Butch Hurt = Butch in a Skirt?!?

(For my friends who read my LiveJournal, this is old news, but it’s a new post with more details. Hopefully it’s worth reading. Also, all the HTML errors can be blamed on Tylenol with Codeine.)

Two weeks ago I made a serious attempt to turn church choir into a full contact sport. Then I spent a week limping around telling myself that my inability to bend my left knee and the large amount of pain in my left shin was all from the swelling and bruising. For a week I iced it, I elevated it, I stayed the hell off it, and I took enough ibuprofen to give me stomach aches.

One week ago I went with a couple of friends to the Stanford Pow Wow opening ceremonies. Seating to watch the dancing was full, but one of my friends uses a wheelchair, so we went to the wheelchair accessible spots. Those of us not in wheelchairs spread out a blanket to sit on the ground. In my haste to sit down and not block the view of the people already seated behind me, I sort of forgot how gimpy my knee was, and started to kneel on it. Just barely started. That was a mistake. My knee and shin went kablooey inside, I made a sharp inarticulate sound and then said some words that I shouldn’t have in front of my friend’s young daughter. When I got home much later, I iced, elevated and ibuprofened the hell out of it.

From there it got worse rather than better. A new and exciting nerve pain manifested in my shin. I started having trouble sleeping because it hurt enough to keep me awake. Bruises appeared on the outer side of my calf, all down my shin, under my knee, and remarkably, all around my ankle — gravity at work, pulling blood from the various and sundry unhappy things in my knee downward.

IMG_0108
Makes it look like it’s my ankle I actually injured, but it’s the knee. Gravity pulls even bruises down.

I called my cousin, who is a physical therapist, and asked his opinion on Tuesday. “Go to the doctor, you might have broken something,” he said.

“It’s just a bruise,” I said. “And I can bear weight on it, and sort of bend it.”

I imagine there was an eyeroll or two going on at his end of the call. He patiently explained that even so, it might be wise to get it checked out.

I decided to wait and see a little longer. I mean seriously, why pay $$$ to get the urgent care doctor to tell me, “It’s a bruise. Ice, elevation, ibuprofen,” when I could figure that out for myself?

Thursday I play D&D (yes, I am that big a geek) with a guy who just got his M.D. My leg hurt a lot, and I was making ouchy faces and having to sit with it propped up. “That’s a lot of swelling. And a lot of bruising,” he observed. “And you seem to be having a lot of pain.”

“Yes. A bruise,” I agreed. “It hurts.”

“You probably did some actual damage to that. Go get it looked at, you idiot.”

So Friday morning I finally stopped trying to be a macho stoic, and got up at 6:15 so I could get to the clinic at 7:00 when it opened.

IMG_0105
It’s sort of hard to tell, but pretty much my whole shin and knee are bruised and swollen, and then there are the ankle bruises.

Several hours, an X-ray, an ultrasound to make sure there was no blood clot, and a “wait, you’ve been walking on this for two weeks?!?” later…

I was given a knee immoblizer, crutches, Tylenol with Codeine, and instructions to ice and elevate it and do no weight-bearing, even around the house. I’ve got appointment with an orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday who will probably do an MRI. (Ugh, MRI. I got claustrophobic last time I had one.)

They were surprising about the pain meds, actually. I didn’t ask for them at all, but they were like – no, seriously. Please take something more than ibuprofen. You’ve been hobbling around on this for two weeks and it’s keeping you up nights? Take something. Here. Really, which one won’t make you puke, Vicodin or Tylenol with Codeine? Have 30. It turns out they were right, actually. I’m only taking the strong meds at night, but it makes a difference. Although it’s not doing much for the nerve pain.

The urgent care doc was friendly and fun. He tripped my gaydar, though one doesn’t want to make unwarranted assumptions, but he perked up and got even friendlier when I told him I was a writer of gay romance. Then he had a moment of medical geek joy when I told him about my immune disorder. He was all, “Ohh, CVID, huh? That’s IG…A or G? Wow, don’t see that very often.” We had a brief and entertaining conversation about B-cell defects, my medical history, how it was diagnosed, did I get lots of pneumonias, was I on antibiotics a lot… (me: yep).

And then he asked when my last menstrual period was, and I was all: no uterus, don’t have them. He gives me this shocked look. “I had a hysterectomy a few years ago for really bad endometriosis,” I said. And he did this massive double take, looked at my chart again, looked at me, and said he’d thought I was a Stanford student, and fifteen or twenty years younger than I am. Which, you know what? BOOYAH! Almost makes the whole thing worth it.

So it seems it’s not just a bruise. The initial X-ray showed no obvious fracture, but the MRI I’ll get Tuesday might reveal otherwise. In my web research since I took my head out of the sand, I came across proximal tibiofibular joint dislocation, which sound suspiciously like what’s going on with my shin and the outer side of my calf. I think I’ve probably also damaged some stuff on the inside of my knee, like the meniscus, the ACL, or one of the other ligaments or cartilages.

IMG_0528
Leg brace with cleverly jerry-rigged ace bandage anchoring it around my waist, because otherwise it slides down.

Finally we get to the reason for my title. I have only one pair of jeans I can easily get on over this thing. I am considering exercising my gender privilege and wearing a skirt, but a skirt lacks pockets which is supremely inconvenient. And it’s so… girly. Around the house I’m wearing boxers and a bathrobe. I wrote a story recently in which one of my main characters, who was of Japanese ancestry, broke his leg and had a cast, and opted to wear kimono while it healed – I kind of wish I had that option.

Still, I think even if I wear a skirt for a while, my butch cred is intact. I walked around on a broken-in-some-way knee for nearly two weeks before the pain eroded through my stoicism enough for me to seek medical attention; if that’s not dumb masculine thinking, I don’t know what is. (And yes, my brothers and sisters, I do realize that was exceptionally stupid, but feel free to tell me so anyway. Also to laugh at me. Laughter is good.)

The other thing that’s really bothering me now? I’ve got a femme friend in town visiting, and I couldn’t carry her luggage for her when I picked her up at the airport last night, and she’s the one holding doors for me as I crutch around. Ah, the ignominy!

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~ by Nezu on 17 May 2010.

4 Responses to “Butch Hurt = Butch in a Skirt?!?”

  1. Get over the ignominy and get some sweat pants. Then chop them off just below the knee and leave them ragged looking. Make sure they are black or dark blue and have pockets. Somewhat worn out from good will is even better. Works for leg coverage and is not a skirt. 🙂

    • Good point about the sweatpants. I’m also thinking shorts, especially since I’m probably gonna be looking at PT for a while here.

  2. […] somewhere in the middle:  Nezu says it best “This is my place for looking at the middle ground of gender identity and sexual preference. And who knows, probably other stuff, too.”  I’ve just begun to explore this writer’s musings about butchness, gender, identity and relationships. […]

  3. […] Quick recap of the knee saga: I solved the skirt problem by acquiring some excellent cargo shorts at Target men’s. One […]

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