Tanzania, February 24, 2003
I'll trade my right toe for a good left knee
|Oh, my poor left knee, my trick knee, and my great weakness in my impervious health.
In second grade the trouble started when fell and split open my knee-cap on a gutter, spilling blood on the sidewalk all the way home. The knee healed quickly, for I have no memory of it hurting although I have a great scar as a memory.
It kept quiet all through high school and college sports, not giving me any trouble until I tried to impress a girl with my soccer skills when I first moved to Washington DC. Then I was beset with double dose of quadricep tendentious for my shenanigans.
After extensive physical therapy, I was back to my true form, not even thinking I could tear the meniscus when I slid down the steps outside the Taganka Metro Station in Moscow. That's when I realized how much that little layer of viscosity mattered and how much fun orthoscopic knee surgery would be.
Those crazy Finnish doctors, hyping me up on Valium and showing me the insides of the knee on the big screen, warped me for life when they shoved a dinosaur-head PEZ dispenser into the soft tissues of the joint to fix me.
Still, they did a great job, and it wasn't until last week that I even remembered the history of my left knee. At 3am, those memories came flooding back as I rolled around the bottom of my tent in mind-numbing pain.
Just minutes before, I was soundly sleeping, when I heard an odd munching sound just outside my tent. Climbing out to investigate, I came face to face with an African water buffalo, the most dangerous animal in the Ngorongoro Crater, for unlike even the lions, elephants, or hippos, they will charge humans and even Land Rovers without fear or provocation.
And my appearance inches from his face, shining a flashlight in his eyes and standing on his fresh green grass was definitely provocative, for the next thing I knew, I had a one ton African water buffalo chasing my ass through the main campsite.
Luckily, I remembered a few tricks from the time I ran with the bulls in Pamplona, and I managed to make a quick left and right, loosing him in the tent ropes and mini-buses, but savagely twisting my knee in the process.
Now it's a week later, and while I can walk with minimal pain, thanks to 600 mg of ibuprofen ever four hours, there is no way I'll be attempting the seven day hike that climbing Mt Kilimanjaro entails. No, I'm headed to the beaches of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar to rest and recuperate in the sun for a month before I think about Kili. That and to look for some TLC from a pretty young nurse...