Subluxation, 16 Emotions


Then the boy saw all—
He saw all spoiled.*


Saturday evening, family room. Standing up too quickly from a chair, I twisted the wrong way.

Pop. Pain. Confusion. Fear. Shock. Panic. Something’s not right. Something in my knee is not where it should be. Pain. Fear. Shock. Shit. What happened? Where is my kneecap going? Can’t stand. Can’t walk. Please stop. Please return to where you’re supposed to be. I’ll stop running if you stop sliding. I just want to be able to walk and to not worry about this and to not have Scott say, “something looks like it’s sticking out wrong.” Oh god, I’m going to bed.


believe us, they say
it is a serious thing
to be alive
on this fresh morning
in a broken world.


Scott picked up some crutches for me at the store this morning. I’m 43 and I’ve never used crutches before. Never had a broken leg or foot or sprained knee.

A crutch is defined in 2 main ways: 1. as a literal object that you brace under your armpit to help you walk and 2. as a metaphor for an unhealthy dependence on something you use to deal with a problem. What’s wrong with a crutch? Why is the metaphorical meaning so negative? Does it reflect a disdain for vulnerability and an over-emphasis on self-reliance?


It is time, now, I said
for the deepening and the quieting of the spirt
among the flux of happenings.


Sitting. Icing my knee. Avoiding stairs. Restless.

My mom was restless too. When her cancer came back, she would pace around the house. Walking in circles for hours. When she started using a walker, one of us would follow behind her, making sure she didn’t fall. When she couldn’t walk anymore, when she couldn’t really move, she would chew gum. Lots of gum.

A stiff knee. A restless spirit. A stalled imagination.


Tell me about despair, yours, and I’ll tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.


First shock. In crisis mode. Then elation. No more pain. Then wonder. I can walk a few steps! Now boredom. Over it. Over icing. Over resting. Over not walking, not running, not training for the marathon.


not for your sake
not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude


A graceless gait. A lack of grace. Awkward. Clumsy. Forced. Inelegant. Rough. Ungainly. Walked 3 graceless blocks.

In gratitude:
today I walked 3 blocks.
3 graceless blocks.
that’s about 2 more blocks,
than I could walk yesterday
and 2 3/4 more blocks 
than the day before that
and the day before that,
the day when my knee firmly decided
that walking was not happening?
3 more blocks than that day.
oh, these simple accomplishments!
so satisfying when noticed,
so taken for granted when ignored.
today, I noticed.
how could I not?


About tomorrow, who knows anything


Discovered while sitting on the ground with my legs extended that I can easily lift my straightened left leg, but my right one refuses. It will not lift. And when I grab my right foot to raise it, it hurts. This seems bad.


you will come to such sights colder


Panic. Googled “knee injury can’t lift leg straight” and not being able to do this seems to be a bad sign. Fractured patella? Quadricep Tendon Rupture?

Rupture: 1. open hostility or war, 2. tearing apart of a tissue, 3. sudden split, burst, complete break. Open hostility between mind and body. A battle between fear of what might be and a desire to stay calm and not worry until I actually need to. A ripping and shredding of the tendon and the possibility that I can race the triathlon with my daughter on Sunday. A bursting of a marathon bubble?


do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.


It’s a rupture.
It’s a tear.
No, it’s neither.
Something worse?
Something better?

Is every step I take doing irreversible damage to my knee or my quad? Thanks google and all of your “helpful” search results. Is there a word or a phrase for the hypochondria that is fueled by looking up conditions on google? Decided to copy that last sentence and paste it into the google search box. It’s cyberchondria. Wikipedia defines it as: “the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomology based on review of search results and literature online.”

Texted friend who is a doctor. Was reassured. Don’t need to visit the ER, just a doctor, next week.


How dreary—to be—Somebody!
to be good
to have to walk!

Resignation and Regret.

Today is the triathlon, the one that my 11 year old daughter and I were supposed to do together. The one that would have started a tradition of racing and training together. I can’t run. I can barely swim. It hurts to dismount my bike. We’re not racing.


time again
for the deepening and quieting of the spirit.

Restlessness, revisited.

3 days until my doctor’s appointment.

Right now, I have too much
Sitting still is so hard. I
Twitch my
Left leg, the non-injured one, repeatedly.
Every part of my body wants to move. I want to jump out of my
Skin! Who can just
Sit in a chair without moving?


think of your life,
getting better and better.


Am I getting better? Is my knee healing? Will I be able to run soon? Will I be able to swim across the lake, at least one more time, before the end of open swim season? I hope so.


Can you imagine?
Surely you can’t


Questions I’d like answered by my doctor, my body or both:

  • When can I start running again?
  • When can I start walking for more than a few blocks again?
  • When will I be able to swim again?
  • When will I be able to be outside again?
  • When can I walk my dog again?
  • When will I be able to stop reminding myself, every time that I get up from a chair or the couch: “nice and slow, Sara”?
  • When will I be able to write about more than injury or how stiff my leg is or how I failed the straight leg test again or about how long it’s been since I ran?
  • Is there any possibility, that if I walked most of it, that I could still do the marathon on Oct 1?


I have a sliver and my heart is—what?
What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is…Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!


Doctor’s appointment. What I remember: the doctor was wearing a fancy suit and a whole lot of confidence. He knew right away what was wrong. Friendly, but not to my knee. I think he might have popped the kneecap out and back in just to see if he could. Although he might have just been putting it back into its track. Told me I could run again, but to expect pain. Told me he doesn’t advocate giving me a cortisone shot, but would do it for my training, if requested. No thanks. Told me that my biggest problem was fear of further pain and my brain’s refusal to tell my quad to move. And told me: “I’m not recommending that you go to physical therapy, I’m requiring it. You’ve got a lot of work to do.” Got a knee brace to wear all the time.

Took Delia the dog on 2 walks.
Swam almost a mile.
Walked up and down the steps at full speed, and without bracing myself on the railing.


My hip hurts when I move my chin
my belly button’s caving in.
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
my ‘pendix pains each time it rains.


Ran 3 miles. First mile: Ouch. Second mile: This isn’t too bad. Third mile: I can do this! Six hours after those three miles: Ouch. Limp. Shit.


As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them,
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together

and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.


My sore knee is conspiring with my brain to make walking difficult. I’m limping. My knee is swollen. And my quad won’t work. How does one walk? I’ve forgotten. Intellectually, I know. A few months ago, I studied the biomechanics of walking in anticipation of such forgetfulness. You need a straight leg and a straight knee and contact with the ground. But that isn’t helping. I want to remember. I’m trying.


It could mean something.
it could mean everything.


Some things I learned today at my physical therapy appointment:

  • I have a high tolerance for pain, according to my therapist.
  • I am particularly proud of the fact that I have a high tolerance for pain and I’m not totally sure why or if I should be proud.
  • I have an extra bony anatomy which makes me prone to subluxation of the kneecap.
  • My kneecap will probably be partially and temporarily dislocated again. And maybe again after that.
  • My first injury almost 2 years ago, was probably not the result of a bone spur, but a subluxation.
  • I should not run for the rest of the week.
  • I should not run through pain, even though my doctor told me I should.
  • My doctor and physical therapist have very different approaches.
  • My kneecap is pissed off at me right now. Strangely, I am not pissed at my kneecap. I’m not sure what I feel towards my kneecap. Concern? Love? Acceptance?
  • It typically takes about a month to recover from a subluxation of the kneecap. Right now, I’m at two and a half weeks. If I have to wait a full month to run again, that would be September 4th, just four weeks before the marathon.

*Each of the italicized poetic lines comes from one of the poems that I memorized while recovering from this injury.


  1. “Out, Out—” Robert Frost
  2. “Invitation” Mary Oliver
  3. “Swimming, One Day in August” Mary Oliver
  4. “Wild Geese” Mary Oliver
  5. “Invitation” Mary Oliver
  6. “Swimming, One Day in August” Mary Oliver
  7. “Spring and Fall” Gerard Manly Hopkins
  8. “Invitation” Mary Oliver
  9. “Nobody” Emily Dickinson and “Wild Geese” Mary Oliver
  10. “Swimming, One Day in August” Mary Oliver
  11. “Auto-lullaby” Franz Wright
  12. “Can You Imagine?” Mary Oliver
  13. “Sick” Shel Silverstein
  14. “Sick” Shel Silverstein
  15. “The Meadow” Marie Howe