Two years ago, it was a great pleasure to welcome 2010 from the vantage point of Moca, Puerto Rico with Angel; and no less pleasant were the following days, which were filled with beach excursions, pig roasts, and Twelfth Night fireworks. This year, alone, watching the change to 2012 wasn't nearly as special, as it seemed like just another night at the Burn Unit. A few evenings later, however, provided a bit of an adventure. Accompanied by my wonderful nurse Jill and the social worker Ann, I had a leave of absence from the hospital to see a movie at a local theater. Joining up with a couple of other friendly workers from the unit, we took in a 7 PM showing of "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol." (I enjoyed the movie -- director Brad Bird carried some zing over from "The Incredibles" and "Ratatouille.") Jill, Ann, and I shared some post-movie nibbles at a nearby restaurant... and then found, as we waited for the transfer train to take us back to the University Hospital, that we had missed the last one by several minutes. Our "mission: improbable" became getting me back to my room in one piece, without leaving my borrowed, couple-hundred-pound power wheelchair in the middle of downtown Salt Lake City. Fortunately, there is a local cab company that has ambulance-type vans, and I got back to the ward by 12:30... somewhat colder and later than expected, but intact. (Everyone should petition the Trax system to run the University Hospital line later than it goes at present.)
It turns out that I ought to have used the leave of absence as a chance to escape (just kidding), as the next morning I received some unwelcome news: my left knee, which has been in an immobilizer for the past month, recovering from a patellectomy, hasn't healed sufficiently to be saved. The disease is enough for my left knee to be amputated, a procedure that will take place on Tuesday (the 10th). I had thought I was through with such loss. The blow is mitigated only by the knowledge that having no knee is better, prosthesis- and other-wise, than having a useless sick one; and by the fact that my right knee, though without its patella, has held on. As I'm still processing the news and imagining my poor leg to be a few inches shorter than it is, this knowledge seems a little like cold comfort. Yet I'll be glad to be without left-knee pain, which has been bothering me lately.
"The art of losing isn't hard to master." -- Elizabeth Bishop