Not my actual knee. Photo by Mike Davies
/ by NC-ND 2.0 CC
Last month I had two projects go so spectacularly, horribly wrong at the same that I had to run. Literally run, not run away from the projects, though that would have been lovely. Too bad I have a sense of professional responsibility and a need to pay my rent.
Exercising because I’m stressed out is a new thing for me. Usually I just eat a package of Oreos because I cling to the belief that cookies can fix everything, just like duct tape. However, my body felt so physically tense that even the gross output of the Nabisco factory wouldn’t have helped me, so I went for a walk instead. After a few minutes I realized walking wasn’t enough, so I burst into a run and I ran and ran and ran. While this did not solve my work problems, I did feel like I could go back to work without having an aneurysm.
Although I’d been walking fairly regularly, I’d been avoiding running because my knees are not in the best shape. They hurt a little when I go up stairs, and they hurt a lot when I’ve been going up and down the stairs all day for three days, like when I moved three months ago. They also make this unsettling crunching sound when I bend them, like I’ve got Rice Krispies and milk in my joints. So, I was happy and amazed that I was able to run for several minutes without collapsing on the side of the trail and having to crawl back to civilization.
I started doing intervals the next week, running for a minute and then walking for three minutes. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. This was going really well until it wasn’t, which was when I was lying in bed with achy, achy knees screaming that I was an idiot.
I decided to finally see a doctor about the problem. I had to get x-rays which required me to stand in a lunge position for an uncomfortably long period of time, which seems like the last thing you should ask someone to do when they’re having knee pain. I was referred a to a rheumatologist and the nurse said I was the easiest patient of her day because I was so young and disease free, which made me laugh and laugh and laugh on the inside because I could fill a Bingo card with every type of medical specialist I’ve seen in the past five years. But, whatever, evidently most rheumatology patients have it worse than me, those poor, poor, souls.
I made sure to wear a skirt to the appointment so I wouldn’t have to put on a robe, but I forgot to shave my legs. For some reason I feel like I should be well-groomed when seeing a doctor, like how I brush my teeth before visiting the dentist. It seems polite. But I’m sure he deals with much worse things than leg hair, so I didn’t feel that bad about it. I laid back on the examination table and he bent my legs a variety of ways, which sounds very dirty when I put it like that. But trust me, it was not sexy at all, especially not with the leg hair.
My doc then told me that I have hypermobility syndrome in my knees. (Disturbing photos here courtesy of Google images.) Evidently my knees can bend in ways they shouldn’t. I’m not a flamingo or anything, but I can bend them slightly past vertical when standing. The doctor was also able to rock my lower leg slightly left and right at the knee. All of this means that when I do something that stresses the joints, like walking up the stairs or running, the ligaments and tendons have to work harder to stabilize my knee. Doing this a lot causes pain. He said there really aren’t any drugs to treat this at my stage, and what I really needed to do is NOT RUN.
*Your blogger sobs quietly*
I have never been a fast runner or a particularly good runner, but I like the meditative qualities of running. When I was a baby, my parents could always soothe me by bouncing me up and down. Running is like that. I fall into a rhythm and fall out of the world for awhile. While my body is busy, my mind if free to do what it wants to. I get a lot of thinking done when I run. I’ve written a lot of blog entries in my head when I was running. I like running.
However, I will not be doing any running in the near future, because as much as I love running I like pain-free knees better. The doc recommended swimming, biking or the elliptical machine instead. None of which sound appealing because 1) I don’t know how to swim that well and I’m not crazy about being seen in a bathing suit 2) Bicycle seats hurt and 3) Elliptical machines are only found in gyms and I’d rather be out running on a trail.
Alas, we can’t always get what we want. And despite what the Rolling Stones say, I don’t think I’m going to get what I need either, which is BIONIC KNEES. I still haven’t sorted out what I’m going to do instead of running. I hope I don’t have any projects go horribly wrong anytime soon, because if I can’t run I’ll probably have to smash something instead, and if I run the only thing I’ll smash is my knees.