After years of pain, and avoiding many things in life because of it, my orthopedic specialist has discovered that I have Patellofemoral arthritis.
Which means: I have no cartilage in my right knee.
I remember first hurting my knee at winter camp when I was in high school. I was running up stairs to get something… and POW! Something popped… and I have had pain off/on ever since. But I also decided to play softball in high school, college and in my early twenties… and I usually got put in the catchers’ position. Yup – really great on the knee!
And I also played volleyball throughout high school… yup, another great sport for the knee.
One could guess that I’d be in this position in my mid-30s… and here I am.
I can barely kneel down to scrub the tub. And getting up off the floor is no longer graceful. I can only barely walk up and down stairs… and going down the stairs is more scary than going up. So, I simply avoid it altogether.
Sometimes the pain is excruciating. Sometimes it’s just a dull pain… but the pain is always there.
After years of Dr’s visits (my general practioner) where he just prescribed pain medication (which I usually just stuck at the back of the drawer), followed by a cortisone shot (that worked great at first and then wore off at about month 4)… I finally pleaded with him to send me to a specialist.
They took an x-ray. I had an exam… where he guessed what was going on. Then he ordered an MRI (which I hated – more on that later). And he had been right with his initial guess. I don’t have any ligament or meniscus damage… but neither do I have any cartilage to speak of.
So, now what? Well, until the wise people of this world figure out how to recreate cartilage there’s not a lot you can do. He suggested against knee replacement (at y weight it’s not an ideal solution) – and from the sounds of it he doesn’t like doing knee replacement surgeries on people under 60. Apparently the man-made joint wears out after about 10 years and it has to be replaced. Which means another replacement surgery.. ick!
I could have a patellectomy… which means, remove the knee cap. But that limits motion and range… NO THANKS! I can continue to manage the pain just fine, thank you!
He also explained that when I have a pain “flare up” I can come in for an injection that will help with lubricating the joint. That will eventually wear off… and then I can get another injection when needed.
So, now what?
Now I continue to lose weight… he confirmed this should be one of my first steps. And he provided safe exercises that will limit more damage to my knees.
Now I twist my husband’s arm to do the cleaning that involves kneeling.
Now we think about our housing situation. He advised against living in a multi-level place. We are currently selling our place and looking at new homes (to potentially buy)… multi-level homes may be out of the equation.
Now I take 2 naproxen twice a day and keep an ice pack with me at work for after my morning rides.
And this morning… I rode nearly half a marathon. 11.7 miles in 45 minutes. I set the bike on a random hill setting, range in workout level from 1 – 14. (Can you still call it a “marathon” if you are riding?! Or only when you run?! ‘Cuz I wouldn’t be able to run it… )
And now… off I go for my second dose of naproxen…