial tear, complete tear. Further if it’s a partial tear I may end up completely tearing it. On the other hand leaving my knee in this immobilizer may also not be good for it. So I’m totally confused about what I should be doing and have decided I need to see an orthopedist for a clear diagnosis and recovery plan.

I’m four days into this and there is still swelling. I can walk with the immobilizer without crutches though sometimes it sends a jolt of pain through my knee. I am able to sleep through the night now though. The first night I was unable to sleep at all since, for some reason, it’s more painful with my knee elevated than it is when I’m standing. Anyway, I’m hopeful that it’s not too bad and that I can get back on my feet again soon.