is there a worse feeling in all the world than self-pity?
it's corrosive and induces misery. it close worlds down, eviscerating all that's good and emphasizing everything bad. it distorts narratives so that every little event in the past leads directly to the grim present you should have seen coming. it makes you use phrases like "in all the world."
i've been treating my knee as per last week's diagnosis, as a sprain, but it's not getting better. in fact, it's getting worse. so today i saw a sports medicine doctor, and he was able to narrow the diagnosis a little more. it's almost certainly not ACL. it's almost certainly a meniscal injury. specifically, the meniscus has a tear. or a bruise. or a snag, or a lesion. we'll know more in a few weeks, hopefully. but maybe not. a meniscal bruise or lesion can take months to settle. a meniscal tear can be repaired surgically, except when it can't.
meanwhile, it just hurts. it hurts when i walk and it hurts when i sit. it wakes me at night. it's worse when i use it, for instance walking to the bathroom. it hurts to drive. i find it takes a lot of energy to manage the pain. i can feel the rest of my body starting to adapt. my hips are out of whack and my lower back aches. so i go to yoga, try to modify the poses, but bearing weight of any kind only makes my knee hurt more. the new idea is to give it a good rest -- "but keep it moving." whatever that means.
if i were a better person, i would greet my knee injury with zen equanimity. more, i would take it as a gift: the gift of time, an opportunity for contemplation. i would see the big picture.
as it turns out, however, i am not that person. i do not see the forest, i see the trees. i see the centimetre i took off my waist coming right back on and bringing its fat friends, too. i see the end of soccer. the end of running. immobility. long periods of sedentary depression punctuated by jags of sharp self-pity. old age. death.
what would i think about, if i were a better person? first of all, i'd differentiate injury from illness. from there i'd extrapolate, drawing distinctions between a temporary setback and permanently curtailing my lifestyle. i'd reflect on my great good luck to be middle-class and university-affiliated, with access to orthopedic surgeons. i'd wonder how many homeless people suffer joint ailments: probably a lot, when you think about it, yet such injuries probably never even surface as significant, given all the other pressing concerns faced by homeless people. is there anything more fortunate than to suffer a torn meniscus?
it's not like i didn't try to be that person. i sat on the stairs to SUB and rallied. i tried to reframe all of this positively. won't i love the river valley even more when i get back to it? isn't it great that my ACL is well? isn't anthroscopic surgery marvelous? i wonder what lessons are in store for me: will i learn something karmic or character-building from this?
and then a bird shat on my head.