October 02, 2005

See, the water really is scary.

At Michele's small party yesterday I became a pool casualty, a statistic on the terrible consequences of leaping into freezing water with one's mental acuity diminished by beer and overheated lightheadedness. To wit, I aimed my jump left instead of right, landed in about five feet of water, and smacked my left knee on the pool bottom with staggering force. I don't appear to have broken, sprained or dislocated anything, but I have an impressive bruise over pretty much my entire kneecap as well as a very interesting twinge that suggests to me it would really be a better idea to learn to walk stiff-legged than to bend my knee with any weight on it.

Jacob's remark last night was that I had been "surprisingly stoic about it". My only explanation is that I was so shocked by how much it actually hurt that my reflexive pouting and attention-seeking were temporarily short-circuited. As you can see, they're now on-line and functioning within normal parameters.

I'm working on a harebrained, but plausible, theory about the workings of the knee (harebrained but plausible being a major specialty of mine) and would like input from anyone with more anatomical knowledge than I. From my brief Google work this morning I've found that the kneecap (patella) is held in place in a saddle of cartilage (which keeps it from moving side to side) by vertical ligaments (which keep it from moving up and down). Bending the knee pulls the ligaments tight and holds the kneecap close to the cartilage saddle where it can't move sideways. Straightening the knee relaxes the ligaments and holds the kneecap less tightly in the cartilage saddle, so that between the stretchiness of the ligaments and the slight separation from the cartilage saddle it has slightly more wiggle room. Ergo, if a knee is smashed at an oblique angle into a hard surface, the likelihood of it being laterally dislocated is less in a bent position than in a straight position, but if a knee is going to be dislocated no matter what then a straight position gives the ligaments more room to stretch without tearing.

Now someone please tell me if that's right? And no, this doesn't bear on my personal knee, which is merely bruised. I just, you know, want to know.

Hey! Look over there! Ancient evil is funny.

Posted by dianna at October 2, 2005 04:32 PM

I just asked my mom, who is a radiologist, and she said that, broadly speaking, you're correct. She then rattled off some exceptions which I completely failed to understand or pick up on. The phrase "Sub-fluxing Patella" was used. But the sense I got is that your theory would be right in most cases, particularly if the person in question has a normal skeleton and normal configuration of knee muscles, ligaments, and cartilage. She cautions, however, that there are a huge number of variables in an injury, the angle, the force, any torque, movement by the knee itself, etc. and that it's possible for a given injury that a bent knee would be more likely to dislocate than a straight one, or that a straight knee would sustain more damage than a bent one.

She also added that, while this is broadly within the scope of her specialty, this particular question isn't really her bailiwick, and that a sports medicine specialist is likely to know more about cause-and-effect than her.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: Zach S. at October 2, 2005 05:26 PM

Though for my part I know shit-all about knees, I do know something about you, so I hope this helps too:

Ohmygod! Dude! Ow! Are you okay? You poor silly drunk thing!

Posted by: katie at October 3, 2005 06:01 PM

I will actually maintain that I was not drunk. The reason I will do this is that it was approximately 9:00 pm and I had had, since 5:00 pm, slightly less than one-and-a-half beers, and if I was drunk that's more embarrassing than the knee-smacking itself.

They were very good beers, though. McTarnahan's Cream Porter, nicely tepid. You know, a friend of mine in high school used to bring spicy V-8 as his lunch drink only because he hated sharing and knew no one would want to ask him for a sip of something so patently gross. Me, I absolutely never have to worry about anyone at a party mooching off my beers.

Posted by: Dianna at October 3, 2005 07:03 PM


The only part of that that sounds good is the "cream." I would fling myself headfirst into the shallow end too if that was all I had to drink.

Posted by: katie at October 3, 2005 09:34 PM

Knees first. Knees first!

Posted by: Dianna at October 4, 2005 08:53 AM