The last few days, my right knee has been slow to react. Up to that point, it hadn't presented too much of a problem: I still can't walk unassisted, but going about stiff-legged is nothing new, and it hasn't made not-quite-walking appreciably more difficult.
Then came the Tuesday commute. The morning wasn't any big deal, as mornings generally haven't been. Came the afternoon, and I was my usual tired self; it was tricky climbing into the car, and working the pedals was decidedly uncomfortable; traffic northbound on Interstate 35 has been weirdly obtuse of late, with about a two-mile stretch of 20-mph traffic every day and never any explanation for it. So it was today, and I was relieved to have gotten through it as I reached the turnoff for I-44.
That relief, such as it was, lasted about a mile and a hzlf. Brake lights appeared off in the distance, and I slowed from just over 60 to just under 60. It wasn't enough. Eventually, I came to a full stop, working diligently to make sure I wasn't tailgating the chap in front of me. All three lanes were halted. I muttered something that technically wasn't under my breath, and two miles of Bataan Death Drive ensued, on the brakes, off the brakes, on the brakes again, repeat several dozen times, and so on, and so on, and scooby-dooby-doo. Various other tortured souls split for the outside lanes; I stuck doggedly to the middle, reasoning, if reason it be, that the most likely source of the problem was to my left, at the I-235 junction, against that stretch of Jersey barrier into which someone's newly-purchased Ram truck tried to embed me a few weeks ago.
As it happens, I was right. I could not have cared less, however; by then, that knee was complaining audibly, or so it seemed, and I didn't even feel like grousing in the direction of the doofus in the Honda who'd fetched up against that concrete wall. It took me rather a long time to get back up to speed, and I resolved not to think about it anymore. That resolution lasted only long enough to creep past Penn Square and slide into the left-turn lane, where I came to an unexpected, and fairly harsh, stop: I'd at least temporarily lost control of that knee, and below that knee was a shoe stuck between gas and brake. It took a minute or so to resume, an eternity in Northwest Distressway traffic, but there were no further incidents.
Still, the experience was a whole lot of Not Good. And I'm just superstitious enough to wonder if I've somehow jinxed myself by making actual retirement plans for next year. I noted at my last medical checkup (which apparently is now priced, with bloodwork, at somewhere around $900, with nominal $40 copay — it was $25 last year — somehow ending up at just this side of $64) that I was retaining more water than Boulder Dam; apparently this was the instance for which I was supposed to step up my daily dose of diuretics. I don't feel any better. Then again, I really didn't expect to.
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