Fragile egg, cracked but not broken open. Hard concrete. Green grass that might have been a cushion but wasn’t. I select the picture, a recent one, not sure where it will take me, and list what I see. Then I know this piece is about my sprained knee—approximately 7:45 p.m. on Monday, April 19. Never let it be said that it didn’t make an impression on me.

My left big toe got stuck as I was transferring back into my power wheelchair. The chair and I—everything but my foot—were moving away from where I had been sitting. In those few seconds before the brain could interpret the knee’s pain as a direct order to remove my hand from the chair’s joy stick, my foot was pulled to the right side at about a 30 degree angle. And it hurt. It hurt bad, and all I could think was “gravel,” imagining as I did that the bones in my kneecap were being pulverized. (I fracture easily.)

911 call, ambulance and emergency personnel, hospital emergency room all night, where I find out that knees are governed by ligaments, which I’ve pulled badly, and that nothing is broken. “It hurts as much as a fracture at first but gets better faster.” I turn down the ER doctor’s offer to put me in a splint, saying I’ll wait for the orthopedic technicians in the morning, who put me in a lightweight full-leg half cast with secure bandages. Picky, me? Damned straight.

And almost two weeks in a rehab hospital, learning to transfer myself with a leg that at first spasms every time I move it, a leg that is clunky and awkward though finally almost pain-free. And that is the easy part.

Then I go home, where I cannot transfer myself onto the toilet with my stiff leg and so must use a slide board to get into and out of bed every single time I have to “use the bathroom” on a bedpan. It is tiring and it is awkward and I basically have to take care of it by myself. My home health aide was required to quit when I went in the hospital because she can’t be paid when I’m not in residence. (It took more than a month to hire a new worker.)

And I was lonely. After the rich “people broth” of the nursing home, having only minimal contact with people made the situation even more difficult. And it was hard, hard as concrete I might have said if asked. But I was only cracked, not broken open, and unlike Humpty Dumpty I was graced to be put together again. Though it felt so far out of reach at the time, I regain a sense of that vibrant green cushion.

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