This is the second in a brief series of posts. The first post is here.
It is March, 2016 and I am standing at the finish line of the Fitbit Paris Half Marathon. It is cold, and windy, and as with every finish, my feet are hot, so I strip off my shoes. I have run the whole race without stopping once because some primal part of my brain has said Do not stop; keep going till the end.
I know at the finish line that this is not my Triumphant Return to Running after my 2014 hip reconstruction and my 2015 knee reconstruction. I know that Something is Not Right, but I cannot yet put my finger on what. I fumble in my waistpack for paracetamol with codeine, and I gobble it greedily. I drag myself back to the hotel, where I order ice and Pringles from Room Service, and fill the bathtub with cool water and ice cubes, lowering myself into it like a professional athlete. Then I watch shitty movies on my iPad and eat Pringles in a questionable hotel bathtub.
I am able to make it through the weekend and arrive back to New York. Days later, I am standing in paper shorts in my hip surgeon’s office when he knocks to enter the exam room, his entourage of physician’s assistant; student fellow; nurse in tow. He is one of the best orthopaedic surgeons in the world – his patients are typically professional athletes. He’s also a really nice guy with a good bedside manner. I’m still not sure how I got so lucky to get on his roster.
He begins to talk to me about my right hip, and how great it looks on the x-ray I’ve just had, when I interrupt.
No, I say, I mean, yes. It does look great. But I am here for the left side.
He frowns. Okay, let’s take a look.
With labral tears, femoroacetabular impingements, and certain other impairments/ injuries of the hip, a doctor will rotate your joint around and push it this way and that to see if you have the injury before ordering a scan to confirm. The manipulation feels excruciating.
The surgeon looks disappointed – his goal for me was a complete recovery. I know that I am a typically fun patient because I am motivated, and I follow instructions. I am disappointed; I am a Bad Statistic now. He orders an MRI, but we all already know that I will be splayed on an operating table sooner than later.
The MRI results come back quickly, and the surgeon’s nurse practitioner calls me to tell me that they have a variety of areas of concern. They have compared this scan to the one they took in 2013, and it seems impossible for me to have injured myself so badly when I have spent the better part of three years in sports rehab. The bone marrow edema is significant; the tear in the cartilage is obvious; there is an impingement; so on and so forth. Before they can do anything else, before surgery can even be an option, I am given a list of specialists I need to consult.
This is March.
I do not say much about this to anyone, because people tend to think that People Who Run are to blame for everything that happens to them. When I slipped and fell in August and had to have my knee emergently reconstructed, a bunch of probably well-meaning friends and family sent me messages telling me that this was God/The Universe’s way to say Don’t Run Any More!
I wondered, then, if I had been hit by a car if those same people would tell me that it had been God’s way of letting me know I shouldn’t walk outside alone anymore. As if I should be personally responsible for every possible contingency resulting from my mere existence or participation in society or recreation.
(But I am also related to a lot of rightwingers and Bootstrappers; I have dated more Eagle Scouts than even your average Mormon, so I do wonder if I it is partly the company I keep.)
As the weeks tick by, I see specialist after specialist, each of whom takes my blood and asks me questions. One doctor thinks I have blood cancer. Another doctor thinks that this is the legacy of a previous bout with an eating disorder. Nobody has answers.
I am sent for a DEXA scan, and I am asked to track down the DEXA scan I had performed on me in 2008. I call NYU Hospital and ask them to sift through Hurricane Sandy-affected records under my old-married name to find out whether I can have the test done on the same equipment. This feels weirder than it should – saying my old name; digging through old files; looking at old diagnoses.
It feels almost like we are talking about a dead person – this Sick Woman; this anorexic; this woman who couldn’t hack it in BigLaw; this Woman who was Married to Andrew; who loved Frederic; who couldn’t Recover. I am not That Woman.
In the midst of This March, it is Frederic’s Birthday. I text him, because I have wished him a Happy Birthday by some sort of message since before Texting Was a Thing – it is reflexive. I could never help myself where Freddy was concerned. Thank you, he says, Of course you remembered. I feel a need to reconnect with you. We should make lunch happen.
He had relapsed; he is sober again. I had appreciated his honesty in telling me, but now I am left to wonder if the whole rekindling of our friendship; our business relationship (which took place during his relapse) was a lie. It is the Same as it Ever Was, except the promised lunch will never happen.
I have the new DEXA scan. This time, they scan my wrist, too, for good measure, and they have forgotten to tell me to take my Love bracelet off. They look irritated with me when I ask if they have a screwdriver. They push the bracelet up my arm, but the bangle shows in the scan, and I am secretly glad of it, because now I know it is Me in these pictures, and not Her – not the Sick, Dead Girl.
I do not have blood cancer.
It is April.