I woke up in the middle of the night, my knee dislocated. It’s a pretty weird sensation to go from fast asleep & totally relaxed to in screaming agonising pain in 0.324 seconds. It’s not uncommon for me–I’ve had dislocations because of my hypermobility for years, but it doesn’t make it any less weird.
So, today I’ve spent most of my time in bed. I’ve taken painkillers, and had a hot water bottle on my knee most of the day. (OH, and a cat–cheers, Liz). I’ve managed, through the haze of pain, to get some work done–a little PhD reading, and some writing. But it’s really hard to concentrate when your knee is painful.
I’ve been waiting for this to happen. Despite my chronic pain being suck-y these last couple of months, as it always is in the colder weather, I hadn’t had a dislocation for a while. It was almost a relief when it happened–not because of the pain, but because it happened in my bed, in my sleep, because my kneecap relocated itself almost immediately.
In the last few weeks I’ve pushed my body a bit too far.
Last week I was in a play. It was SO MUCH FUN, and I had a blast. I worked all day, then every night for a week (including tech and dress rehearsal), I acted. There was a lot of running around, and physically, it was pretty exhausting.
Then on Monday, I travelled to Essex to see one of my closest friends. I had the best time. We took part in a Harry Potter quiz and had Hogwarts themed cocktails. I pretty much grinned all night. I hadn’t seen her in SO long, and it was lovely to catch up. Buuut, I had to stand on the train all the way there, and standing is painful.
Yesterday, I headed to campus for a really interesting seminar on academic writing. Even though I drive an automatic, and as such, wasn’t driving with my ‘bad’ knee, it hurt. When my left knee is bad, I tend to overcompensate by leaning on my right knee, and then my right knee gets bad! It’s basically a self destructive circle of pain.
And then today. At first, I got a little angry with myself. If I hadn’t gone to Essex, or been in a play, or gone to uni, then my knee might not have dislocated. It’s the constant tension in my life–do I protect my knee by not doing things, or do risk a dislocation and go out? It’s a hard line, and one that fluctuates. But in this instance, I’m so glad I spent last week on stage, filled with adrenaline from the acting. I’m grateful I got to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in months, and got to be part of a quiz about Harry Potter (I mean, that’s the dream, right?) I’m really glad I went to the seminar yesterday, because one line about critical reading really resonated with me, and I’m going forward in my research with that in mind.
Even though I spent today in bed, feeling a little sorry for myself, it was worth it. It’s just something that happens to a person who’s hypermobile–every now and again we need a rest day. Here’s my plan: I’m going to rest, recover, and not feel guilty about it. Then I’m gradually going to get back into exercise. But most of all, I’m not going to punish myself for something that happens to my body. Dislocation is a thing that happens to me, but it doesn’t define me. It’s a part of my life, but not my entire life.
This blogpost was written spontaneously, when I was feeling all kinds of things after a particularly bad hypermobile day. Writing it was cathartic and freeing, and I thought I’d publish it to give people an idea about what living with a disability/chronic pain/hypermobility is like.