Expecting the Knee

It’s 8:19am on a Monday morning in October. It’s still humid outside, or at least that’s what my throbbing left knee tells me. The top right quadrant is clearly inflamed–at least in my experience–and the pain is radiating around my knee and down into the soles of my feet. My left hip is irritated, too, and my right elbow also appears to be tender and throbbing. I am trying to ignore the pain. In fact, I should be thankful: in this chair, my back doesn’t seem to be acting up. I thought I would get some substantial work done this morning, since I imagined my tense back muscles might be calmed by sleep. But I didn’t expect the knee. I didn’t suspect that it would almost prevent me from getting out of bed this morning.

I’ve been waking early and working on my dissertation before my work on campus begins. 6:40am or 7:30am might seem late to some people, but it is still dark then and might as well be the middle of the night. I love hearing the birds tweet as I think about rhetoric and circulation and the maps, pins, logos, and other artifacts that have contributed to our cultural understanding of Lyme Disease. Most people I know complain about not having–re: taking–enough time to write their dissertations or books and whatever, their attention captured by email and social media and coffee and the bustle of campus life. I am taking the time, but what about these days when my misbehaving body co-opts it?

For the last week or two, I have been reading two texts closely: Laurie Gries’s Still Life with Rhetoric and Jonathan Buehl’s Assembling Arguments. I have been underlining and making notes in the margins and am finally ready to pull quotes (and my thoughts) together–at least the work I’ve done thus far. But now my back is talking to me and I suppose I should do my physical therapy exercises to quiet it down.

My mind is clear, even sharp in the mornings. I am ready to write and think but my body has its own agenda. Even though these texts speak to me, these other noises–the creaks in my knees, back, hips, and ankles–overpower the sounds. Regrettably, I must attend to them.


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