Strictly speaking, it's called a "patella dislocation," but when you're screaming in agony under a pool table with your lower leg sticking out at a disturbing angle, such things are rather trivial.
A dislocation of the knee usually occurs when the patella pops free of the cartilage and whatnot which normally keeps it in position and migrates round to the side of one's leg, preventing movement of that joint and grinding against other bones. Needless to say, it's exceedingly painful. It's usually caused by a large force being applied perpendicular to the knee joint; losing control while skiing is a common cause, and forcibly twisting one's feet round back to front as a party trick is a rather less common cause.
Guess which one of those two causes was why I dislocated my knee last night?
Now I had been able to do strange contortionist acts with my feet previously; turning one of them 180 degrees so it pointed backwards, twisting them so they both face inwards, and turning them both all the way round past the horizontal while my fellow student bums marvelled at my gloriously flexible feet. And I had been able to do this many, many times beforehand with no ill effects or pain. So it came as a complete and utter shock to me when a disturbing plup! noise emanated from my left knee, and the next thing I knew I was collapsed in a heap under the aforementioned pool table in some pain. What was really worrying, as an aside, just how many of my audience thought that that was part of the act, and so fell about laughing. The rest of them simply bolted because they hadn't any idea what to do.
With the aid of the Student Union staff, an ambulance was called and I found myself having to repeat the whole sorry tale multiple times to them. One of them asked how drunk I was. I said that I was stone-cold sober, and that I didn't drink.
"Pity," said the First Aid bloke. "It would have cushioned the blow, so to speak."
So then the paramedics arrived at around 11.30pm and had a poke about at my knee, and told me that it'd not be too difficult to reset, but it'd hurt. Tsk, I thought. As if I wasn't already in enough agony. So they passed me a plastic device with a mouth-sized tube on one end and a hose going into the other and told me to suck it. I sucked it. Nitrous oxide. As a result I didn't feel a thing, but then again, I was too busy being super happy and on top of the world, especially when I was stretchered out of the building past crowds of students queuing for entry to the Union's nightclub, and so when any of them made sarcastic comments I simply giggled and waved. Yes, I looked like a fuckwit, but a happy fuckwit rather than an evil-minded fuckwit.
So they got me to St Thomas' Hospital and wheeled me to Accident & Emergency, where I vegetated for about 50 minutes before I was wheeled to a cubicle with a curtain and told to remove my trousers. Now although my knee may have been in the correct configuration by this point, it was swollen to the size of a small grapefruit, and although I could move it, I was reluctant to because it a) hurt, and b) I didn't want to pop it back out of its hole again.
While laying on a trolley with my trousers round my ankles, I had a look and listen to my fellow, erm, inmates. One of them had passed out in her own vomit in a drunken stupor and, when the doctors thought she was out of speaking range, they fulminated over the sheer stupidity of her condition. When she finally awoke, a shaven-headed gentleman took some photos of her in the hospital bed, to which she flipped the bird. I was glad to see that minor alcohol poisoning had not dimmed her spirits.
So at about 1.45am in came a doctor called Samantha. She poked and prodded and squoze my knee to see if there'd been any complications. There weren't, but I was still required to go and have the offending joint X-rayed. Then I was dumped back on the trolley and left to wait.
At 3.10am after more poking and prodding in came a doctor called Miles who put some Tubigrip on my knee and gave me a pair of crutches and and some Dicloflex, which I was to take thrice a day. And they turfed me out.
With the aid of a minicab (I was in no state to walk home; never having used crutches) I arrived back at my halls of residence at about 3.40am.
So what did I learn? I think from now on I won't try any foot-twisting tricks ever again. I also learnt that Casualty and ER and other hospital dramas have nothing on real life. There's no heart-attack-a-minute sagas, or trysts in the sluice rooms. Just people like myself and Ms. Alcohol Poisoning across the corridor - arseholes who do silly things.
I just hope I can stump my way into college in time for lectures this week...