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
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!