Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Knee Update 2

Knee update 2: my knee has been getting better slowly, but has still been pretty dicey, so I skipped work yesterday and went to an orthopedic surgeon. He took some x-rays, which I don’t understand much, because they looked just like white insides of knee, and I couldn’t see tendons, ligaments, or shit. But I realize there is a science to reading the subtle shades and fogging and whatnot, so that’s why he’s the doctor and I’m not.

My knee was pretty swelled up, so he offered to remove some fluid. If you’re eating, stop reading this. Seriously. Okay, he got out this giant thing that looked like one of those Ronco Flavor Infusers they sell on TV, for shooting spices and fat inside a pork chop or chicken cutlet. It looked a couple of inches around, and about six deep, so I’m guessing it could hold a good six ounces of fluid. And the business end of it looked like one of the nails you’d use when framing a house, but hollow. First, I put on some roomy disposable hospital blue shorts, which looked like something Urkel would wear to the beach. Then he hit me up with a spray bottle of some kind of super-refrigerant stuff that froze my knee in about two seconds. Then, the prick.

Now, I’m no stranger to needles. As a kid, I had allergy tests, which involved making my back look like that Pinhead guy in the Hellraiser movies. I also got the shots, sometimes as many as four or six skin injections a week. I’m also a frequent flier at the dentist, who admires my ability to take a gram or two of liquid novacaine without flinching. I’ve also had liquid cortizone injections in my big toes to treat gout. That involved getting a smaller novacaine shot first, and then the big horse needle, which the doctor had to drive INTO THE MIDDLE of the joint of a toe that was so inflamed I could not walk, and then when he got it there, he would WIGGLE IT AROUND to distribute the steroid as he pumped it in. So this should be a walk in the park, right?


The guy jabs in the needle in the side of my kneecap, which is pretty tender from being messed up all week, but is also pretty numb from the spray. I could really feel the needle going in. And staying in. And he pulled back the syringe like he was pulling gravy out of the pan to baste an extra-large turkey, and I’m wondering, “when the fuck is my knee going to stop exuding fluid?” And then he GRABS MY KNEECAP AND STARTS MOVING IT AND FUCKING AROUND WITH IT TO GET MORE FLUID OUT.

And then it’s done. And he shows me this giant baster, which contains about three ounces of fluid that’s roughly the color of a hot and sour soup from a Chinese restaurant. Now, I’ve seen some weird shit in the health arena. I’ve seen a video feed of the inside of my intestine. I’ve seen an x-ray video in real-time of me swallowing. I’ve seen a nail go through my hand. I’ve seen a dentist show me my wisdom tooth pulled out in about four pieces. But seeing a bunch of joint fluid that was just in my knee, well that’s a new one.

The knee felt a lot better, and he gave me a new brace to wear that’s pretty hardcore and much more comfortable than the $10 piece of shit I bought at Rite Aid. But there was no real diagnosis yet, awaiting an MRI, which was my big adventure today.

Okay, so I had a 7:30 AM MRI. Yes, in the morning. It was either that, or hobble around for another week, waiting on this shit, so I woke up early and got it over with. The place was on 42nd and 11th, which is sort of Hell’s Kitchen, or at least far enough from Times Square that it isn’t Times Square, and it’s a bitch to catch a cab. So I got over there 10 minutes early, and it turns out some other fucker is running like 40 minutes late, and he keeps moving during his MRI, and I could have slept another hour. Great.

For those of you not up on your medical imaging technology, and MRI is something that uses colossal amounts of magnetic energy to basically determine the atomic makeup of cells and water in your body, which is fed to a computer that then produces an incredibly detailed image of the target in question. It looks like the dream implant machines in Total Recall, except even more Sci-Fi and Philip Dick-ian. There’s no radiation, but if you have any metal in your body, like a pacemaker or something, it could become a fatal projectile.

The other problem with an MRI is that you have to be completely still, and it can take like 45 minutes to get a scan. I didn’t know this; I thought it was like an x-ray where you got in there, click, and that’s it. Unfortunately, this meant I had to stand in it for 45 minutes, which sucked. It also meant I had to watch 45 minutes of Olympics coverage, and I absolutely hate the Olympics. I hate the trivial bullshit morning coverage even more, the kind of shit where they go to see where the athletes shop and whip up recipies of Italian food, like we give a fuck. Anyway, the machine looked very cool. It was one of the stand-up MRIs, which looks like this. You stand up, and then a tray tilts you back, but it’s more open-air than the old tube style ones. So I sat in that for 45 minutes, wondering if I was moving or not, since my whole leg was stiffening up, and then it was done, and I went to work.

So bottom line is, the knee continues to get better. I can pretty much walk with no cane, but I used it today anyway. I go back tomorrow to find out the news on the MRI, and I’m not saying anything definitive until then, but I think it’s going to be okay in a few more days or a week or something.

Not much else is up. I got a new load of books to read (right after spending four days in bed with nothing to read, of course.) Oh, and John Sheppard has set up Smalltownpunk.com for his upcoming book (re)release, so go check that out.