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Loosely Bodied

Longtime The Readers may remember The 2005 Adventures of the Torn Left Meniscus, a delightful injury which results in occasional and sudden locking of the knee.  Fellow Catholics were especially large fans, as this sometimes resulted in a cry of post-kneeling pain audible from as far as four pews off.

But since the advent of my very very important work at the Department of Government Governmenting,  which involves a six-block angry hurtle to and from the train station, the locking incidents have become more frequent and expletive-producing, a phenomenon compounded by the fact that I quite often go from fully sports braed and Workout Primed to writhing on the ground within seconds.  Finally it began hurting even when I was performing the rigorous governmental activity of just sitting there, and though I had formerly consigned the source of the injury to being, you know, old, I decided it was time to call in a specialist.  You can't be too careful with your joints.  Also, unlike the last time this sort of thing presented itself, I wave before me a health insurance policy which covers medical events other than lancing my left kidney on a Wednesday in a month containing the birthday of one of the cast members of the original Hee Haw.

This, as you can well imagine, goes over wonderfully at work, where I have accumulated precisely enough sick leave to execute a particularly rapid sneeze:

ME: Here's my paperwork for sick leave.  I have an appointment with an ophthalmologist.

MY SUPERVISOR: ... Really?  I didn't know you wore contacts.

ME: I... don't.  It's for my knee?

MY SUPERVISOR: So you want sick leave for an appointment for an eye doctor about a knee injury even though you aren't limping.

ME: ....He's a specialist.

On a Monday morning, I was prepped, propped, and X-rayed, presenting my knee for photographing at Theismann-quality angles.  By the time the doctor showed up, I was cradling the entire left leg,  unsure where the age of thirty began and the torn meniscus ended.

The doctor was my parents' age and began with what every single person wants to hear from a well-seasoned medical professional:  "I've never seen this before."

He pointed to an X-ray on a computer screen-- it was my knee, and it was not smiling at all.  "What you have here is a loose body."

Well.  I've been called a slut before, but never in such a manner.  Certainly not by a member of the medical community. "I'm a what?"

"There's a loose body floating around in your kneecap."   He circled the aforementioned looseness.

I then rendered my own expert medical opinion, which was:  "Ew."

"But I usually only see these with a bone injury, and your surrounding bones are smooth.  I don't know where it could have come from."

There's another one you want to hear from your attending physician:  "I don't know."  I bent forward to examine the reason I have been falling off treadmills and high heeled shoes for the past four years.  "Is it cartilage?"

"Cartilage won't show up on an X-ray.  You probably haven't injured the meniscus at all.  Otherwise, I'm not sure about the composition of the loose body."

My bet was on a small but galacticly dense ball of solidified angst.  "Well, now what?"

Now what was an MRI.  But I was given, as a parting gift, a take-home image of my knee to put in my very special Chondromalacia Emergency Moments scrapbook.


Most American women have extremely poor body image, so I am proud to say that my femur is fierce.  I have a totally hot patella.

It's my new party conversation starter.  "See," I said to Josh The Pilot, tapping the screen.  "It's a loose body, just floating around in my kneecap."

"Ew," he said.

I emailed it to all known family members, as this is the closest I will likely ever come to a sonogram.  "See how I need to eat for two!" I wrote.

It was then time to find a second opinion.  I went online and Googled my new ailment.  One hit turned up a story on a Redskin who was sidelined for a game; another discussed a patient who underwent surgery with exactly the same symptoms as mine, but the surgery didn't work, so they doctor tried it again, and then his entire leg went numb, and the doctor cut it off.  He cut it off.  He cut the dude's leg entirely off.

It was then time to close the browser window.

hearing the heartbeat at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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Reader Comments (15)

[...] All you ever wanted to see of Mary Beth’s patella. Share and Enjoy: [...]

Yeah, if there's one 'internet safety tip' all those lists are missing, it's "do NOT attempt to diagnose an illness, condition, or other medial situation via online searches."

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

LOL You don't know how many times I've self-diagnosed Asperger's syndrome, cancer & glaucoma, just to name a few ;-)

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie


I have heard the "I've never seen that before and I don't know what to do" more times than I care to remember. I am so sorry that your knee hurts. If it were me, I'd hightail it to the nearest teaching hospital and demand to see the Chief. NEVER let a resident or intern near you. Use bodliy force if necessary. I have. Trust me on this. If you need me to come down there and kick some Dr. butt and find a great doc, I am more than willing.

Also, you should know by now to NEVER EVER use the interweb to diagnose yourself. Bad, bad idea.

Love and hugs,

April 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKell Belle

Check your mother in law and what was done to her patella by a UCLA football team orthopod when she was in 7th grade.

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma McF

I underwent a similiar situation with my left hip which I chalked up also to aging. When it got to the point that I couldn't get up off the couch without theatrical moaning, I went to the doctor, who eyeballed my xray and said, "I didn't know you played hockey."

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

And may we have a contest to name the loose body?

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis


In all seriousness, hope you're feeling better soon. Joint injuries suck. :(

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkristabelle41

I'm glad to know another SMC girl that has bizarre ailments. I, too, was once met with an "I've never seen this before." When I had a stone... in a gland... under my tongue. Like a kidney stone, just hanging out in a salivary gland. The doctor had to pull reference books to diagnose me, and then he called other doctors in to look. And that was before I got the stone out. Then there were plenty of doctors carting around the little plastic bag I'd placed the stone in (after following the doctor's orders: Continuously suck on sour candy until the saliva builds up enough to force the stone out) going "OMG! LOOK AT THIS!"

Rest well, you are not alone in your bizarre case of extra body bits!

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy t.

One would think they'd be able to extract that little body...in fact, doesn't Orevk make an attachment for that?

Cool x-ray, although -- ow. I hope your Gumm'nt Bandayd fixes it soon. :)

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterlynD

Wow, MB, that is one sexy loose body you got there! I hope they figger out what to do next!

Oh, I diagnosed myself with fibromyalgia on the webz then got a second opinion from my rheumatologist. She took longer than I did, but I guess since it actually involved, you know, testing...

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne from Iowa

Man, those pesky gray aliens are getting sneakier with their implants. Remember the good old days when they only bothered to place them near the abductee's right ear? :-P

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

Sorry to hear about your knee, but I am laughing, thanks to your highly amusing storytelling! Haven't been to BC in a while, and I love that you're as witty as ever!

April 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

[...] June 10, 2009 · No Comments My cabbages, we come to Surgery Eve.  The deadline for eating passed some seventeen minutes ago, which, when you’re a [...]

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