I’ll never be the Bee’s Knees. My shot at that particular title was taken away at the age of 15 by a scissor happy surgeon, who tried to cut my chronic knee pain away. I hope that the half hour that it took him to perform the operation bought him a really nice vacation. I on the other hand, did not get to go to Hawaii; instead I got years of rehab, bullying and shitty pick up lines.
During the four years following my surgery, I was in and out of various braces. Some guys seemed to think that this would make it easier to get into my pants. I never quite followed the logic–it’s just one more layer to remove.
A while back, I was feeling rather proud of myself. Using the method that my physios had taught me, I made it down the Metro steps to my train relatively smoothly. I mentally chanted, “Down with the bad (leg) and up with the good!” No one had bumped, pushed or yelled at me for being too slow. The train was delayed and a guy approached me asking for the time. I gave it to him but he didn’t leave. We stood in silence, the noise of the station whirling around us.
“I just want to say that I’m really sorry,” he finally announced.
“About?” I prompted, seriously confused.
He pointed to my knee brace, his features arranged in an expression of sorrow.
“It’s fine, just an old injury,” I said.
“Well, I’m really sorry. Can I give you a hug?”
“Nope,” I replied, searching his face for some indication that he was joking. He was dead serious.
“Are you sure? I’m just so sorry,” he repeated, pointing once again at my leg.
“I’m sure,” I answered. The train finally came, He opened his mouth to speak and I braced myself (haha get it?) ready to reject more offers of hugs.
To my relief all he said was, “Stay Beautiful” before departing.
And then there was work. As I hobbled up the steps, my attention would be divided between various people telling me to take the “damn elevator every once in awhile,” and the security guard pointing at my brace and asking me what had happened. I ignored both categories, telling the security guard, “Sorry but I’m kind of in a rush.”
He was persistent though, a broken record chanting “What happened to your leg?” day after day. I finally answered the damn question just so that I wouldn’t have to hear it again.
“It’s just an old injury,” I informed him.
“But what happened?” he insisted.
“I had a failed knee surgery a couple of years ago,” I explained before turning to leave.
“I’m gonna tell you what you have to do. You just have to keep moving it and don’t worry, you’ll be walking like a normal person in no time!” he beamed as if he had just bestowed upon me some golden nugget of wisdom.
I managed to choke out an “ummm thanks” without laughing, my thoughts still swirling around “normal person”.
“And I’m gonna tell you something else,” he continued, “I know what you’re going through. I understand! I hurt my shoulder a while back and couldn’t go to the gym for 4 months. I’m gonna be honest with you, I cried! So just hang in there.”
I smiled politely thinking how nice it was that I didn’t have to feel sorry for myself when I had a whole line of boys willing to do it for me.
Around the time of my encounter with the security guard, I had been working with a really amazing physio, apparently the 5th round is the charm, and a few months later I got my brace off.
Once again at work, I was heading down the stairs, this time in a “normal” fashion, albeit garnished with limping and leaning heavily on the rail. At the bottom the security guard held the door open for me.
“Soon,” he began.
“Have a good weekend!” I cut in, not quite ready for another heart to heart.
“Soon” he continued, “Someday soon, I’ll see you using both those legs.”
I smirked, pretty sure that the two of us had very different visions for my legs.
About a year ago my vision for my legs was actually realized. I haven’t had to wear a brace and I’ve been able to do stairs pretty much normally, something that I thought I would never accomplish. And yet some things never really change. When these improvements first fell into place an acquaintance of mine told me, “That’s great, now it’s like an invisible disability.” But the invisible is still there and has a way of making itself known. Like when you’re on a date with a boy and for some reason he’s taking you on a walk through the Gay Village. Why are you on a date in the Gay Village? Is he trying to tell you something? And then he says something stupid, like “Race you to that pole!”
“I can’t run,” you reply.
“What?” he exclaims.
“I have a bad knee so I can’t run,” you clarify.
“Ever?” he gasps.
“Ever!” You confirm cheerfully. The two of you are still walking but he turns his head to stare at you bug eyed and jaw slightly agape. Why did you think he was cute again? The seconds tick by. His feet are moving but his head hasn’t changed position. The pole gets closer and closer. Half of you is afraid that he’ll run into it, but the other half really wishes that he would.