I heard a story once about a professional footballer who, during a game, got heavily tackled by an opponent. He heard something crack and panicked, thinking that he had been very badly injured. As he lay there howling, the physios sprinted on and cut off his socks to see that he was entirely uninjured and it was just his shinguard that had snapped. How embarrassing!
What happened to me yesterday while playing footy was a little bit different. When I heard something snap, there was no-one anywhere near me, and I wasn't wearing shinguards. I had just landed very bizarrely on my right knee and felt something shift in a very unpleasant way, like a tent pole sliding momentarily out of its socket with a hollow, gravelly crack, before slotting back into position.
So I panicked. Pain, like love or wisdom, is hard to quantify. In terms of pure physical sensations, it certainly broke some records. As I lay there swearing as loudly as I could (and my sincere apologies to the Kindergarten right beside the pitch), I realised I was pulling my own hair in an effort to displace the discomfort. Next Sunday's half-marathon is out. Next month's in Stockholm too. Probably the three others in October and November too. I roared again.
X-rays showed there was no damage to any of the bones, but the knee being the most complex joint in the human body, feeling relief at that news would be quite disingenuous.
Today I hobbled sweatily to a orthopaedic doc, who wrestled briefly with my stricken limb and seemed content at some movements and less so at others. And mentioned the possibility of surgery. There was talk of an injury to the meniscus. From my reading about it, it can take 2-3 months to even be able to walk properly again, never mind run. This is due to the poor blood supply to the area, which hinders healing. One of its main function is to absorb friction, so it's pretty important for running.
I'm having an MRI on Saturday afternoon to find out for sure what's up, and have banned myself from reading and speculating any more on the topic. Doing so just petrifies me. I can't image life without running. I struggle a great deal with unclear situations - my desire to immediately combat every problem as quickly as possible results in enormous frustration when taking action has to wait.
Of course, there's also the possibility that it's really a lot less serious than I think. Perhaps it's stupid to ask doctors about best-case scenarios, but that's what I've been doing. It could mean only three weeks of rest. I'm a hopeless optimist, but even I can't believe that. It really feels like a fucking bomb exploded inside my knee, even now, over 24 hours later.
One good thing is that my health insurance is finally going to have to start paying for something, after years and years of sucking money out of me with impunity. The bad news is that they'll only pay for the ambulance if the injury turns out to be really bad. If I'm not crippled, I'll have a bill of about €1000 for a five-minute journey. Which sucks. A lot.
Oh well. I'm sure there's something to be learned from all of this. At least I'll have plenty of time over the next weeks to figure out what exactly it is.