This is a cute picture of Tigger, and she’s a wonderful dog, but boy has she caused some trouble in her time. A few years back she managed to cut her ear on a sharp piece of chain-link fence at the bottom of our yard, and that resulted in $25,000 worth of surgery, 10 weeks of life in a plaster cast, and 3 agonizing weeks of physical therapy. Not for her, mind you; for me.
From the driveway, one enters our house into a playroom (originally planned as the carport, but the house was one of the models, so the space was turned into a sales office). The next room is the family room, where the principal amount of living is done. There was a sliding glass door between the family room and the kitchen, rarely if ever shut. On this night, however, we had called the vet because the dog was bleeding from the cut ear, and, since she recognized his van, we’d shut the door to give her only two rooms in which to hide. All well and good, but. . .the ear was hurting her, and she began to shake her head violently, spraying blood all over the carpet as she did so. Not wanting to have a permanently bloodstained carpet, I went out to the kitchen for a damp paper towel. I did so at full speed.
I hit the (closed) glass door with my forehead (I later discovered a huge scratch across one lens of my glasses; I can only imagine what might have happened to my eye had I not been wearing them). The glass in this door was not the newer safety glass; this was the old plate style. It did not shatter into thousands of little shards, as the newer stuff reputedly does. It broke into several large pieces, one of which came down from above directly onto my right leg just below the knee. It completely severed my patellar tendon.
I fell down across the door jamb in a pile of glass and a pool of blood. Just at that moment, the vet arrived, and this is where it started to become funny. Here’s the poor animal doctor arriving on an emergency house call at 9:00 pm, expecting to find a dog with a cut ear, and instead he sees a human lying half-in and half-out of a doorway in obvious distress. He took one look and asked me where he could find a belt to be used as a tourniquet. When I’d directed him towards the back room to get one, he came back, tied off my leg, and then picked up the telephone to call 911. He got through to the EMS people, but then had to ask me for the street address of the house and the other pertinent details so the ambulance would know where to come. Apparently I was pretty lucid; they got to the house in a hurry. As they put me on the gurney I started yelling to find my wallet with the insurance card; evidently the horror stories about “no treatment without insurance” had stayed with me.
Fortunately for me, the nearest emergency room was (and still is) right at the bottom of our hill, so it took very little time for me to arrive there. While that was going on, my mother called my sister and brother-in-law, who lived only one hill over from us. My sister then drove my mother to the hospital, while my poor brother-in-law got the lovely chore of having to pick up the glass and mop up the blood, all the while calming my two very young nieces, who had come with him to our house.
Surgery was obviously needed to repair my tendon, but I’d had about a six-pack of beer prior to all this, and the hospital people felt that the combination of anesthesia and the beer would not be a good idea; thus I was “stabilized” overnight. The surgery was performed the following day; they put a long wire into the kneecap and re-hooked the tendon into the wire, put me into a flexible leg brace, and sent me home.
Unfortunately, neither the doctor nor I realized that my habit of sitting on a straight-backed chair in the evenings was not the best idea for someone whose leg didn’t bend. At some point during that evening, I slipped off the chair and re-separated the tendon. There was no pain, and I didn’t realize I’d reinjured it, so I just got back into the chair and thought nothing of it. However, the following morning there was plenty of evidence that it had been hurt again, so off I went to the hospital for yet another round of exactly the same surgery that had been performed the day before. This time the doctor didn’t trust me; he put me into an ankle-to-hip cast, which I kept on for the next 10 weeks. (The dog was luckier; she had some stitches in her ear and was home the next day).
The first shower one takes after a cast is removed is unquestionably the best shower/bath of one’s lifetime; even the pain of riding an exercise bicycle to recover range of motion in the knee was tolerable, knowing that a shower afterwards was imminent.
The knee is still stiff, and the wire broke into at least four pieces (I’ve seen them on X-rays), but I have full motion. I was never much of a threat in the 40-yard dash anyway. All of this because of that cute dog’s cut ear!