Kapil here. Hope you are doing well and enjoying the chilly, fall weather.
Today’s story starts about 5 years ago. I had finally recovered from plantar fascia injury and had started running once again. I ran a half marathon in Nov 2017, a full marathon in Dec 2017 and another full marathon in Feb 2018. I was enjoying running and feeling like a runner once again. Then, things took an unexpected turn.
Those days, I was working from home on Mishmi Takin. We had not put our then 3-year-old daughter in day care. So, after my wife went off to the office, me and my daughter would be alone in the house. It is a little hard to work with a 3-year-old at home and I did not want both of us staring at screens all day. So, I decided to just shut the laptop and spend the time with my daughter in the outdoors instead. Every day, we would either romp through the neighborhood or head off to the zoo. No screens for either of us.
On a beautiful, sunny, spring day in March 2018, we decided to go to the neighborhood playground. We spent some time on the slides and ran around playing catch me if you can. Next to the playground is a fenced pond ringed by a variety of trees and bushes. We heard a woodpecker loudly pecking on a tree close by and went in search of the woodpecker. We spotted orange lichens on tree barks. As we went around the pond, we came across a Loquat tree that was full of big clusters of ripe, golden yellow fruit. We spent a good amount of time plucking and eating the juicy, delicious fruit. A little further ahead, we came across an orange tree with ripe oranges on it. The oranges were a bit too high up. I tried to get to them with a stick but to no avail.
Feeling a bit flustered, I looked around and saw another orange tree close to the pond, on the other side of the fence. This tree had many ripe oranges on its lower branches. So, I said to my daughter, ‘Come, let us pluck oranges from that tree’. She immediately said,’ No, no, not there.’ I said, ‘Come, it will be fun’. We scouted for a location to get inside the fence. At a spot close by, the ground was depressed and cleared out and there was space between the ground and the fence. Both of us laid down on the ground and dragged ourselves underneath the fence, just like an alligator would.
Once inside, we quickly got to the orange tree. The branches were low, but the ground was sloping towards the pond and the oranges were just beyond my reach. So, I decided to climb the tree a bit to get to the lowest hanging oranges. I grabbed the tree trunk, put my right foot on the trunk and lifted myself up. I was still on the first step when it happened. The foot slipped and ……………. I fell. The height was not much but the ground below was sloping and uneven. The foot landed at an awkward angle and the fall continued. Time slowed down and the moment seemed to go on forever. The knee was getting dangerously bent and I thought that the knee would break today. I reached the ground and to my huge relief, the knee did not break, it held. As I lay on the ground assessing the damage, a neighbor peeked out of their window and spotted us. Perhaps she wondered what these two crazies were doing inside the fence. After a few moments, I finally got up. We made our way to the depression beneath the fence and dragged ourselves out. I limped back home with my daughter.
In the ensuing weeks, the knee swelled up. I gave it plenty of time to recover and the swelling subsided. Gradually, the pain went away, and function returned. I even ran 2 half marathons in the summer. The knee was still stiff. I started doing yoga and it brought back the flexibility. A year after the fall, I felt that I had recovered 99% of the function.
However, as we all know, once a part gets injured it is likely to get hurt again. I went to play cricket just before covid hit and seemed to hurt the knee again while bowling. Another round of rest and recovery followed. Then, in December 2020, I was again playing with my daughter. She jumped off a tree stump, and I jumped right behind her, and the knee wobbled. This brought an end to all running. I again gave time for injury to heal but this time it did not seem to get better. After waiting a year, I finally went to the doctor. An MRI showed a meniscus tear and an ACL ligament which had healed from a tear. I got a meniscus arthroscopy done. Recovery seemed to be going well for 3 months. However, in July some combination of walking, stairs and physiotherapy caused the pain to return, and it kept getting worse. After some insurance related delays, we got another MRI done and this time it showed an ACL tear. Forget running, this brought even walking to a halt.
This Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, I am finally heading for an ACL replacement surgery.
An astronaut once said, ‘Only in space, we realize what a joy it is to walk’. We often take simple things like walking for granted and don’t realize what we have until it is lost or is threatened. Not quite being able to walk properly for last 2 months made me truly appreciate walking. Now, I no longer need to go to space to appreciate the joys of walking.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for all the small things in life, like walking, that we never stop to think about. I hope that you and your loved ones are all blessed with the wealth of health.
A very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and season’s greetings. May you have a blessed holiday season.
Keep on walking,
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