Hey ma, look! I’m improving!

The day has hardly begun, and already I’m seeing a positive turn in life.

I’ve been struggling with mystery knee pain since May of this year. I woke up one morning, went to get out of bed, and couldn’t walk. My knees, both of them, just gave out on me. I didn’t have an accident, I didn’t injure myself. I hadn’t been particularly active really up until that point. It had always been my tail bone and my back that had been the primary pain issue (as I had sustained significant injury in April 2014 to my tailbone, and I’ve had back issues since I was 12 years old). So this caught me entirely by surprise. On June 30th, I went to see my doctor and together we tried to figure it out. He was just as stumped as I was. So, he has me do an X-Ray, and it shows some narrowing of the cartilage. But that’s about it. From the X-ray, there wasn’t even enough damage, in his experience, to warrant the complete and utter non-function of my knee. Now, my right knee gives me trouble from time to time, but it comes and goes with the weather. But my left… my left has been as if death itself has been sitting on my knee, stabbing it with a knitting needle, and laughing as he watches me stumble around trying to get to the bathroom. It’s been horrible. Up until May, I’ve always had very strong legs. Even when I wasn’t very active, they were the one part of my body I never had to worry about. Until now.

Cut through months of PT and pain management, and I finally get my MRI done. It, too, doesn’t show much. Just that there’s some ligament damage that appears to be from normal wear and tear. This is when I had to stop doing PT for a while simply because life got hectic and I couldn’t find the time to even call and make an appointment, let alone keep it. We’ve also had car issues during this time as well.

Cut to last week. I saw my doctor on Tuesday for a pain med refill and a new referral script for PT. Since I never got the referral call and info about seeing the specialist over a month prior, I followed up on that while I was there. Turns out, I was supposed to have seen that doctor a few weeks back… I just never got the call and info from the specialist’s office in the first place. So, my doctor shamed that doctor into giving me the first available appointment. That was Thursday.

Thursday, as they say in Skyrim, I took an arrow to the knee. Got a cortisone shot, hoping to hell it works.

Now then, I go through all of this tale about my knee in order to say that because of this, I’d forgotten what it was like to be pain free without having to take a pain medication. It’s still sore as hell, and will be for the rest of my life no matter what I do. Even surgery will leave me with residual pain, should I ever have to take that route. But I had not realized that the pain I was feeling in such a small part of my leg had become so intense and consuming that it was having such a drastic impact on not just my mental and physical state, but on my life and those around me. Since getting the shot, I’m waking up each day in a better mood. I’m not snapping at my husband all the time over the tiniest little thing. I’m able to watch my son and laugh and really enjoy playing with him instead of sitting in a chair and just watching, simply because I can’t stand to move my leg even an inch without wanting to scream.

We still don’t know exactly what happened to my knee yet. We do know it’s a combination of arthritis and natural wear/tear. The specialist, after looking over my medical records, looking at the recent X-Ray he had me do at his office, as well as the one from back in June, AND my MRI results, AND listening to me recount my physical activity levels of the last 5 years seems to think that I already had arthritis in my knee,. Further testing will determine what type it is. Had I continued my NORMAL levels of activity prior to 2010 (moderate to light) my knee could have lasted well into my late 30s or 40s before showing signs of acute damage. However, starting in 2010, my physical activity suddenly jumped from moderate-light to straight up heavy and intense. This was due to unavoidable life changes, and as a result if I wanted to get to a doctor’s appointment or the library, my butt was walking across town. After mom and I got access to a car periodically, my activity went back down to normal levels for about 2 years (broken only by a 6 month stint in Florida, where I again walked nearly everywhere and to a much greater extent than here in Georgia). In 2013, my grandmother died and we inherited her car, so my activity saw a drastic drop again… Until I met my husband. At that point, I spent a lot of time at his place before moving in, and we walked nearly everywhere. When I got pregnant, I continued walking nearly everywhere. I also was working at the time – a job standing on my feet for 6-7 hours 3 days a week. I worked this job up until I went into labor. Needless to say, I had put my knees through the wringer frequently and for long periods of time, going from very light activity straight into hard and intense.

This, my specialist believes, is what has accelerated my condition to this point. Basically, his best theory is that I “walked too much”. Also, during all of that time, I didn’t have good walking shoes. This only compounded the problem, as now my feet also periodically act up and I must forever wear inserts in any pair of shoes I ever own.

Anyway, now that I’m a few days out from “taking the arrow” and the pain from that procedure has started to wear down, again I had no idea the extent to which the pain had affected my life. I can’t run, but I sure as hell can walk around my house. I can at least use a cane now when I’m out in public and not have to restrict myself to the scooty carts, or avoid stairs like they’re the plague. Yeah, the cold bothers my knees a bit, just as it bothers my back and shoulders and neck and feet. But I can deal with a little dull ache if it means I get just a little bit of my mobility and life back.

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