Saturday, October 20, 2012

What A Difference a Day Makes

Well, could you make that a year.  No, how about a decade.  Or two decades--minus one year.

Nineteen years ago, when I was having trouble with my left knee, I had arthroscopic surgery.  I have inherited one of those lovely family genes (from my mother's side) which makes knees (and hips too, I fear) susceptible to extra wear and tear.  As years go by, the grinding increases along with the pain.

Nineteen years ago, my knee decided--yes, it does seem to have a mind of its own--that bending beyond a 90 degree angle was something it would not do.  So, I sought medical help from an orthopedic surgeon.  First stop was an X-ray.  The tech told me to lie on my stomach, and bend my leg as far as I could, so she could take an X-ray pointing down at my recalcitrant knee.  I bent it as far as I could--only to hear her say: can't you bend it more No, I muttered--that's why I am here.

Anyway, the verdict (I suppose I should say diagnosis) was Chondromalacia patella.  It sounds a lot fancier than it is.  In short, it means kneecap pain, which can be caused by wear and tear, torn cartilage, or misalignment of the knee.  Uh huh--I felt like I had all those. 

Eventually, the treatment was an arthroscopic procedure to "clean things out."  I don't know--but there is nothing particularly comforting to me about hearing a doctor say he (or she--but in this case, he) wants to clean things out.  Makes me feel as if I have been an untidy housekeeper of my own self. 

But, I had the procedure.  And, sure enough, I was able to bend my knee more than a 90 degree angle after that.  In my renewed vigor, I thought--well, I can run, and do those wonderful aerobic exercises that help one trim down.  Alas--running caused my knee to balloon in size.  So I stopped that. 

I resigned myself to bad genes and sore knees.  As if I needed final proof, while rummaging through photos in our basement, I came upon a college photo of me in basketball uniform (ooh, remember those cute little basketball pinnies?) and--lo, and behold--I had a brace on my left knee.

Fast forward to 2012.  This year, in a once-again renewed resolve to drop a few pounds, I began cycling (on a stationary bike) as well as continuing my walking of our dog.  I confess, my husband has been walking the dog more than I have, but I do try to get in one walk a day with the dog.  Anyway, the stationary biking turned out to be a bad idea--knee puff again.

So, once again, off to an orthopedic surgeon.  This time, I was less passive--maybe a bit more assertive--and I announced that if I needed a knee replacement, I was ready.  Well, the surgeon said--let's try this.  So first, a cortisone injection, which got me one week of relief.  Not long enough, he admitted, so the next step was an MRI (didn't have that 19 years ago), and arthroscopic surgery.  The MRI showed a torn medial meniscus, hence the anterior pain.

Well, I am now three days post-surgery.  And let's just say--the body doesn't bounce back nearly as fast as it did when I was in my 40s.  And, on top of that, the verdict is:  knee replacement sometime in the future.  How soon?  I will just have to let pain be my guide.

Oh, goody.


Liza Lee Miller said...

Recovery sucks! Hope you are back on your feet and feeling more like long walks with the dog very soon! Hang in there!

NCmountainwoman said...

Hope you have an uneventful recovery and that the gains hold for quite some time. How lucky we are to be getting older in this time of such medical advances. Take care of yourself!

Anvilcloud said...

This is one guy who understands how frustrating it is to not even be able to do supposedly gentle exercises. All the best.

Peruby said...

Recover does take longer than it used to! UGH! Best of luck to you.

Jayne said...

I fear I'll be going down that path at some point too Donna. My mom has had both her right hip and knee replaced, and mine creak like crumbled saltines when I go down steps. No pain yet, but I just have a feeling. Hope you get some relief and can avoid surgery for a while longer.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I feel your pain. I suffer from a painful knee as well as two painful shoulders. The knee(s) I figure suffer from too many years kneeling in a canoe (It was a matter of pride for me that I did not sit on the seat, that being bad form).

I encourage you to get your new knees. My brother has had both a knee and hip replacement (the knee twice). If you remember he and his wife hiked the full length of the Appalachian Trail when around your age. If you would like to talk to him I would get you his phone number.

troutbirder said...

I hope it works for the best. And if it doesn't some unsolicited advice.
Go for the knee replacement. I waited and suffered for 25 years, could barely walk, gave up most activities till a 62 I had it done. Now 8 years later I can still hike for hours and pedal my bike...:)

Ginnie said...

Good luck with your recovery. I'll bet you will do better than you think you will.

Ruth said...

Best wishes in getting over this surgery. Knee replacement may sound like the best option but it is not fool proof in outcome.