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Can You Feel The Force

I twisted my knee a while ago. You might think that I did it whilst engaging in my other secret career as an international cat burglar.  Perhaps, dressed in my black onesie and mask, I fell off a guttering after leaving the Embassy in Paris through an atelier window. Oh, zut alors, a loose slate (the roof, not mine) a missed step and voila! Un kilometre de downpipe later and knee knotted up good and proper.

Or there is the other scenario where I twist it as part of my rhythmic gymnastic routine going for Olympic gold. That length of silk ribbon was just a tad too long, coiling like a magical serpent around my unsuspecting and powerful thigh and, 9.5, my knee is knackered.

I could have twisted it on that really craggy bit of the Eiger near the top. The one on the North east bit where you have to turn left at the St Bernard dog. Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton were having a quick Kit-Kat ahead of our ascent and, after getting some silver paper in my eye, I stood up, stumbling about and got my foot tangled in the rope. I headed down. The knee headed up. Ping. Snap. And Bob is your cartilage.

I twisted it pushing a trolley at the library. Trowbridge Library to be precise. No. Seriously, this is the true one. The trolleys, similar to an Ikea wardrobe but on dolls pram wheels, are, shall we say, a little recalcitrant when it comes to moving across the wipe clean carpetting. I was at the end of a longish shelving stint and the trolley, tired of its burden of diesel engine manuals and the Encyclopedia of Crochet, took its revenge. The trolley went in one direction, an unexpected one and, there you have it.  Should my foot be that way round? I thought the toes should point forwards?

Knees are very useful, a thing you don’t fully appreciate until you lose 10degrees from your ROM. That’s medical for ‘Range of Movement’. My knee is slightly crooked at the minute and it has been difficult to walk. A bout of physiotherapy helped considerably. I use the word ‘bout’ advisedly. Essentially you pay a visit to the ex-Heavyweight Champion of Mixed Martial Arts and you lie on their couch. They twist the leg into several increasingly obtuse angles and when you start crying they rub some unguents on it and massage the muscles that they have managed to free up.

Anyway, now everyone has had a go at bending and shaping it and realised that it is ‘hard-locked’ as they say, I was sent for an MRI to see what bit of it has been pranged. My husband suggested looking on this experience from the perspective of a science-fiction film. He suggested ‘Time Tunnel’ as a possible option. Of course, being a bit of a sci-fi geek, he was in his element. The Force strong in this one is.

“When you come out you’ll be Captain America” he laughed over his morning toast. The banter continued. Beam me up, Scottie. And Hulk of course, although you already wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. You get the 3D picture.

An x-ray is like a Victorian photographer igniting their magnesium flash powder at you by comparison with the total Sci-fi that is a 21st century MRI scanner. Even the MRI unit I was probed by, which was in a mobile van in the hospital car park, smacked of ‘Prometheus’.

I had removed all metalwork from my body and was asked if I had any false limbs that I might have forgotten about or, more worryingly, any shrapnel or bullets lodged anywhere? There was that fistfight in the supermarket last week, had that involved gunfire? I thought not, it was mostly courgettes. The Civil War re-enactment the previous weekend was very lifelike. Where did that rogue cannon ball go?

Then, in my stocking feet, I was taken to meet Hal. The door to the Scanning room had a sort of mansize catflap in it that said ‘ESCAPE HATCH’ so I was already at DefCon 1 mentally. As with all medical equipment it was plasticky and intimidating, a vast curved swathe of  matte textured hard white plastic, a punched grille above and slippy leatherette bench before. My dodgy knee was pinned into a clamp of sorts and there were red and green lights flashing. I was given a rubber squeeze thing ‘in case you need us’ and then, with the technicians safely stowed in another cabin I slid into the, well, contraption doesn’t cover it. Space ship? Shuttle? Probe?

“Are you going to be alright?” the technician asked and I lied ‘Yes’.  It’s basically a not very spacious high tech tube and I was already working out my strategy for countering claustrophobia. Time tunnel, Time tunnel, Time tunnel was my mantra. I would have crossed my fingers but they were gripping the rubber squeeze alarm too tightly.  Fortunately, due to the location of the defective knee, I didn’t have to slide all the way in, my head was sticking out. I was reminded of another sci-fi classic ‘Demon Seed’ starring Julie Christie.

I had been given the chance to bring my own CD. I’d chosen carefully and in light of the technological surroundings I opted for ‘Bjork – Medulla’. This, it turns out, is an excellent choice. This album is made entirely with voices, layered and harmonised but only voices, every sound is a guttural growl or throat vibration to create a sound tapestry. It goes perfectly with the mad mayhem of MRI. Pings and whirrs, insane hammering sounds, loud, repetitive strains of metallic origin. And that was before the MRI machine began its peregrinations.

All I can say is I’ve never heard anything like it that wasn’t aboard the Millenium Falcon. I pictured the magnetic thingummajig as the Force itself and, there was a strange music to it. It was otherworldly. I travelled to another planet or two in the fifteen or so minutes it took. Bjork was the music of the spheres. All the fear (at least a skipful) was moved away and I drifted through space and time.

I felt fine afterwards except as I put my trainers back on (footwear of choice apres knee injury) I did notice that my knickers were on over my tights now and of course, there was that slight road rage incident on the way home when those massive adamantine blades shot out of my hands.

Other than that, I’m fine.

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‘a highly original talent’ – Beryl Bainbridge


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