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Posts Tagged ‘arthritis’

Determination

It’s been almost two years since I had surgery on my knee. I’ve recovered about 85% of my mobility and every day it gets easier to forget I spent the better part of 2008 hobbling around with a limp.

There’s still that 15% that reminds me I’m not completely whole. I have osteoarthritis in both knees.  I can’t get down on my hands and knees with ease and getting back up is just as difficult. Both of my knees click now and both ache constantly if I don’t take at least one naproxen (Aleve) every day. I’m trying to transition to taking glucosamine instead of naproxen, but a few days without the naproxen left my knees screaming. So naproxen it is for now.

If I’ve taken my naproxen I can ascend stairs like a normal person. That right there is a huge accomplishment. For a year and a half I was only able to take the steps one at at time. Step up with the right foot, bring the left foot up, step up again with the right foot, bring the left foot up. Now I can take one step with the right and the next step with the left. Sometimes I’m even able to do that while carrying a laundry basket and when I’m at work I will try to take some of the steps around campus without clinging to the railing.

Now that I’m exercising again, I’m starting to miss what my body used to be capable of. I used to be able to spend 45 minutes on an elliptical machine. I used to be able to run if I wore a very good sports bra and I used to be able to get down on the carpet with my daughter and play with her.

Lately I’ve been tempted to get back on the elliptical again. My orthopedist has told me the elliptical, as low impact an exercise as it is, still puts too much strain on my knees.  You need to stick to swimming, he says. Swimming with a paddle board using a straight leg kick.

Screw that.

I want to sweat. I want to feel my legs and heart pound after a workout. I want to soak my clothes with perspiration and wash the stink off me with a nice, hot shower afterward. Hell, sometimes I even want to run and I hate that I have these bum knees that limit my options.

I think it’s possible. Of course I don’t want to damage my knees further, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve done absolutely everything I’ve needed to do to become whole again. I haven’t been doing the isometric exercises my orthopedist prescribed to strengthen the muscles around the knee. They’re not hard exercises, just…boring, and until I start doing them and strengthen those muscles, I can’t go back to my orthopedist and ask him what we need to do to get me back on the elliptical.

I am, however, losing weight, and the more weight I take off my body, the more strain I take off my knees. So far I don’t feel it. I don’t feel as though my joints are under any less stress than they were four months ago. I think I’m going to have to lose a lot more before my knees start thanking me for my efforts.

Maybe my desire to get 100% of my pre-accident mobility back is born out of denial. My osteoarthritis is only going to get worse as I age and maybe I don’t want to admit there are things I’ll never be able to do again.

But maybe I’m a little bit like John Locke from “Lost.”

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do!”

What I can do is lose the weight. And that’s a start.

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