The Word on the Knee

14Aug08

So…good news first.

My tendons and individual knee…bit…thingies all look fine. X-rays all looked totally normal. How cool is it that my local doctor’s office has an x-ray machine and immediate results? Very cool, that’s how cool. Also, the radiologist let me look at the x-rays, though she said she couldn’t tell me anything about them. Very neat.

Anyway, so all of that was fine. No problem. No cast needed, no bracing, nothing like that.

The bad news is that means it’s almost certainly torn cartilage. And torn cartilage can’t really be fixed. The doctor I had to see actually used to be a professional runner – until he tore the cartilage in his knee by standing up from a grassy knoll (no presidential caravans were nearby, I asked).

He said that if it still hurts in four weeks, I could call the hospital and get an MRI done on it to 100% verify his diagnosis (you can really only see the cartilage with an MRI) but that the only thing they can really DO is surgery to remove the cartilage. And he said there’s actually evidence to suggest that NOT getting the surgery gives you a better chance of recovery. He got the surgery done, and I had the distinct impression that he regretted it.

So…where does that leave me?

With a VERY stern doctor order to not do ANY running-type sport for at least six weeks. And a strong hint that I shouldn’t do it even after that. The cartilage problem means that the shock-absorbing capabilities of my knee are drastically decreased. I’m probably going to develop arthritis in that knee early (awesome. I’m 26 right now.)

So absolutely no impact stuff for me.

He gave me a leg-lift-and-thigh-squeeze exercise to do twice a day, to keep my thighs strong (muscle atrophy from favoring the knee being a problem) and said I could swim (but no breast stroke, or any kick that sent the legs out sideways or twisted them). He also said yoga is awesome, as is pilates, though there will be a few poses I shouldn’t do. He said the elliptical should be okay, but I should listen to my body and not do it if the knee complains. Exercise bike would be best, as it’s always recommended for knee problems.

The irony is that one of the suggestions for helping is weight loss.

Feel free to let the humor of that soak in. Marinate in it.

Well, no use crying over spilt milk. I actually own an elliptical, so this morning I got up and ran on that for about ten minutes. My problems with the elliptical are threefold.

1) Even at the lowest setting, I cannot “cool down” while using it. My thighs still burn. So I can’t push harder till I need to rest, then crank the setting down and let my muscles relax, then crank it back up. Standing still is a bad idea when you’re in the middle of the workout, so I have to actually get off the machine and walk around. My apartment isn’t really suited to this, since I can’t stay in the room, and have to wander around – you know, by the kitchen, by the computers, by my bookshelves. So many opportunities to stop. Even when I try to be good, it’s tough.

2) I get bored. Seriously. I find myself going for shorter and shorter time periods because my brain screams at me to find something for it to do. I’ve tried reading, but my hands get sweaty and the constant head bouncing makes it hard to follow small print. I’ve tried watching episodes (Batman cartoons for the win!) but then I ran out and didn’t have anything to watch. Bummer.

3) My doctor seemed kinda iffy on me using it. It’s low impact, sure, but it does crank the knee up perilously close to the point where it hurts. When I used it this morning, there were a few times that I twinged it, and I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing – to ride the line so closely.

My husband and I talked, and we don’t want to get a gym membership yet. The elliptical was expensive, and that makes me stubborn and determined to eke the cash out of it. I can’t replace it with a treadmill – not only am I on a second floor apartment and wish not to incite murderous rage in my neighbors, but that’s impact again – and I don’t know if I’d use the bike. I never liked the bike in the past. Plus, where would I keep it? The elliptical was taking up the space where normal people would keep a dining room table. Now it’s smooshed up next to the couch in the living room. I want it to be in sight (I am very much an out of sight, out of mind kinda person) but I don’t want to trip over it thirty times a day.

So…I’m in a holding pattern. I will replace the running with the elliptical for now. I’m thinking about trying some audio books or something to attempt to alleviate the boredom while on the machine.

Anyone know where I can get free books to slap on an ipod? I don’t have a walkman, and don’t really want one. I also don’t have a CD or tape player other than in my car.

Aside from the elliptical, I’ll be doing yoga when I get home, and lifting weights in the mornings (except today, when I forgot. doh! I’ll do them tonight though, no worries!) and maybe adding in some of the :08 butt-kicking exercises as well, if I can get up early enough.

So that, my friends, is the word on the knee.

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7 Responses to “The Word on the Knee”

  1. I get down loadable books from the library for free! As far as low impact exercise i don’t do the biking thing well, it’s getting better but i have to admit it’s walking that does it for me. Now my daughter likes the elliptical ;) I think your just going to have to figure what’s good for you. Have a great day anyway and at least you don’t have to have a cast on!

  2. You can download some podcasts which are free – that might help. I can’t do the elliptical WITHOUT music b/c it gets too boring too. With music, I’m cruising.

    And it definitely took me a while to work up to a good long session. The motion, while similar to running, is different and takes a while IMO for your body to get used to it.

    Good luck and I’m glad it’s nothing requiring a cast etc.

  3. @suzanne
    Downloadable from the library? hmm, that sounds promising!

    Walking twinges the knee – I can feel fine when I start and about ten minutes into it, I’ve got sparks of pain with every step. I will very dearly miss the afternoon walks my husband and I used to go on.

    Oh, definitely happy to not have a cast. And not just because I hate wearing skirts!

    @gemfit
    Where do I find podcasts? Itunes? (I know, I know, crawl up out of the technology hole I’ve been living in and learn, Ninja!)

    I’m definitely glad to hear that someone else thinks the elliptical isn’t exactly plug-n-play. Makes me feel more confident to keep going. Thanks!

  4. The library and podcasts are both EXCELLENT suggestions! Also, I find that netflixing really terrible romantic comedies works for me. I pop one in, watch half and then the other half is waiting for me for the next workout!

  5. @FBG
    *laughs* I use Netflix for truly awful movies, too!! The stuff I wouldn’t dare buy, but secretly want to watch even though I know it’ll be bad. It’s like brain popcorn.

  6. For podcasts, I go to iTunes (under “podcasts” on the main shop page) and browse from there. If you find something you really like, you can subscribe and everytime you plug into iTunes, it will automatically download new episodes. Some of them are really interesting!

  7. @Gemfit
    Got any suggestions? ^.^


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