The exam room was small and simple. A diploma hanging on the wall opposite a poster covering the various common injuries of knees. My father an I had come because he had broken his knee two months ago in an accident. We had just sat down when the doctor opened the door.
“Mr. Williams?” Doctor Pierce asked. A well kept man with short gray hair and a light blue button down shirt. His voice and smile were light and friendly. Like that of a pediatrician.
“That’s me!” My father replied with a big toothless grin. “I told the nurse you were going to yell at me.”
“Excuse me?” Pierce asked as he closed the door and grabbed my father’s leg, “Why would I yell at you?”
“I hurt my knee again.” he said, “I can’t hold still. I need to keep busy.”
The doctor looked at my father with a warm smile, processed what he was saying, and inspected the joint.
“The pictures we took of your knee show good bone growth. Everything is healing fine an-”
“I’ve been doing my exercises.” My father cut him off, “I think it’s off. I need my leg back to normal.”
“Good,” the doctor replied, “I’m not seeing anything wrong with your knee. It’s just a little tender and weak, which is to be expected after a break. If you keep up with your exercises, it’ll regain the strength you lost and feel better in eight to ten weeks.”
“Alright,” my father replied automatically. I could see in his face that he didn’t understand what the doctor was telling him.
“I’ll be right back with some paperwork for you to give the front desk,” he said looking at the worn brace in my father’s hand, “and a new brace for you.”
My father nodded as the doctor left the room. I sat in silence, looking over the paperwork my father had come with, until I heard a small sniffle to my right. I looked up to see my father, the man I had always thought was strong, albeit not the smartest, crying like a child.
“What’s wrong, Dad?” I asked, “Does it hurt?”
“No,” he replied, shaking his head, “I just want my leg back to normal. Why isn’t it back to normal?”
It was in that moment that I truly understood that my father couldn’t take care of himself. He didn’t understand something as simple as a broken bone takes time to heal. He didn’t understand why his leg didn’t work the way it did before.
“It’ll be alright, Dad. You just need to take it easy on it for awhile. We’ll get you back to normal. It’ll just take time.” I said trying to comfort him.