Rim Shot

I knew I had it. I could feel it deep down inside; I could make this 3-pointer. And I did! But, as I shot the wadded up paper towel into the garbage pail we keep on top of a cabinet above the toilet (out of reach of the dogs), I smacked the right side of my right kneecap into the rim of the bowl and ricocheted across the tile floor, dodging the glass shower door by a hair as I felt my patella do the Tarantella.

I did a mental body scan: I was okay. I was upright. I could put weight on my leg which meant I wouldn’t have to hoist myself into the attic to make a withdrawal from our overflowing bank of crutches.

I was in pain, but I didn’t have time to pay any attention to it because I was going to be late for work if I did. So, I wrapped it in one of my favorite ice packs from our impressive collection, and drove to West Ridge in time for my class. I removed the ice pack once the kids began to wander into the art studio so as not to scare them.

After working at West Ridge for the past 9 years, I’ve learned that five-year-olds are incredibly sensitive when someone, especially one of their teachers, is showing any sign of an injury. They never notice if I change my hair color, which I often do, but they fret about the tiniest Band-Aid I might have on my pinky. They get really worried when they see me limping around in one of the fashionable selections from my limited edition orthopedic boot collection, or if I’m wearing a wrist splint, as I was after doing a face-plant at Maggiano’s at our Thanksgiving Family Reunion.

Silly me. I took off the 5-inch-heeled boots I was wearing because I didn’t trust myself not to twist one or both ankles in them, and ended up doing an unintentional Electric Slide onto the floor because, as it turned out, wearing tights without the boots was much more dangerous than wearing the boots. I landed on my hands and my left knee. Besides the albatross of embarrassment I wore throughout the night, my orthopedic doctor said I nearly fractured some kind of important bone at the base of my right thumb requiring a thumb immobilizer/wrist splint. Opposable thumbs really do come in handy, but you don’t tend to realize it until you can’t use one of them. Luckily I’m a lefty, but the splint ran the length of my lower arm, alarming the kids.

The kids aren’t like my coworkers, family, and friends who have grown accustomed to the many accoutrements I have worn with panache over the years. Having grown up in a family of dancers, it is quite normal to be a Klutz. We can be graceful on stage, but can’t cross the street without tripping over our own feet.

The day of the rim shot, I asked a colleague to let my supervisor know I was at work. Walking all the way down the hall to punch in seemed too difficult at the time. My poor supervisor, Julie, who is used to my misadventures in gravity, came in to check on me. She asked me if I had looked at it to see if it was bruised, which I hadn’t. I told her I’d be fine and that I’d check it out later that night at home.

That night I experienced more pain than I had during the day which woke me up several times during the night. It wasn’t all bad – I happened to catch a Styx concert on TV at 3 AM while icing my knee.

The next day my right knee was bruised, larger, and noticeably lumpier than my left knee. I went to work and tried not to trip over a few errant pieces of glitter on the floor. When I got home I called one of my orthopedic doctors who was available to see me the following day. I have two orthopedic doctors on speed-dial. It just makes good sense to know two guys in the business because I’m a frequent flyer.

I was grateful that I was able to see the one I didn’t need to bake brownies for because I didn’t feel a strong urge to stand in the kitchen and bake. I had a stronger urge to put my leg up with my second favorite ice pack for the rest of that evening.

You might be wondering why I have to bring brownies to one of my doctors every time I see him, which is several times a year. Well, it’s because a few years ago I smacked him. I had injured one of my knees and he said, “Does this hurt?” as he dug his finger directly onto the spot that hurt. My natural reaction was to pop him with a right hook to his shoulder. I’m not proud of what I did, and I feel bad even after all these years. Now, when I pay a visit to either of my orthopedic doctors, I sit on my hands during the exam so I don’t throw an involuntary punch.

Anyway, my friend Roberta, who is recovering from knee surgery, told me she’d take me to and from the doctor’s office in case I was put into a splint and unable to drive back home. She’s swell.

And, even though I didn’t have to bring brownies to this doctor, with whom I went to high school, because I haven’t injured him — yet, it was embarrassing to tell him that I hurt my knee by crashing into a toilet.

It was even more embarrassing when he said, “You fell off the toilet?” X-rays showed no real damage, so I was free to limp home next to Roberta who was limping, too.

It has been a week since “the toilet incident” and my knee feels and looks much better. I still occasionally wear the brace when it gets achy, and I’m looking forward to being active again.

Well, I’m off to Heller Nature Center to help give the bees their late winter snack. I’m sure nothing bad will happen. But, if it does, you’ll hear about it in my next blog post.

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