The Physical and Mental Ramifications of Robotic Plant Life

July 1, 2008
There are plenty of words to describe the feeling of a knee popping out of its socket, but I believe that the most fitting is a resounding ‘ow’. The first time I ever had the displeasure of experiencing a knee dislocation I was working. It was my solemn duty to don a fringed camouflage monstrosity, stand behind a large mechanical tree that growled loud and often, and jump out to scare the living daylights out of anyone who dared cross my path. Or at least, anyone who paid the requisite twenty bucks to go through the haunted attractions. The results of my efforts were equally disappointing and hilarious. I had heard a few giggles and was preparing myself to capture a few easy shrieks and curses from the unsuspecting females. My foot caught on one of the tree’s errant speaker cords and ow. I barely had the presence of mind to drag myself behind the cover of the plastic tree. The pain was blinding and instantaneous, and left me limping until the scream park closed.

The second dislocation occurred as I was turning to flush the toilet. I collapsed, luckily avoiding contact with all ceramic fixtures but managing to depress the flusher on the way down. No one came to my rescue, even though the bathroom is located directly over the living room and the sound of me hitting linoleum was quite loud. When I made my way downstairs thirty minutes later, my step-father’s excuse was that he thought it was my mother banging around in the kitchen. That night I wrote a letter to my loved ones to be read if I happened to fall somewhere, perhaps hit my head on the corner of a sink, and bleed to death. I gave it to my best friends for safe keeping, and it made them cry. The third and final time my kneecap popped out of socket I was playing badminton with my parents. The sight of me smelling grass and clutching my knee was enough motivation to get me to a doctor.

Dr. Mark H. Moriarty has a mustache, one blue eye, a passion for surgery, and one brown eye. He’s so skinny that his lab coat hangs off of him and he mumbles. But he has a dry sense of humor and the ability to immediately put you at ease. After fiddling with my knees for a few minutes and listening to past dislocation experiences, he announced the options. Do nothing and allow it to grow worse over time, or fix it with surgery. The technical terms sounded something like ‘arthroscopic distal realignment’ and ‘patella stabilization’. “We’re going to tighten the ligaments so the kneecap won’t pop out anymore,” was what he said to me. And it’s guaranteed to work? He spit out a high percentage, adding, “I sincerely doubt that it won’t. And it’ll be like nothing ever happened by six months, tops.” The way he spoke made it seem like the most rational thing in the world. Knee surgery was suddenly as common sense as going to pee when you had to. I agreed to it. He thought that was great, and he left the room.

Without the calming presence of my quietly witty doctor, I had a panic attack. I was sweating because it was suddenly too hot and my stomach was protesting because everything was suddenly spinning. I didn’t understand why my subconscious had to spring these scary sensations on me. I was totally cool with surgery! After it passed my mom made arrangements and we left the office. I was scared. Not about the surgery, but about the panic attack. Never before had I experienced such a thing. I could deal with the physical abnormality--that kind of pain is easy to quantify. But this was mental. It wasn’t something that Dr. Moriarty and his discolored eyes could fix. I felt like my body had betrayed me, that I’d lost control of it. And now that I’d had one, would they start happening all the time? My mom was a little bit smug, after the initial bout of worry. “Now you know how it feels,” she concluded. This only served to terrify me further--the thought of inheriting disorders from my mother is very alarming. If I’d managed to grab panic attacks from the gene pool, who’s to say I didn’t yank out irritable bowel syndrome?

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Lunatunafish said...
Aug. 19, 2008 at 10:05 pm
wow! This was so well written. You inspire me.
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