I wasn't looking forward to the operation, but it was the next necessary step on my journey to double-leggedness. As such, I accepted it with that inevitable resignation.
And then I chatted to Mel online. I'd been having a couple of low weeks, and as a result I'd written her a love letter which turned into a cathartic unloading of all my personal woes. I decided that I'd give it to her anyway, with the caveat that I was quite down at the time, and she might as well see me warts and all. To lighten things, I wrote another one, which waxed far more rhapsodic.
She told me she'd read the letters, and she'd sent me one back (by email, as I would be at my parents when it arrived). I joked that I hoped it wasn't a Dear John letter, and she didn't laugh. I realised then that it was but that didn't soften the blow.
Not one bit.
It's perfectly understandable; her baggage and mine were simply incompatible, like trying to plug a jack into a phono, or trying to connect an aardvark in a sack to a pillow. In the end, she told me that she'd been pretending to herself that her aardvark was enough like a pillow for it to work. I spoke to her later on, and any thoughts I'd had that we could make it work were dashed there and then. I'd got on better with Mel than with any other woman I've met, she was smart, funny and sexy, and we had a real connection. I've managed to get over the worst of it fairly quickly, and I think we'll be able to stay friends, but being without her is going to be hard.
Of course, this happened on Sunday evening, so I didn't sleep a wink on Sunday night. I ended up killing time on the PC until my dad arrived to take me to the hospital. I sat in the ward for a couple of hours, reading The Handmaid's Tale, and found myself getting mellancholy at Offred's (as in "of Fred," geddit?) plight, more than I suspect I would had I not been unexpectedly single again. The consultant came and went through the expected events, before drawing an arrow on my leg, pointing to my knee. It's standard procedure to make double sure they don't lop off an arm by mistake, but it's still amusing. I then signed the consent form, giving him the right to footle around as much as necessary. It was like being the Queen; every five minutes someone else came to where I was sat, and I shook hands witheach one and asked "And what do you do?" I met the anaesthesiologist, the physio nurse, a couple of other nurses, etc. The ward was split into two. I was in bed 2 of the first four, and the next four were across the aisle. It became clear later that there were two lots of operaations happening that day. In beds 5, 6, and 7, the patients were having facial moles removed, and they were all in and out of surgery before the guy in bed 1 came back. They collected me around 10:20 and I walked down to anaesthetics. I lay on the bed, they stuck a needle in my hand, and next thing I knew I was coming to, back in the ward.
The sensation was similar to waking up after fainting; I was extremely lightheaded, and my movements seemed exaggerated. I was also surprisingly happy, and I could only feel a dull ache in my leg. The surgeon came and spoke to me, giving me the piece of cartilage they'd removed in a small plastic phial. I have absolutely no idea what he said, but I nodded like a dope. I hope I didn't drool. The anaesthetic wore off, so the longer I sat, the worse the pain got, although it settled at a low throb. I could have had some morphine, but I thought it would be overkill, frankly.
I was brought back to the ancestral home by lunchtime, and I've spent the intervening hours hopping around on crutches and nodding off in front of the TV. It's not much of a playboy lifestyle, but it will suffice for now. This morning I removed the copious bandages, and frankly, I was disappointed to find that my knee hadn't become invisible. Instead I saw three plasters arranged at the points of an isosceles triangle, each matted with black, dried blood. They'll be fun to take off! My knee's a bit swollen, but already I can walk around a bit without crutches. With luck, I'll get a definite prognosis at my Friday physiotherapy session.