I had Monday off work as holiday, primarily because Sunday was my birthday, and I intended to go out at about 8am on my bike for a reasonably intense (for me) solo ride up to and beyond Pinhoe, Broadclyst, and maybe out to the tiny hamlet (is it even a hamlet?) of Aunk and back down past the airport and home. 90 minutes to two hours should have seen me do somewhere between 20 and 30 miles, I’d have a shower, Emma would be up, we’d go for tea and cake on Cathedral Green, and then to Dawlish for a barbecue at Em’s parents’ house.
My bike was in the hall, and after eating breakfast I nipped downstairs to get my water bottle from it so I could fill it up for the ride. As I walked towards my bike, my left knee very suddenly and quite completely collapsed underneath me, and I felt the familiar hollow ache and thrum of twisted… something. Something internal. Ligaments, perhaps. Alongside the ache (it’s not a pain, per se, not like a badly sprained ankle or a broken arm or a savage graze or a gum infection or a headwound, all of which I’ve experienced as contrast) came the familiar rush of mental / emotional dread: what if it’s serious this time? What if this never stops happening?
Because I’ve twisted my knee before, on several occasions, and though it’s always got better I’m aware that there must be something wrong for it to keep happening. The first occasion was when I was 17; dancing in a nightclub, very drunk but my momentum sweating the booze out of my pores and keeping me going, my left foot stayed still while my body twisted and my knee collapsed. I spent the next couple of hours not moving, not sweating, the alcohol winning, numbing the pain in my leg but destroying my ability to think. It went from being a great evening to being a bloody awful one. I had to walk with a stick for the next few days, like an old man.
The occasions since then have all been football’s fault; tackles, turns, twists, collisions of one form or another. Each time I’ve strapped up and suffered for a few days, limped around, not played again for a fortnight, and then gone back and been OK. For a while: sometimes only a couple of weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years. Once or twice I’ve visited the minor injuries unit in Dawlish and they’ve told me to rest, compress, etcetera, which is what I was doing anyway.
I’ve not played much football in the last four years or so, but I have played a couple of times in the last few weeks. These days when I play I always strap my knee up in advance, in self-defence, and it seems to have worked.
Twisting your knee while drunk and dancing, or while playing football, is OK, just about. It might suggest a slight weakness but it’s not a problem, is it? Twisting your knee while simply walking around your house, though, having it collapse underneath you, is another thing altogether. I think I need to go and see a doctor, and get referred to a physiotherapist, or maybe the hospital. My mum, who trained as a PE teacher, tore her cruciate ligament over 40 years ago, and has suffered ever since; she swims every day to keep it at bay. 40 years ago they didn’t have keyhole surgery, and so she has a comedy horror-film scar on her left knee; a white line with a row of dots on either side, like a child might draw on his face for Halloween.
This post is me saying that I’m going to book a doctor’s appointment for next week. I don’t want to not be able to cycle to Aunk when I fancy it.