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  • Writer's picturekwankew

My Wounded Knee

I came home over two weeks ago. It had been snowing.

Winter in My Backyard
Winter in Wellesley College

At some point when I was in Sarawak, out of the blue I felt very travel weary and longed to be home. I had been away from home for close to seven months aside from the hiatus around Christmas time when I was home. I was actually in my birth country, my homeland but I was longing for America where I have made my home. In my travels I often meet people who quit their jobs and travel the world for a year; some in groups but a few alone. I cannot see myself doing that sort of thing. Traveling can be a lonely affair even if you meet some other travelers along the way. It is not the same as traveling with someone close to you and with whom you can share your intimate thoughts. The longer I was in Asia, more and more words of Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien trickled back to my memory. I was still tongue tight but could respond if the need arose.

I had booked a shoulder appointment with my sports medicine doctor two months ago, that was how far his booking was. My knee still hurt and my chest hurt with deep breathing so I swapped that appointment for my knee to see if I had a fracture or I tore one of my ligaments. After manipulating my knee, he pronounced, “You probably cracked a rib but the good news is you don’t have a fracture in your knee.”

As he rolled his chair to the computer to view my knee x-ray, simultaneously we both noticed a lucent crack across the knee cap.

He exclaimed, “Uh-oh! You have a fracture.”

“But I climbed the Pinnacles in Borneo, a height of over 3,000 ft. and trekked many kilometers in the rain forest and caves.”

“That’s amazing! You must have a high tolerance for pain.”

“Could I run?”



“NO! I have to put your on crutches.”

“Could I get by with a cane?” I was worried about being hampered by a pair of crutches.

“Maybe, it will depend on how stable your gait is. We don’t want the knee cap to pop out. No surgery for now. Knee brace is optional but perhaps you should wear it to remind yourself to slow down. I will see you back in three weeks. No, in two weeks. I don’t trust you.”

When I broke my femur running the Boston Marathon in 2008, I started running on my own schedule in less than three months. In five months I ran a Tufts Health Care 10K for Women and in six months I hiked up to Lenana Point of Mt. Kenya. No wonder he did not trust me.

“Where do I go to get the knee brace?”

“Upstairs on the second floor. USE THE ELEVATOR!” That was his parting shot.

At the Physical Therapy department, I was again taught the mantra of “Up with the good, down with the bad” when walking up and down the stairs. I remember doing just that intuitively when I was climbing the Pinnacles. In fact, it was less painful climbing in that fashion, with good leg up first when climbing up and the bad leg down first going down.

I went home with a cane and a knee brace, disappointed that I will not be able to run the Boston Marathon this April as I had planned in honor and in memory of those affected by the Marathon bombings last year. It snowed heavily and I was soon out shoveling snow off the driveway. My knee injury had not slowed me down. I did not use my cane since I left the clinic. It was hanging off my kitchen island, looking rather lonesome. When I see runners along the Charles I am envious. This is the time when the mileage for the marathon runners for Boston gets longer and longer. I do miss running. It just lets my spirits soar!

Cara and Me
My Children Welcome Me Home: Charles and Me

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