I received bad news on Wednesday: I have arthritis in my knee. This is a consequence of my 1999 fracture, and was recently aggravated by overexercising. The doctor didn’t exactly say it was an “arthritis flare-up,” but I guess you could call it that. I still choose to call it a sports injury, though. After all, I did this to myself while doing sports.
The orthopedist showed me the x-ray. It was obvious once he pointed it out to me. Why this didn’t show up in the 2005 x-ray I don’t know. It is the same pain, the same injury. Or should I put quotation marks around it? “Injury.” There.
The doctor prescribed exercises, two Aleve tablets twice daily for two weeks, and ice at night. The pain should clear up, and I’ll be able to walk fine after that.
Then he said, “No running, no walking.”
I said, “I can’t, right now. I can’t walk much at all.”
He said, “If you do, you’re looking at a knee replacement.”
“No running, no walking. You can walk to the gym and work out like crazy. You can work out on the elliptical, do the stairmaster, and the exercise bike. As a matter of fact, the exercise bike is the best thing for this. But no high-impact sports. If you run or do lots of walking, your knee isn’t going to last much longer.”
“You mean, until this clears up, right.”
“Even after. And by the way, you’re not a good candidate for knee replacement surgery, because of your nutritional issues.”
Thus begins my new life. Laps around the track with the sun just peeking up on the horizon is a thing of the past. Victory Field track is past tense now. I can kiss the treadmill goodbye. My last run was May 16. I ran two miles at the gym and walked seven. Then…my last run was running after a bus. Imagine that.
I have spent many minutes and hours grieving over this. It didn’t hit me at first. Yes, I cried on the bus ride home. I always cry on buses. I’ve cried on every bus I’ve ridden since I found out the diagnosis. And I’m not done crying.
So I’m going to make adjustments. Life is adjustment. I’m going to work the hell out of the elliptical as soon as my knee can take it, and pretend that I’m running. I’m going to climb the eight flights of my building. I’m going to inflate my fitness ball and do core strengthening at home. I’m going to work my upper body. I’m going to strengthen my legs as much as I can, especially my quadriceps, which is the prescribed treatment for this disorder. If it means showing up at the gym just about every day, well, I will. So long as I can walk there, I’ll be there.
I have a secret to developing upper body muscles: It’s not circuit-training or freeweights. The secret is to get injured and spend about three weeks on crutches. That is all you need. Get ripped, baby, get ripped.
I am able to walk Puzzle fast now. My secret to this is to continue to use my cane. If I place the cane down at the same time as I step with my right leg, I can lessen impact. I’m going to teach myself to place the cane down a split second before I step, to further lessen impact. I am going to set a limit at a mile, and this time, stick with it.
Now that I am following the doctor’s advice, I am in a lot less pain. I don’t need crutches at this point. I use one crutch if I’m carrying a heavy load on my back. I am going to take my cane on the bus tonight just to make sure I get a seat. I should just be able to ask for one, anyway. There’s a sign that says that no one can deny a seat to a passenger, or reserve a seat. Except for once, I have always easily gotten a seat in the front “accessible” row of the bus. I will only need to do to sit up front for the next couple of weeks. I guess for now I’ll be special.
I don’t feel very special, though. The high point of my day, my run, has been taken from me. I am grieving. Arthritis…an old ladies’ disease. I feel ashamed. Of course, I got it from a fracture I had at 41, not from being “old,” but still, arthritis is arthritis, and it is not going to get better.
I hope I don’t write about it all that much, but I fear that I will, only because it’s such an issue for me not to be running. Exercising has taken on a whole new meaning now. It serves a different purpose.
I told my therapist today that like my leg in 1999, I feel broken. I feel broken by my eating disorder, which is responsible for giving me osteoporosis (thinned bones), which is the reason my femur broke in the first place. My therapist said that my eating disorder is responsible for the arthritis pain I feel in my knee, because it was caused by compulsive overexercising. My eating disorder has broken my life.
Well, Sunday I’m going to the gym. I’m going to work out as much as my a____ knee will allow. Soon, I’ll be able to do more, after the pain clears up. But Sunday, I’m going to find a bar somewhere, and, using my newfound upper body and arm muscles, I’m going to lift myself up off the floor.