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Kneedle

I went to see Dr. Lorax again, for the bump on my knee that is still there after all of this time, after six months of physical therapy and a year of ice bags, it’s still there. My god, the movie they were filming up the street is now actually in theatres and yet, this bump, this pain, this liquid starburst of pink and purple lightning bolts when I try to kneel, it’s still as present as it was a month after the incident.

When I left, it was snowing, big fluffy wet flakes that fall into clumps on cars and slide off onto the road with the drama of an unveiling. The roads were glistening black and it was one of those perfect kind of snowfalls, where it only sticks to the pretty parts and turns the rest into a shiny black fashion model runway. And there was the quiet thing that happens when it snows. I suppose that the flakes interrupt the sound waves or something similar that Mr. Wizard could explain, but I prefer to think that the world takes a moment to look around, rediscover how pretty a little precipitation can gild empty trees and bushes into white lace and glittered tulle.

And then I was at the clinic, the one that huddles in the armpit of the hospitals, the same one that I used to visit as a toddler when I suspected that my pediatrician was secretly Mr. Rogers. After Dr. Lorax made me wait for a half hour in an examining room (during which time I made it through the Smithsonian, Better Homes and Gardens, and a limp pre-Jen and Brad breakup issue of People) until he came in and declared that he couldn’t really feel a bump, other than the puffy silver dollar sized one that was staring him in the face. He pressed around, pulled my leg hither and fro, and declared that I had excellent mobility. Then, after discovering the spot that, when pressed, brings tears to my eyes, he then pushed and manipulated that same pea-sized spot, pressing so hard that the vein at his temple popped up, all the while I sat there trying to be strong, trying not to scream, trying to stay casual when I’d say that yes, that hurt, that hurt right there, please don’t do that again, Dr. Lorax.

After he had pushed around on my knee cap for a bit, after I had given up on being strong and dabbed at my eyes with their industrial grade PPO tissue, he changed his tune of “scar tissue blahety blah blah live with it” and suddenly he was talking nerve damage and broken frayed ends reaching out to find their other halves, like earthworms of pain wriggling toward each other, arms outstretch shooting little tweaks and twinges out into the void like some kind of fucked up pain echolocation. Suddenly, he was talking about severed nerves, about shooting cortison and lidocaine with a needle into the spot that he had just spent five minutes tenderizing. Suddenly, he was talking about cortisone eating the fat and causing a dimple scar, a caved-in section like dynamite at a mine collapse, with miners trapped underneath, living high off of drugs and happy gas. Suddenly he was talking about “going in there” if the needle didn’t work.

There should be no If when we speak of needles in one’s knee. What is more, there should be no talk of “going in there” as though one’s kneecap was Omaha Beach and the Germans had the channel guarded by heavy artillery.

And, without a proffered shot of vodka or tequila or, I don’t know, five million dollars, he readied the needle (although, really, it was closer to a large stick you would use to fend off a wild animal, perhaps a wildebeest) and I looked at the limp cover of the ancient People and decided that if Melissa Etheridge could look out at me with quiet strength, I could stop being a baby about the injection. And the lidocaine stung, as it always does, and then about five minutes later, he was able to press down hard onto the flesh muffin and this time, it did not bring tears to my eyes. He felt this was a good sign, that the nerve earthworms were happily gnawing on cortisone and that it was not, I don’t know, an alien about to pop out or something. And that maybe he wouldn’t have to “go in there”, only this time, he reiterated with the word “surgery”, as though I hadn’t understood what he meant the first time and thought he was talking about a forgotten storage closet where there are albino spiders and those little pill bug things that are so icky.

I left the clinic and was unable to take solace in the pretty snowfall. Snow, schmo. I stopped at the Snooty Deli for an overpriced vegetarian sandwich and also a white chocolate cherry cookie, because man, after that crap, I totally deserved a cookie. Then I got back in the car and decided I would see if Esteban were working from his parent’s house, because I would stop by on my way back to work and tell him Happy Valentine’s Day.

I called his cell phone, right as rain, my normal strong self. But as soon as he answered, I lost it completely and couldn’t talk. The whole thing had been sort of overwhelming and frustrating and I was still shaking from the experience and to hear his soft, concerned voice, it was all I could do to drive in a straight line. He was actually out to lunch but then demanded that I meet him at his parent’s house and he would come there immediately. I protested, but he insisted, so I finally acquiesced.

I had recomposed by the time he got there and gave me a hug and made me take ibuprofen and offered me his cheese sandwich and talked to me until I felt less shaky and able to deal with the annoying coworker (who, by the way, sniped “What, did you have an operation or something?” when I got back a whole ninety minutes after I had left). This is the part where normally a smug platitude would go about the true meaning of Valentine’s Day or romance or whatever, and it’s all true (albeit vomitsome). However, if you think he’ll fall asleep tonight without getting some, you’d be very mistaken.

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