Irony, Angst and Self Pity: Recovering from a Quadriceps Tendon Tear

Eight days after surgery to repair my quadriceps tendon. Bilateral symmetry: I don't have it.Of course, one of the most maddening aspects of my quadriceps tendon tear is the implicit irony of it. I think about all of the times I’ve been doing stuff outdoors that could have precipitated such an injury: mountain biking, road cycling, whitewater rafting, trekking and hiking, rock climbing and bouldering. Then I proceed to do it stepping off a bus.

Seriously, Universe? Getting off a bus? What the hell? Why do you mock me, so, Universe? DAMN YOU, WHY!?

To say that I’ve been preoccupied with existential questions surrounding this injury would be an understatement. I suppose that’s natural, though; I’m sure anyone who experiences such an injury must go through this. Why did it happen? Why now? Why me? I actually missed my usual stop and got off at the next one – had I gotten off at my usual stop, would this have happened? Am I, in some Alternative, Trekkian Timeline, still able-bodied Jeff?

Had I been flying down single-track with a steep incline and biffed, leapfrogging over the handlebars in an attempt to avoid eating dirt or slick rock, and blown out that tendon upon landing, then of course, it would make sense. Had I been in some sort of accident whilst cycling on the streets of Sai Gon, or even while on the back of a motorbike taxi – that’s invariably the first thing everyone here thinks: “Were you in a motorbike accident?” – it would make sense.

It would still suck, but it would suck less; there would be reason and meaning. The Universe would still make sense in this instance; life would be comprehensible.

But no. It won’t give me even that little bit of existential salve for my grievous injury.

As I struggle with the new complications of daily life this accident has spawned – the other day it took 10 minutes to get my damn shoes on – I can’t help but dwell on these existential questions sometimes. I try not to; I try not to feel sorry for myself, but at times its unavoidable. And then I get angry at myself for feeling sorry for myself, which only makes it worse, as I observe the treacherous cycle of depression begin, settling on my shoulders like an unwelcome yoke.

I haven’t given into that black beast yet (yes, yet another metaphor) – I refuse to – but I see it out there lurking, circling, waiting for its prey to get tired and give up and give in. After all, this beast has stalked me before. This is where anger sometimes actually helps; I’m too fucking pissed off right now to let this amorphous whatever that I’ve chosen to tag with the moniker of the Universe – Fate? Karma? Destiny? God? Gods? The Man Behind the Curtain? Aliens from Another Dimension? A Cold, Random, and Uncaring Universe? – I’m too pissed off to let it beat me.

Fuck you, Universe. I’ll get through this, you fucker(s). Bring it. Do your worst. I’ll deal. I won’t submit. I refuse to yield.

Wah. What We Wanna Know Is, How Do You Go to the Toilet?

Eight days after surgery for a quad tendon tear. Kinda looks like a baseball that's been left out in the yard too long.But perhaps you are more interested in the more mundane aspects of my orthopedic trials and tribulations, as opposed to the angsty existential aspects. Very well.

So my right leg is encased in a straight-leg brace that I’m required to wear 24-7. I take it off to change the dressing on the surgical incision every 48 hours and sponge down my leg, since I shower with it on (I cover it up with garbage bags and rubber bands). Oh, and I do ice down my knee several times a day; I take it off for this, too.

Occasionally I do take it off to scratch, because it itches. Oh sweet Mother of God it fucking itches sometimes. I might try pantyhose, if I can find them for sale somewhere here in Sai Gon – although I’m not exactly mobile, at the moment.

I’m on crutches too, of course. Good Dr. Phat says I’ll be on the crutches and in the brace for six weeks. If all goes well after two weeks I’ll be able to take the brace off when I’m relaxing with my leg propped up – which is pretty much most of the time.

When I am ambulatory I’m supposed to put no more than 20 percent of my body weight on the bad leg. My physical therapist actually had me stand on two different scales so I could get a feel for what 20 percent was.

To say that all this sucks would be a gross understatement. Simple things one does everyday – getting dressed, going to the bathroom – have now become long and herculean tasks. To be frank, maneuvering so I can use the toilet — my apartment isn’t the most handicapped-friendly place — is akin to docking the space shuttle. It’s a long, slow process that takes lots of minute adjustments. The less said of this, the better, however; I’m sure you’ll agree.

Of course I’m not teaching at the moment. The doc says I shouldn’t return to work until six weeks have passed, and then only part time, but I may try working part time in a few weeks anyway. We’ll see.

What else? Oh yes, of course. “Does it hurt?” Well, it doesn’t tickle, that’s for sure. Doesn’t take much gimping around to set my leg to aching. Fortunately it’s rarely anything that 500mg of acetaminophen can’t handle – no, no good drugs for me. I made it a point to tell the doctor that I didn’t want any pain meds that made me loopy; just seems like a bad idea when you’re on crutches and could risk serious reinjury if you slipped and fell. Thus, I have boxes upon boxes of paracetamol tablets.

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