Joint venture

In 1999, while learning to ski, I dislocated my right knee in a fairly dramatic manner. Knees are infuriating things because – once weakened – they are never entirely trustworthy. Then, in late December of 2010, I slipped on a ludicrously friction-free piece of rubber flooring right at the end of a jetway in Heathrow T5, inches away from boarding a flight to Stockholm, and, as if in fear, my right kneecap ran and hid around the back of my leg again.

For the whole of 2011, I could feel that my abused right knee wasn’t meshing properly, so I did some reading into methods for strengthening the joint, allowing for the fact that the anterior cruciate ligament is stretched all to hell. Rule number one was: plenty of exercise. Rule number two was: no high impact exercise. So that rules out jogging and running entirely, and makes even walking a bit questionable.

Many sources recommended elliptical cross-trainers as a good way to build up the damaged joint without any significant impact, and at the same time provide a good whole-body cardio workout – just what a fat sedentary bastard like me needs! So I bought one, at considerable expense.

It took a long time for it to be delivered. I ordered just before Chinese New Year, and the shop forgot to send the order to the delivery people, and then I was travelling….. but some six weeks after I handed over the money, I was the proud possessor of my own computerised elliptical cross-trainer.

On Thursday morning, ready for work, I went to throw away the huge slab of cardboard that the cross-trainer was packed in. The floor in the corridor outside my front door was soaking with condensation (it was the first day of spring; the humidity had leapt to about 100% overnight). I was wearing Rockport shoes. I slipped, went down like a fat sedentary bastard, and sent my kneecap scurrying for safety again. If I hadn’t bought the cross-trainer, I’d still be walking.

The hospital authority did good work, and the A&E staff at Princess Margaret were more than a little amused that I’d turned up with my own crutches (I knew I’d be using those again). The A&E doctor listened to my tale of multiple medial dislocations, caused by the smallest forces, and demonstrated the depth and sophistication of his training by telling me, “It’s not supposed to do that”. Then he made me an appointment with a specialist, who may consider opening things up and seeing if there are any bolts that can be tightened.

So here’s what I was supposed to be doing right now: I should be about half way to San Francisco, snoozing in an extra-legroom economy seat with a bellyful of red wine, on my way to the SF Security B-Sides conference for two days of talks, social networking, and catching up with old chums.

Since I was declared “not fit for air travel”, here’s what I am actually doing: trying to find somewhere comfortable to put my leg. Which apart from the swollen soccer-ball knee joint, also has a $2 coin-sized crater in it because the largest knee-brace the hospital had was a little on the small side. And because I couldn’t get out to the shops, I ordered a pizza, which has given me food poisoning. The elliptical cross-trainer is looming behind me, and I can hear it laughing quietly to itself.

Can’t complain, though. Irene the physiotherapist at PMH is cute as a button, and I have a follow-up appointment next week.