tuesday: i develop a strange and completely new pain in my upper lateral calf. it feels like a knot.
wednesday: i go to PT and can’t do any bending. the pain is too bad. we try heat, we try stretching – nothing works. if it were muscular, it would loosen up, right?
thursday: the pain is so bad i howl intermittently. i can’t tell what exactly will aggravate it, so i begin to move gingerly, like i did two days after surgery. afraid to do anything, crying and shaking more from apprehension than anything.
friday: back to PT. john says i seem better, or at the very least, in better spirits. we use heat, we massage. extension is great, but i still can’t get all the way around on the bike – which is was doing a week ago. the pain is so bad that i spasm. we force my leg to 115 degrees flexion because we need to, and the pain is excruciating but not from the surgical area at all. it’s all from this mystery spot.
saturday: i have homework for PT: ice and ankle pumps. i wake up at eight, hobble to my freezer. ice for fifteen minutes, one hundred ankle pumps, re-brace. i set my phone alarm for nine, ten, and eleven. this goes on all day: alarm goes off, ice for fifteen, one hundred ankle pumps. i tell myself it’s helping, but the pain is the same.
sunday, 11am: same as saturday. the pain hasn’t subsided. i almost think it’s gotten worse.
sunday, 1pm: when i move the wrong way the pain is so sudden and so bad it makes me shriek and my whole body convulses while i dissolve into tears. i try to go for a walk and only make it halfway down my street.
sunday, 3pm: i give in and call the orthopedic surgeon on call. he rings me back and is blessedly a wonderful guy. i tell him what’s going on, and he tells me i need to go to the ER as soon as i can. there’s a good chance it could be a blood clot, and if it breaks off, it could kill me.
sunday, 4pm: i register at the ER after an 8$ cab ride. i have a 75$ copay. i find myself in a room surprisingly quickly. they take my vitals, skip on the weight since my bionic leg would throw the whole thing off anyway. i relax into a recliner in room 33B, through my zip-up hoodie over me, and wait.
sunday, 5pm: i see the PA. she tells me they’re ordering an ultrasound, but – surprise catch! – on weekends and evenings they only do ultrasounds from the knee up.
“but the pain is in my upper calf.”
“the vascular lab isn’t open on weekends, we can’t check that area. but if you have a clot down there, it’s likely you’ll have on further up, as well.”
“but there’s a chance i have a blood clot and you won’t catch it.”
“i’m going home now. good-bye.”
sunday, 5:10pm: the radiologist convinces me to stay. they’ve already swiped my credit card and i know i’m going to be billed regardless, so i stay.
sunday, 5:30pm: the ultrasound tech shows up with a wheelchair. she is 24 (she tells me this) and is so damn nervous i’m going to fall and break my hip while going from my recliner to the chair – i’m out of my knee brace and can’t bear weight – that she starts to spaz me out. the ultrasound takes about ten minutes and i’m applauded because i’m thin enough that she can compress my vein and artery at the same time. well whoopie for me.
sunday, 5:45pm: the radiologist comes in bursting with excitement that i have no clots. i remind him that the pain is BELOW the area they checked. he tells me that if that is in fact a clot, it will move up in a few days, so i should come back then and make sure, ya know, that it won’t kill me. if it doesn’t in the mean time.
sunday, 6pm: i get my discharge papers, with orders to call my physician on tuesday – tomorrow’s a holiday – and get a referral for the vascular lab, so that they can check my entire leg, and not just the part that’s convenient.
“so you can’t tell me why i’m in so much pain?”
“can you drain some of the fluid in my knee?”
“no, we can’t do that.”
sunday, 6:30pm: i’m home. i call my dad and tell him the results. he tells me the ash tree has shed all of its leaves in the course of one day. i realize that i have spent 83$ and two hours being nothing short of a drain on society. i am in no less pain and am no more informed than i was before my ER trip.
sunday, 6:45pm: i grab my stupid frozen vegetables and ice for fifteen and then do my stupid ankle pumps. i roll over four inches and the pain is so bad i howl and start sobbing. i’ve given up and shut the windows because it’s 90 goddamn degrees, so i can scream all i fucking want.
sunday, 9pm: i’m still shrieking every time i move because it fucking hurts and i’m so sick of being in pain. even though i’m supposed to be getting off pain meds and i don’t think they really help, i take some percocet out of sheer frustration. i don’t know if i can make it through the night, let alone all day tomorrow. i want this to be over.