It was a cold, dark November night.
I awoke from a strange dream, breathless from another coughing fit. I sat up, took a swig of water, popped a cough drop, but nothing quieted my hacking.
When I started to feel dizzy from lack of oxygen, I rose from my bed and headed for the stairs – and the codeine-laced cough medicine that awaited me below.
Still hacking, I stepped down the first stair. But below my foot was not the hard tread of the threadbare carpet, but something soft and slippery.
Before I knew it I was falling down one, two, three, four, five…six stairs.
I heard an ominous pop and my kneecap started to slide. Petrified of another dislocation, I slammed it back in with my fist.
Only then did I realize I was in serious pain. And that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to stand up on my own.
“Brian?” I yelled. “Brian, I need help.”
“BRIAN? Brian, HELP me!”
“For the love of God, Brian, WAKE UP!”
I heard the first whimpers from Tori’s room, meaning she was awake. But still nothing from our room.
“Tori? Tori, I need you to wake up your daddy,” I called.
“Mommy?” she called back sleepily.
“Yeah, baby, I need you to come here.”
She trudged down the hallway and peered down the stairs at me.
“Mommy? Are you okay?”
“No, honey. I fell down the stairs and I need help. Can you get daddy?”
She disappeared into our room, calling for her daddy. A lifetime (or a few minutes) later, he appeared, pulling on his jeans.
“What’s wrong? Where are you?”
“I fell down the stairs. Didn’t you hear me calling you?”
“No, I had my headphones on.” Then, as he shook himself awake, “Why weren’t you hanging on to the banister? You of all people…”
I have a history of falling down the stairs, you see. But I didn’t want to hear it.
“Can you please just help me up,” I snarled.
He did, and a short while later, I was ensconced on the couch, ice pack on my knee, three Advil in my stomach.
“Do you want to go to the hospital?” he asked.
“No. No, I do not. I’m fine.”
I was so not fine. But I was determined not to admit it.
In fact, I didn’t go to the doctor for two days. I even went to work. It wasn’t until my leg started to resemble that of an elephant that I gave in. And still, I thought nothing much was wrong.
Nothing much, that is, until the doctor looked at me with horror.
“When did you do this?” she asked.
I told her.
“And you’re just now getting this looked at?” She shook her head.
Several painful moments later, after she twisted and turned my leg in all sorts of directions it didn’t want to go, she had a diagnosis.
“Something is really wrong in there,” she said. “I’m thinking you’ve got some torn meniscus floating around. You, young lady, are going to see an orthopedist.”
I groaned. That was not in my Thanksgiving weekend plans (but at least she called me a “young” lady).
Then she ordered me to stay off the thing entirely. Made me get crutches and everything.
I hate crutches.
Still, I’m using them. And forcing myself to stay put on the couch as much as possible.
But at least I didn’t dislocate the damn thing entirely. And for that? I’m grateful.