I woke up with a lot of pain. I hobbled around the corner from the Chicago Hilton where we were staying for a grande hazelnut latte and a pumpkin scone but, by the time I got back from Starbucks, my knee was really, really hurting. The coffee and scone helped me feel better but not my knee.
My co-worker and I met later that morning in the hotel lobby to head over to McCormick Place for the show. I had to ask him to help me out by getting the car, driving it to the convention center, and dropping me off as close as possible to the exhibit hall. I conisdered just driving home at that point. I knew it wasn't going to be a pleasant few hours at the show but I thought I could manage. I was excited about this trade show and didn't want to miss it. I enjoy meeting and talking with folks and trying to con ... excuse me ... "talk" them into our products. (LOL, though I can slip into a pretty salesy mode when I want to.)
However, about half-way to our booth, it felt like something burst in my knee. I nearly crumpled to the floor but was able to grab hold of a table and steady myself. I rested a bit, gritted my teeth and walked to our booth where I sat down. I am not quite sure how I made it because, by the time I got there, I could put no weight at all on that knee. When I was a child, I used to have dreams of showing up at school (usually in my pajamas for the first dose of humiliation) and then not being able to walk once I got there, having to use my arms to pull myself around on the floor. Over the years, a lot of my dreams, or nightmares, have consisted of being powerless in terms of not being able to walk. Unfortunately, yesterday in McCormick Place, it was not a dream.
My co-worker, Luke, showed up at the booth a short while later after parking the car. I explained to him my predicament. There was no way I would be able to walk out of the convention center. We thought of different options ... wheelchair, paramedics, Green Peace, National Guard, crawling, finding really strong people to carry me ... my main intent was to get home. If I could get to my car, I could then drive home which was where I really really wanted to be. I knew that I didn't want to drink any liquids because I didn't think I'd be able to make it to a restroom by myself on the way home.
So, the best solution we came up with was for Luke to go buy crutches for me. I had seen a drug store not too far from the convention. He was gone about an hour and, druing that time, I hoped seriously that he hadn't just decided to leave town. Anyway, he showed up with the crutches and then, in a whole lot of pain, I had to try to figure out how to use them. I looked and felt ridiculous. I think I looked like a fish trying to use crutches, dragging my tail behind me. I would highly suggest to everyone that, just for the heck of it, you practice using crutches sometime so that you can learn how to use them while you're well rather than when you're in pain. Seriously -- think about it.
I sort of alternated between hopping and dragging myself on my crutches through McCormick Place. It felt like I was chasing the crutches. But I made it to the car, and I managed to stop at a restroom on the way.
Driving was not easy. Especially getting my foot up off of the gas pedal and onto the brake when I needed to. Unfortunately, the Dan Ryan Expressway, leading out of Chicago, was under construction and traffic was bumper to bumper on it so, for an hour, I had to reach down with my arm and keep repositioning my leg between the accelerator and the brake pedal. I tried braking with my left foot but that was even more awkward. I am not sure how my parents, both two-footed drivers, do that. I just kept hoping and praying that nothing would happen that would require me to switch quickly from the gas to the brake. That would have been disastrous I am afraid.
It was a long, painful drive home. I called Lisa and a friend of mine and they both offered to drive up and get me but I figured that would just make the whole ordeal take even longer so I was determined to drive home on my own. I stopped a couple of times to rest my foot but I didn't dare stretch things out too long or I would have to get into a restroom somehow. I went through a Wendy's drive-thru and got one of my current favorite comfort foods -- their new ham and cheese. I wondered if there is much difference between a frosty and a soft drink in terms of pee production. Probably not but I was going to play it as safe as I knew how so I chose the frosty.
I did make it home, with a pretty full bladder. I had thought about going straight to the ER but my wonderful wife wanted to go with me. I was very grateful for that. So, mom came down to be with Evan and Lisa and I headed to the ER.
As I expected, the x-rays they took showed nothing. The doctor was very kind and ultimately agreed with my own diagnosis that this was all fibromyalgia-related. As he said, doctors "just don't know what the hell to do for people with fibromyalgia." Something very similar happened to me a couple of years ago and there wasn't anything I could do but wait it out. This time, the doctor talked about giving me a cortisone shot in one of the particularly painful areas of my knee. That sort of bothered me because I felt that the trauma from a shot could worsen things dramatically. So, he sent me home with a couple of Vicodin pills for the evening plus prescriptions for Vicodin, Celebrex and a sleeping pill.
I woke up Saturday morning still in a lot of pain but it did seem that things were some better. Now it's Saturday afternoon and I can get around on just one crutch.
But, here's the point of my story ... I still feel helpless. I cannot do much for myself. I am having to rely on Lisa. I hate being a burden on someone though and it is driving me nuts. She is truly Jesus' hands and feet for me. I do not like feeling helpless but perhaps this ultimately is a lesson for me ... a lesson in abandoning my will and instead relying on others ... and on God.