OK, check it out -- my doctor gave me these pictures~ I think they were taken by the orthoscopic cameras... grody, right? I made 'em real hard to see in these pix, didn't want to inflict the scanned version on any innocents.
This is the "before" shot. Where my bone was supposed to be, there was a red hole!
And here's the "after shot" -- by shoving a bunch of donor-bone "croutons" (I kid you not -- my orthopedist told me) into the tibia, they pushed the plateau up to where it is in the pic below -- a nice white bone shelf for the femur! So, here is a successful surgery:
Ick, right? It's pretty cool though. On the X-rays you can also see a great big piece of hardware holding the plateau up. BIONIC KNEE!
Surgery itself was an extremely intense experience, shot through with long, boring periods of waiting in bland spaces. Weirdest of all, perhaps, the holding pen with a bunch of freaked-out, dozing people with shower caps lying in gurneys, watching each other with trepidatious, glazed expressions...
The pain was pretty intense and still bothers me sometimes, but mostly my leg just feels like a piece of meat (see above). Now I have a new friend, the Legasus:
My new friend. We spend four hours a day together... it makes me feel like I am flying! I'm serious about the name, by the way!
Here's a couple of chasers from the weekend I spent at my mom's recuperating:
My mom was wonderful to me, convinced me to take naps and washed my hair and cooked enough so that we don't have to cook all week.
"You sort of get glided into a surgery. It's like a strangely costumed ballet on wheels." -- Juliana Francis-Kelly
A week and a half after she got her crutches – got them, like a trophy, after enduring a long and arduous, if slow-moving, emergency-room drama – she was standing by the flowers outside the bodega on 2nd Avenue and 6th Street. Rather, she was balancing there with the crutches tight under her arms, resting her weight right upon the purply bruises she had discerned in the mirror yesterday. Bunches of full-blown peonies, their ragged-tissue glory veined in dark purply-pink, breezed themselves in little dufts in the warm May stormy city evening.
“Dufts,” that was the word she was busy inventing for the little wafty gusty drifts of peony fragrance that found their way into her nose, when she saw another gimp approaching from uptown. With a drawstring purse dangling from his cane-gripping hand, and the other hand grappling with a cell phone. “I’ll call you then,” he was saying, “let me call you later. I’ll call you from home.”
Little bunches of late-Spring pleasure seekers sauntered by, oblivious to the quality of their own jaunty steps, to that extreme, thoughtless ease of ambulation. “I used to be one of them,” she thought, and turned to watch the gimpy guy fumble with his cellphone and try to tuck it away somewhere on his disheveled person. He was rather a large gimp, wearing lots of black, with black sneakers, slightly shiny with thick orthopedic soles, the uppers pulling away from those soles (probably daunted by the demands of their occupation).
She felt for him, hard as it was for him to get down the sidewalk – and then realized that, far from being the kind of quiet observer that she could usually impersonate, she herself was currently a gimpy curiosity in the cabinet of the busy New York sidewalk. She and the gimpy guy exchanged a wry smile, and he gimped slowly on down the way, and she went on smelling the dufts from the peonies. Her husband emerged from the bodega and kissed her on the head. She re-entered the layer of the city that was more familiar to her: a youngish woman with her youngish husband, poor enough and rich enough to live here on the edge, and live here well.
For a moment she had felt herself to be part of another city, the one made of the watchers, the slow-movers, the people on the edge who stand out of the way of the restless momentum on the streets. The people in wheelchairs and with canes who make their way through the city as if the streets were strands of taffy, feet sticking there. Invisible curiosities.
There is another city, the one she sees from her bicycle, in which the walkers are hopelessly slow, and clumsy. In that city, everything stands still as you go through it, and the expressions on walkers’ faces are frozen there because you only pick up one split-second of them, only enough for a snapshot. Perhaps that’s what she and the gimp guy look like to the walkers.
New York has a particular charm in its striations, the way that it is made of millions of simultaneous cities, almost a kind of extradimensionality – when you are a gimp, you are in the gimp city. When you are a biker, you are passing through the solid brick and potholed still city, in the city of the wheels.
There is a knishery on Houston Street, Jonah Schimmel’s. Much of the old character of this city, much of what made its reputation back when – the tenements on the Lower East Side, pickle shops, pizzerias, accordion stores, cobblers – is disappearing, or becoming an imitation of itself. Jonah Schimmel’s is different, and, some believe, is one of the anchors holding the alleged character of New York City in its somewhat tenuous form. If Jonah Schimmel’s were to shut down, the city would become something other than itself, which would of course become itself – but that’s the way of living cities.
Anyway, in Jonah Schimmel’s bakery, they have never removed a coat of paint. No, they have painted over them – and over them, and over them – until the place looks layered, kind of like Queen Elizabeth’s eggshell makeup (with poppy seeds, white lead, borax, and alum), estimated to be an inch thick at the time of her death. The paint at Jonah Schimmel’s is at least an inch – probably 3 – thick. It is one thing from the outside, and many discrete layers within – each layer encasing its own coat of matter, tree-rings of flour and – yes, eggshell, borax, and dust.
She thought of this as her husband kept a modest pace, walking with her, bridging her gimp city and the walking city. She swung herself down the sidewalk.
Following will be a brief disquisition on the state of my knee/tibial plateau. So, if you are tired of hearing about it, stop reading now.
I went to see 2 doctors and 2 lawyers today. They all agree, except on the point of which of them I should retain. I feel like a tasty morsel in the shark tank. The points of agreement: 1. a lawyer will be able to handle the case for me and make the sailing a lot smoother. The case looks pretty good, though a lot hinges on the type of insurance the driver had. 2. My knee definitely needs surgery. The 2 doctors I saw today both said that I would lose normal use of the knee without surgery, because the cartilage has been pushed way down by the force of the femur hitting it during the impact. It would heal, but the joint would render me eternally floppy-legged and knock-kneed. They said that letting the fracture heal on its own would be the treatment for an elderly person who was never planning to do any sports and whose body couldn't really take surgery.
So, it looks like an MRI tomorrow or Friday to check the ligaments, and then surgery next week (Weds or Thurs). I'm going with a knee guy from Mt. Sinai Hospital. He seems passionate about knees and makes silly puns. Wears argyle socks.
1. Flashback to a party, my mother, my sister Amy, and me... many years ago. To see more of Amy (and her daughter Leora Diza) check out their current blog.
2. Update (for family and those who are interested in the minutiae of my tibial plateau fracture)...
Yesterday I had my appointment at the Woodhull Orthopedic Clinic. Man, was it nice to be back in that joint... not. Actually, the clinic's definitely an improvement over the ER, though you would think they might have enough chairs in an orthopedic clinic... Anyway, the doctors are very caring and efficient. They informed me that I have to decide about surgery. I need more opinions.
Tomorrow I have appointments with 2 more orthopedists, one recommended by each of my 2 potential lawyers (after finding someone who seemed perfectly good, I found out that my friend's father is a very reputable personal injury lawyer. I have meetings with both of them tomorrow as well!). Once I have second opinions I will either get a cast, or get surgery and then get a cast. So much for trips to the beach for the next couple of months... I hear that sand in your cast is unpleasant. On the bright side, I expect all of you, gentle readers, to autograph my plaster! I'll be on crutches for 6-8 weeks.
Meanwhile, our lease ends at the end of June, and our landlord has $$$$$$$ in his eyes and wants to raise our rent by over a grand. Boy am I tired of cresting the wave of gentrification! So, Aaron and I are going to go check out some city-funded first-time homebuyers classes & assistance -- and meanwhile try to get Mr. Landlord to extend our lease a couple of months. There is one unit in our current building that's been empty for 2 months now, because they want way too much for it... So cross your fingers for us that we find a sweet little place in Flushing (most diverse place in the entire world, has a Ganesha temple!) to buy, and that we can figure out how to work out all the money stuff.... and that we can stay here till that all works out. I can't imagine trying to pack boxes on crutches -- though I know there are much worse hardships... it is really hard for me to complain about ANY of this considering what people are going through in Burma and elsewhere -- once again I feel the odd ambivalence of being super-lucky and extremely plagued with misadventure... confusing.
Everybody cross your fingers for Obama in Indiana and North Carolina! (Unless you're not an Obama supporter; in which case, call me so I can convince you to be one).
Anybody have copies of Wallace Stevens's essays on insurance? please let me know...
We had a visit from Aaron's dear old friend Joyce today. She did a bit of acupuncture on my leg (and ears and hands!) and we had a lovely visit. The acupuncture did wonders to relax the cramped-up muscles in my leg. Right now Aaron is painting his annual birthday self-portrait.
So, Gentle Readers, you will pardon me, I hope, if I veer into the turbulent, frothy seas of esoterica. I wouldn't (mostly because my spiritual beliefs tend to be private and inchoate), but it's just a bit to strange to go without remarking -- the eeriness of this particular occasion.
For hard facts and updates on our situation, scroll right down to the bottom of this post.
As I turned back today to projects left hanging from before The Day Which Will Live in Infamy (see Tibial Plateau Fracture post, if you don't know what I'm talking about), I found this video I'd been working of, a documentation of the Aries Fire-Lighting contest from the All-Aries birthday party we hosted 2 weeks ago. Our Aries(es) competed to see who could light their birthday cake candles the fastest. In retrospect, I think we might have invoked Aries (also known as Mars) a bit too successfully... So strange to see this after cleaning out smoke damage for a week! Reminds me a bit as well of the Tower card of the Tarot, also associated with Mars:
*** THE TOWER (copied & pasted from someplace online - sorry, but I've lost the address)
Basic Card Symbols
A tower on a rocky outcropping, a powerful bolt of lightning, one or two figures falling from the tower, sometimes waves crashing below.
Basic Tarot Story
As the Fool leaves the throne of the Goat God, he comes upon a Tower, fantastic, magnificent, and familiar. In fact, The Fool, himself, helped build this Tower back when the most important thing to him was making his mark on the world and proving himself better than other men. Inside the Tower, at the top, arrogant men still live, convinced of their rightness. Seeing the Tower again, the Fool feels as if lightning has just flashed across his mind; he thought he'd left that old self behind when he started on this spiritual journey. But he realizes now that he hasn't. He's been seeing himself, like the Tower, like the men inside, as alone and singular and superior, when in fact, he is no such thing. So captured is he by the shock of this insight, that he opens his mouth and releases a SHOUT! And to his astonishment and terror, as if the shout has taken form, a bolt of actual lightning slashes down from the heavens, striking the Tower and sending its residents leaping out into the waters below.
In a moment, it is over. The Tower is rubble, only rocks remaining. Stunned and shaken to the core, the Fool experiences grief, profound fear and disbelief. But also, a strange clarity of vision, as if his inner eye has finally opened. He tore down his resistance to change and sacrifice (Hanged man), then broke free of his fear and preconceptions of death (Death); he dissolved his belief that opposites cannot be merged (Temperance) and shattered the chains of ambition and desire (The Devil). But here and now, he has done what was hardest: destroyed the lies he held about himself. What's left is the bare, absolute truth. On this he can rebuild his soul.
Basic Tarot Meaning
With Mars as its ruling planet, the Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower, as Wang points out, stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." When the Querent gets this card, they can expect to be shaken up, to be blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.
The strange thing is that -- gentle readers, I am ashamed to admit -- I had been in a terrible mood the night before this happened, complaining that I was frustrated with my accomplishments and my perceived failures, feeling that I hadn't done enough (excelling, succeeding) lately. This is a perennial worry of mine and usually strikes when I am already feeling sort of down... it is truly about trying to satisfy worldly & egoistic ideas about measuring up, competing, being something/somebody -- the kind of ambition that lots of artists suffer from, in fact what drives them to make art: a kind of fear that they are not enough in themselves, and have to be recognized as such. Paradoxically, I think it is part of the cycle that makes it very difficult to actually make art, a kind of suffocating expectation which makes it hard to perform.
So I really feel that I have had that flash of awareness described above, and that we are now in a really good position to build something new, based on a foundation of truth.
I have a follow-up appointment at Woodhull's orthopedic clinic Monday morning. They are going to tell me whether I need a cast and look at how the healing has progressed probably tell me how long they think I need to be on the crutches. I also need to seek 2nd opinions.
I think I'll try to get back to work towards the end of next week.
I'm also getting good advice from a friend (Sarah Phillips) who was hit by a car while riding her bike a couple of years ago... she's a veteran and knows a lot about insurance companies and their wily ways!
Aaron's boss Hudson was nice enough to give him a day off yesterday so that he could stay home and get some real cleanup done... Poor Aaron has been working full days, then coming home exhausted only to look after me and try to do clean-up on top of all the chores, etc. Aaron's birthday is tomorrow, so everyone send him happy birthday vibes! Now our place is starting to feel and smell like home again. Many thanks to all of you who came and helped and visited this week. More than anything it is just so sweet to have you around, and lifts the spirits.
can't even lift a bare finger to type. no story, no place in mind. little goblins inside my shin grab and pull at bits of muscle, stretch it all out of sorts and let it twang back to shape again. throb-throb, killer cramped-up shin bone bone knee bone bone bone, drank a cup of milk for luck with this, the knit, the mess, the reaffirmation. Some guy came and took the rug away today, threw it over his shoulder like a body, carried it down the stairs. it will return with that dinner-plate burn but all the same, it's mine after all. closing my eyes i can see again the insignia, the half-covered hubcaps, the thud. my skirt as it fell around me, pulling it down to cover myself, first thought "ground, sky, ground; I am uncovered."