Car-Free Living with an Injured Knee

Not a day would go by where I would wonder how I would get by if I experienced an injury or serious illness.  The thought would creep into my head as I would make the .7 mile walk to Figueroa St. to catch the 81 bus to work, and then walk another half mile up Bunker Hill to my office.  It sure would be tough.

Nearly four weeks ago, I learned first hand how this experience would be.  I was doing a drill in my Krav Maga class meant to strengthen the muscles around my knee, and landed incorrectly.  I felt stuff moving in my knee that had no business being moved.  I fell to the ground, screaming in pain.  Any pressure on my left knee felt like the weight of world was crushing it.

A trip to urgent care gave me some hopeful news.  Nothing was torn or broken in me knee.  But that didn’t mean that I was going to avoid a long, painful recovery .  I would need to take it easy on my knee, and only once I’ve rested it for a while, begin to take short walks.

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I might be injured and waiting to be seen at urgent care, but I’m still trying to keep my spirits up!  Photo by Christian Meola

During the first week, I was in so much pain that I was happy to rest and ice my knee.  My boyfriend got me a brace and cane to help me get around the house and the office, and he helped me with me day-to-day chores.  I would have been doomed if it wasn’t for his help and compassion.

I took Lyft to and from work.  I live just over three miles from my office, which makes for a fairly short Lyft ride.  But the cost of getting rides every day began to add up.  I was paying more for Lyft rides in one week than I was paying for a monthly Metro pass.  I reminded myself of all the money I’ve been saving for three years by not owning a car.  If I need to spend more in a time of injury to get around, so be it.

By the second week of my knee injury, I was still in too much pain to do much walking.  Lyft remained my chariot to the office.  It became more difficult to maintain my usually positive disposition.  I’m not very good at “taking it easy,” and I wanted to get back to my active lifestyle.  I missed being able to see the blooming jacaranda trees and wishing my neighbors ‘good morning’ during my morning walk to the bus stop.  To make it worse, I ended up catching an illness.  I had a fever for a couple days, and once again welcomed any rest.

I was shaking off my illness by the third week, and determined to make more progress on my knee.  It was finally time to begin taking those short walks directed by the doctor.  I continued taking Lyft to work, but went back to taking the bus home.  I learned that I am able to exit my work through an emergency exit on Flower St, and walk through the 3rd St. tunnel to Hill St.  With this route, I’m able to avoid walking down Bunker Hill.  Even though I was able to put more weight on me knee, it still hurt to walk up and down hills and stairs.  Regardless, the progress I was seeing was helping to boost my spirits a bit.

Now here I am, halfway through my fourth week of injury.  I’m much less reliant on my cane.  In fact, I have been carrying it mostly in case I have a weak moment on my knee.  I am still unable to do much more than walk on flat surfaces for short distances, but I’m grateful that I can get to work the old fashioned way.

I still have a long road yet to my recovery.  It will weeks before I return to my Krav Maga training.  Maybe I’ll be able to do a short bike ride this weekend.  I just need to remind myself that I do need to take it easy in order to make a full recovery.

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