I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
November 15, 2021
One morning a few weeks ago, I woke up as usual, hopped out of bed (our bed is very high off the ground, so hopping really is what I have to do), and gasped in pain. My knee was locked at a 90-degree angle. Trying to straighten it was excruciating.
I did the only thing I could do, which was to bend my other knee, hunch down, and stumble like Quasimodo to my bedroom door. “I can’t walk,” I croaked to my husband downstairs. “My knee has locked up.”
Dennis was mildly surprised, but this knee has been giving me trouble for a while so my latest fiasco wasn’t altogether unexpected. After trying to hobble around for a bit, things weren’t getting any better. Dejectedly, I climbed back in bed and Dennis helpfully brought me coffee, a heating pad, and a Meloxicam. A few hours later, he came to check on me.
“I think I’m a little improved,” I said. “I’m walking like Cro-Magnon now and earlier I was more Australopithecus.”
“You’re evolving,” he said with satisfaction.
“I’m evolving,” I repeated.
That afternoon, I went to see my orthopedist, who informed me after looking at my x-rays that the cartilage in my knee was almost gone, mostly because my knee had moved to the left of where it was supposed to be and was basically just ‘bone rubbing on bone’ every time I moved, which created inflammation, which created the kind of pain that had lately been causing me to shriek unexpectedly at inopportune moments. That admission is embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as the reason all this knee trouble started.
While most people assume I injured my knee hiking to a remote waterfall or something exotic like that (and I don’t bother to correct them, and you’re about to see why), the sad truth is that it happened when I got obsessive about a jigsaw puzzle two Christmases ago and spent hours on my knees putting it together on our oversized coffee table. If you’re wondering, the puzzle was titled, ‘Things I Ate As a Kid.’ And there was a moment toward the end of my puzzle construction when I stood up and something popped in my knee and I realized something had gone very, very wrong. This was quickly followed by another moment when I realized I had never eaten any of the stuff on the puzzle when I was a kid, because the puzzle makers had clearly designed it for Boomers, probably assuming Gen-Xers still have better things to do in their spare time … like hiking to remote waterfalls. Dammit.
Anyway, the orthopedist recommended a series of gel shots that would plump up the cartilage or something like that and provide relief for up to a year at a time. The trouble was, I needed to wait for insurance to approve the shots and that generally took a few weeks. I was sent home with an oral steroid prescription to reduce the inflammation in the meantime, which seemed to work — After a few days, my knee was back to its usual, generalized wonkiness. But it wasn’t long before I awoke to find my knee was locked up again. This time, I couldn’t walk on it at all in any position without feeling a ridiculous amount of pain. Fortunately, my first round of shots was scheduled for the very next day.
When I went in for the shots and told my orthopedist what had happened, he seemed sympathetic. The shots would take a few weeks to really help, he said, but he could have me fitted for a brace in the meantime if I liked, which could help push my knee back into alignment. I gratefully accepted, expecting the nurse to come in with some kind of bionic gear that would miraculously allow me to once again make a grocery store run without crying in the car afterward.
Instead, she came in with a brace that looked remarkably similar to the $20 compression brace I’d bought off Amazon several months ago to use when I was hiking. The only difference was a couple of velcro straps and very thin metal hinges on either side. She helped me put it on and said I could pay for it at the front desk when I checked out. It seemed to help with the pain a little, so… Why not?
At the front desk, the receptionist said, “That’ll be $60.”
‘Wow, that’s kind of expensive for a little neoprene and velcro,’ I thought to myself. ‘What a racket.’
The receptionist then smiled, leaned in confidentially and said very quickly, all in one breath, “You’ll pay $60 today and we’ll bill your insurance $440 for the rest of it only sometimes they refuse to pay and also we do not accept any returns on these braces for any reason have a nice day and hope you feel better!” Her eyes gleamed and her teeth sparkled. What could I do but smile back?
“Thank you,” I said meekly, and went limping on my way.
It didn’t hit me until I was on the elevator and headed back down to the first floor. Had I heard that right? $440? Plus the sixty I’d just paid?
FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS? For the stretchy bit of almost nothing currently wrapped around my knee?
And wait just a darn minute. Had she actually said insurance might not pay for it? Surely I had misheard that part. It would be completely impossible and also probably illegal for a person to look so happy and kind while saying something so horrible and wrong.
What had I just done? What. Had. I. Just. DONE?
I chose not share this part of the story with Dennis when I got home. Or rather, I opted to share it here on this blog, because I know for a fact that he reads every word of every post that I write because he says that he does, and if that turns out not to be the case, well, he deserves what he gets. … in this case, a bill for $440 dollars.
Also? I just looked up knee braces and found one that looks nearly identical to mine (except actually a little nicer) at Dick’s Sporting Goods… for $69.99.
What the actual hell, people?
I am tempted now to cut my knee brace open and see if it contains the feather of a phoenix. Or gold doubloons. Or an ancient map detailing the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. MAKE IT MAKE SENSE. Because I can’t.