Larry's Letters


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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