Larry's Letters

18-04-01

Hi, everybody! I’ve injured myself. I’ve torn a tendon my knee, the one that leads right up the front of the thigh.

According to the emergency room crew, it’s “partly torn”. As I begin this, I haven’t seen my own doctor yet.

What happened:

I flew up to Seattle for Norwescon on Thursday. Steve Barnes picked me up a little after noon. We talked RINGWORLD’S CHILD, and he led me through some valuable insights. We followed maps to Brenda Cooper’s new apartment. There, as planned, we three changed for a yoga class that is held at 106 degrees temperature.

However crazy that sounds-Marilyn hated the idea-what could happen? I’m bracketed by collaborators.

The yoga went okay. The heat got to me halfway through; not unusual; I lay down to get past that. Finished the class. We were outside, still hot in Seattle damp weather. Presently, ready to make for the car, I tried to stand up. My left slipper slid on the slippery pavement-slid back under me-and I felt and saw my kneecap slide out of place. Yoga had softened all those muscles.

One of us called 911. An ambulance and stretcher arrived. I was told my kneecap was in place, so I straightened my leg and found I could stand up. Steve was up quick, telling me to grab him for support, and I did. One step and I learned that my knee was buckling without resistance.

I got X-rays. Came home with them. They’ll have to be returned.

The ER doctor said: “Partly torn tendon. Don’t bend the leg for (usually) four to six weeks.” And I was given a leg brace, a torture implement to hold my leg straight by force. Yes, I sleep with it.

The next couple of days were…interesting. It could have been a nightmare…but Brenda wheeled me around in a hotel wheelchair all Friday, brought me ice, etc. Without her it would have been a mess.

Toilets have to be negotiated carefully when you can’t bend your knee.  Even handicapped toilets.

You notice a lot of handicapped at conventions, when you’re handicapped  yourself. Algis Budrys is in a wheelchair for awhile, Charles Brown caught us, and we’ll appear in tandem in LOCUS.

People keep asking the same question. 

I barely slept Thursday. Friday I got over that: went to sleep in the filk concert room, entertained to sleep, stretched out on four chair. Brenda thought I was applauding in my sleep, but I wasn’t; I was aware of the music.

The handicapped elevator to half the meeting rooms goes up from the kitchen!

By Saturday I’d tired of the wheelchair. I could stand up, and I developed a half-arc footstep. Brenda stuck with me. I could fall over. I was trying not to bring her, and Steve, down.  What could have been a nightmare, wasn’t. People are too solicitous for that: friends, strangers, and the ones whose names I should remember, were all kindly and sympathetic.

Marilyn had called my own doctor. Appointment Monday.

Saturday evening: the plan had been to fly home, be home for a traditional Easter egg hunt. I called Alaska Friday and got upgraded to First Class with a bulkhead. …Only, it didn’t take. The seat was given me only through Portland. That had to be fixed. 

It got fixed. I flew home in a bulkhead seat with room to stick my leg past the bulkhead into First. At one point a delighted flight attendant announced she’d got me all three seats…then realized, as I had, that the arms don’t come up; the trays are in them. From Portl and I was riding with a woman and child, part of a group of nine skiing enthusiasts. The flight attendant didn’t like me “blocking” them.

Hey, I can stand up and let them past. The only thing I can’t do is bend my leg.

#

Easter Sunday was fun. I’m mobile enough if Marilyn drives. Lunch was good, and the conversations were a delight. Thank you all. Kim, thanks for the charity egg. I never found one. With Sandy’s wit I would have found many.

#

So I’m home, and it’s Monday, April 16, 2001, and I’m planning an altered life. 

The doctor told me that this is the major muscle in the leg, that if it isn’t reattached I may never get function back. It must happen fast. On Wednesday they’re going to reattach the tendon.  Then-maybe I’m in a cast; if not, it’s something that absolutely immobilizes the leg. I spend the first night in the hospital.

Marilyn is optimistic. We’ve had knee surgery before. (Torn meniscus.) This isn’t as extreme as knee replacement, which we may face someday. I hope she’s right, and I intend to emulate her attitude.

The restaurant forays we planned depend on my being able to straighten my leg. I hadn’t planned any trips until July, so there’s no need to dread an airplane seat.

I can’t sit in a barber’s chair. I feel shaggy already.

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