This year an old injury weakness has surfaced. When I was an adolescent I dislocated my kneecap – this was back in the 80’s. In those days they placed a large heavy cast, from ankle to thigh, to allow “healing” to take place. When the cast came off, about 8 weeks after, I was never sent to rehabilitate the injury. Instead the doctor sent me off by saying “do a couple of these” performing a straight leg raise. I was 13 years old – I didn’t – “do a couple of these”.
Protocols have changed since then, a cast in that case actually causes more damage to the surrounding structures by weakening them. I was sent off into a future of activity in a vulnerable condition. Fast forward over two decades, after a life time of intense activity, and my knee is now facing debilitating hardship with no remedy beside surgery.
Through the years I was aware of the instability in my knee. I was at peace being strong in my dysfunction. I was at peace living with instability, that for some time, I could tweak with therapeutic exercise and massage. Feeling great, I took up running. Not aware of the micro, internal damage happening to my horribly misaligned patella. My kneecaps are frog eyed (laterally displaced) and easily subluxate (jump out of track), the left one even more so because of the injury. Visually, you could see a misalignment. I learnt to accept that. With routine exercise and stretching I felt strong.
This year, game changer. My knee suddenly collapsed. Downhill spiral – chronic inflammation, constant instability, pain – my symptoms seemingly appeared out of no where. Though that wasn’t so. Vulnerable structures were being damaged slowly throughout the years. To add to the symptoms, I experienced a meniscus tear. I believe this happened because my knee-joint was in such a debilitated state. This all began April of this year. I knew there was something deathly ill with my knee and I couldn’t fix it with exercise and stretching.
In retrospect I should have visited the orthopedic sooner. A year or two prior I noticed my knees reacting quicker to the work placed on them. They got inflamed quicker, took longer to recover, my patella looked even more displaced and my knee-joint kept mechanically jamming. All signs that warranted a visit to the orthopedic. I’m a fitness trainer, massage therapist and couldn’t follow the same advice I give to clients. Easier said than done. With less than mediocre insurance and two small kids – along with their own small lives I’m responsible for – it was difficult to prioritize me. It was difficult to spend the energy on being my own advocate. I should have questioned the physical therapist more. I should have acted sooner. With today’s medicine and new therapies, I might have been able to provide my knee with more time before surgery had to be considered.
I’m sharing this in hopes that I may encourage someone to be proactive in seeking help for their chronic condition and not to hesitate to ask their doctors to elaborate or explain their diagnoses. Be a strong advocate on behalf of your health, educate yourself on your condition and seek answers. Don’t be at peace with dysfunction without exhausting all your options and taking preventative measures.