Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Leg to Stand On

It started sometime early in August, around the time I'd increased my walking regimen from 6000 steps to 10,000 steps per day. All at once my left knee became very particular and persnickety. It liked to walk, and walk I did. But it developed a peculiar dislike for the edge of a chair, especially the edge of the elevated bar stools where we eat most of our meals in the kitchen. It progressed to complaining on a car ride longer than an hour. Then it got insistent on only one sleeping pose. But it was inconsistent, and because of that, I came to believe it would shape up on its own, and walked some more, partly because I liked it and partly because it liked walking.

Four to six weeks later, it was no better. Truth be told, it was worse. I could no longer kneel and when I would set out to walk it would take a couple of hundred steps before the discomfort settled down. And then it got much worse, to the point where yesterday, when it migrated loudly to the front of the knee,  I knew there was something terribly wrong and phoned the doctor, who -- thank goodness -- could see me right after dinner.

It was a long day. Awful things went in and out of my mind. I'd seen friends who had knee replacements, and noted the long haul of getting back to whatever the  new normal was going to be. I'd worked on a hospital ward where leg bones were attacked by cancerous tumors. And my years as a medical transcriptionist had exposed me to a variety of knee and leg conditions, one of the more melodious being tear of the medial meniscus (a 1-1/2 page report, usually). By dinnertime I was in tears, partly from the pain, partly from the guilt at not listening to Himself when weeks earlier he has suggested seeing the doctor, and partly from fear of the outcome.

He graciously agreed to not only drive me to the doctor but to accompany me into the exam room. Dr. S. listened attentively to my absolute tale of woe, with Himself filling in some forgotten details, made notes on her little laptop and then, without so much as a worried look said, "I can tell you exactly what this is."  And she did. It is "patellofemoral pain syndrome" and is common among women and athletes. She explained that in my case she believed it to have been brought on by taking on a serious walking program without quadriceps strengthening. The solution, she said, involved ibuprofen, ice, cutting back on the walking, and physical therapy for which she would write a prescription. She also took the precaution of ordering an x-ray, but believed it would reveal nothing of interest.

Heaving a sigh of relief and nearly letting those tears come out, I asked again about the name of the condition. It was unfamiliar. When she said, "It used to be called chondromalacia patella," I brightened. Of course.  I remembered that lovely, rhythmic name from the medical transcriptionist era. I had developed a little tune to say it with (but I won't try to reproduce that here). It was like meeting up with an old friend acquaintance I hadn't seen in years. But one I didn't care to get to know any better, nonetheless.

Clutching my prescriptions, I hobbled out of the office and to the car. Then we did the only sensible thing a body could do: Stopped for a therapeutic small Blizzard to take home. Small, I said. Chocolate. With Heath Bar. And it did me at least as much good as the ice and ibuprofen that followed.

PS: The graphic above is from this blog and now that I've discovered it, I will visit it frequently because I am convinced the artist is a genius. She doesn't say anything about not borrowing her work, and I've always been the sort to ask forgiveness rather than permission. Check her out; I bet you'll be smitten, too!


Barbara Anne said...

Whew!!! Joy! Only some mild pills, simple treatments, and tincture of time until you should be right as rain.

As a nurse, I can certainly relate to all the dire possibilities that come to mind with every twinge. Then I remind myself that most people really do die of old age. That thought has kept me sane for the last 45 years!

DH and I comment occasionally and wistfully about all those past years when body parts did their jobs well and without making themselves known. Sigh!

Wishing you well.


antique quilter said...

so happy for you , a blizzard was the perfect reward !
LOL take care of yourself!

Janet O. said...

What a tale! I enjoyed it all--except the fact that you are in pain, of course. : )
I am only at 6464 steps today, but the day is young. I should mow our lawn--that gets over 10,000 for DH right away! You and my daughter are the two reasons we got our Fitbits.
I hope you heal quickly and can get back out walking!

AnnieO said...

I wondered where chondromalacia patella went! I'm not transcribing for Ortho any more, but agree that one was fun to say:). Hope yours gets better soon! Loved the drawings !

LizA. said...

Glad to hear its not as serious as you had feared...I'm like you, stick my head in the sand and hope it gets better rather than call a doctor.and yes, there is nothing that ice cream cannot cure....