Doc (in Vietnamese accent): "How you now?"
Me: I'm not any better. I can't move my knee, I can't run and I can't cycle. And my knee swells every day. I'm not happy.
Doc: You need to move more. Why you not doing more?
Me: Because I CAN'T. I have no range of motion and a lot of discomfort. I have felt every single step for the past almost 7 weeks.
Doc: Lie back. Tell me when and where it hurts. (Proceeds to bend, twist, wiggle and kind of jerk my knee in all possible positions. I was sweating by the end) Your right leg is much weaker than it was last time. Much weaker.
Doc: Sit in chair. Bend left knee as far as possible. (pause) Now do right knee.
Me: This is as far as it goes (around 90*).
Doc: Pull with hands. As much as you can.
Me: (groaning) This is as far as it goes.
Doc: Back on table. You have fluid in knee and lots of inflammation. I will drain you and give cortisone.
Me: Ummm. OK then.
10 minutes later. The tech comes in and cleans my knee with betadine, and sets out a 60cc syringe with an 18 gauge needle on it. I know this, I use those things. It is a fairly large bore needle. Not trauma large, but....
Me: I don't think I want to watch this.
Tech: We don't really want you to watch, either.
Me: I'm good with that.
10 minutes later. Doc and Tech come in and we are all one big happy family gathered around Sarah's knee.
Me: So, how much is this going to hurt?
Doc: Less than blood draw if you don't move. He hold foot (and Tech grabs hold of my foot). If you don't move, won't hurt. (Inserts needle) Only hurts when people move and then needle move and then that causes pain, but if you don't move, there is little pain. (Massaging my knee all this time) I just need a little time to get fluid out. You feel that now? That is cortisone going in. And now we finished. (I start to move) No, don't move yet. He has to clean you up. Come back and see me in 6 weeks. Don't do too much for a day or too, let cortisone take effect. Oh, and get Physical Therapy. That will be best for you. Make appointment for 6 weeks. (Leaves) For the record, I give blood on a fairly routine basis, and this hurt much less than that. Doc was right.
Me: So, what can I do today?
Tech: (cleaning my knee and applying a lovely bandaid) Anything you want.
Tech: Yeah. I mean, don't go running or cycle 100 miles, but yeah, you can do what you want. Ok, we're all done here. You can put your shoe back on. (Hands me my shoe)
Me: (bending my right knee to put my shoe on) HOLY CATS!!! This is the first time in almost 7 weeks that I can bend my knee enough to get my shoe on! This is amazing!
Tech: (grinning) Yep.
Me: (looking at syringe with lots of yellow fluid in it, about 20 cc's worth) Wow. That's a lot of fluid.
Tech: Yeah, it really is. Knees aren't supposed to have much fluid in them.
Me: Well, thanks for your help. See ya in 6 weeks.
I walked out of that appointment without a limp for the first time in almost 7 weeks. I got into and out of my car without having to manually help my leg. I climbed and descended stairs almost normally. It was simply amazing how much difference draining the excess fluid made in my life. I had been getting concerned that 1) it was all in my head, and 2) I was going to need surgery. Now, I am hoping that physical therapy and a good leash on my "go out and do it until I can't ignore the pain anymore" tendencies will have me up and running again.
I am walking now. I walk as fast as I can for 5-8 miles on my days off. I am going to start getting up in the wee hours to walk 3-4 miles on the days that I work. Walking isn't running, but it is aerobic exercise, and doesn't seem to bother my knee. It bores me, but I don't care. It seems safe and sensible. I am going to start swimming again. I was going to swim today after my walk, but the pool heater was broken, so the pool was closed. I have my bathing suit and goggles in my gym bag, tho. I will walk and swim until I can run again.
I will cycle just as soon as my right leg is stronger. Now that I have the fancy clippy pedals, the difference in leg strength manifests itself in how I ride. I feel like the bike is "skittering" under me sometimes, and it frightens me. I don't want to ride scared, because that is when you fall and get injured. But I am diligently doing my little PT exercises (yeah, I went ahead and made the appt before the doc told me to), and eventually my quads and hammies will be equally robust. And then I will walk and swim and cycle.
I miss running. A lot. For me, it is like losing a best friend. All those early morning, mid-day, and evening miles have gotten me safely through a lot of drama and trauma. People ask me what I think about during all those hours when I am out running. The fact is, I don't really think about anything. I don't dwell, obsess, problem-solve, organize or plan. All sorts of errant thoughts run though my head, and I have a constant tour-guide (Oh, look at the pretty flowers -- I wonder what they are...what kind of car is that...black swans are really neat looking..i hate this stretch of road...i think i may have to pee soon....that is the prettiest house in the world). I have a hard time running when I am really upset, because I can't find my tour-guide. I have learned that for me, running is a "be here now" state. It is a sanctuary of sorts -- a smelly, sweaty, fatiguing sancutary. This is what non-runners don't understand. Running centers my life, it gives me an anchor in my day to day. I am always better, and at my best, when I run.