"Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart." -Haruki Murakami, "Kafka on the Shore"

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The Case of the Broken Knee


A one line message from Susan popped up on my screen at work at 3pm on Wednesday:

Just got a call from the school. They think Mason broke his leg.

I managed to bang out “on my way” before locking my computer and trotting out to my truck. I drove, mostly like an ass, as quickly as I have ever driven from my work to Mason’s school. I weaved in and out of traffic, honking and flashing my lights along the way. When I arrived at Mason’s school I threw the truck into park and left it running as I ran into the school. The mental image I had in my head was of Mason laying somewhere with a bone sticking out his leg. I also wondered if the school had a wheelchair or if I would have to carry him out to the car.

When I entered Mason’s room I found him laughing and walking around with is friends. Walking. It was at this point that I realized a wheelchair would be unnecessary.

Once out in the car, the story I got was that Mason had fallen on his knee while playing basketball. There was no doubt to this part; his entire kneecap was already a deep purple. How we got from “bruised knee” to “your son’s leg is broken” it still a mystery.

Susan arrived a few minutes later. She asked how badly his leg was broken and I said, “well, in my day they called it a bruise and gave you some ice.” Mason got out of my truck and got into Susan’s car. I went back to work, and Susan decided to take Mason to the after hours clinic, “just to be sure.”


The after hours clinic on Mustang road felt Mason’s kneecap and then told Susan that they thought it was broken after all. Three x-rays later, they confirmed that Mason’s kneecap was broken. Two of the x-rays didn’t show anything but the third apparently showed part of Mason’s kneecap missing. Based on this third x-ray, Mason received a knee brace and a pair of crutches. We were told to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible. We were also given the three x-rays on a CD-R, which we were to take with us.


The following day (Thursday), Susan got Mason squeezed into a 1pm appointment with Orthopedic Associates. With a kid on crutches and a CD full of x-rays in tow, we arrived for Mason’s appointment.

After viewing the CD, the doctor told us that he could only see x-rays 1 and 2 — number 3 was corrupted. Number three was the one that apparently showed the break. The doctor had Mason do a series of tests, took another x-ray, and then said, “It’s not broken.” So, now we’re back to that diagnosis. His advice was to ditch the crutches immediately and get Mason walking on the leg. He said the brace was optional — Mason could wear it if he wanted, but for no longer than two weeks.


It’s Friday morning. The kids are off school, and I’m staying home with them. Mason and Morgan are currently playing “Nerf Wars,” a game in which they run around shooting one another with Nerf guns. Mason has run up and down the stairs at least a dozen times at full speed, firing Nerf bullets over the railing at Morgan who is hiding behind the cat’s climbing toy.

My diagnosis is, he’s going to be okay.

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3 comments to The Case of the Broken Knee

  • Matt

    The first time you get the call is always the worst. Eventually, you just say ok and calmly drive to get them. Can you tell we have had a few broken bones?

  • Jimmy

    Hmmm…I designed the network system that handles the x-ray data at orthopedic associates. I wonder what caused the corruption..

  • Mom

    After you go through all that anguish over your kids, you feel like SOMETHING ought to be broken at least. Then you’re just grateful it’s not. Then you just look at the kids playing Nerf Wars and are thankful they’re healthy and they’re yours. Bless their little pea-pickin’ hearts.