“I’m glad I wasn’t talking to myself like I usually do.”
Those were the words spoken to me by a seemingly nice, old woman who lives down the road. She was dragging her garbage and recycling bins to the curb for pickup as I was walking past. It was a dreary, foggy day so I can understand her being surprised by my presence.
As I continued down the road I thought about her comment, “I’m glad I wasn’t talking to myself like I usually do.” Would that be so bad? To be caught talking to yourself as you went about your daily routine? I didn’t think so.
I do some of my best thinking when I’m not trying to. My mind is open and free from distractions. I don’t talk to myself the way she was referring to, but I do have internal dialogue. I think about the things I’d like to do or say or experience. I think about things I’m thankful for and the things I wish were different. Solo walks are a great way for me to have internal dialogue while my thoughts wander.
I wish I would have crossed paths with her sooner. I would have liked to have heard her comment and had more time to reflect on the words. I know it doesn’t seem like much, and she certainly didn’t intend for her words to remain with me, but it’s something I hope to remember while I embark on future walks.
I will always remember November 16, 2014 as a day of great success, and a day of great sadness. On this day I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas, NV. The weather was perfectly cool, the course was flat, and I succeeded in reaching my goal of completing the race in 1:45:12. At that moment I was unaware that this would likely be the last half marathon I would ever run.
Feeling as though I was owed a break after my success in Las Vegas, YAY ME!, I took it easy. I took a few days, maybe weeks, off from running to rest. When I was ready to hit the pavement and start training for my next half marathon I quickly realized it wasn’t going to be as simple as slipping on my running gear and placing one foot in front of the other. I began to experience pain, sharp and stabbing pain, behind my knee cap. Ironically enough the pain didn’t occur while I was running, but rather when I stopped running. Once the pain had my attention it was relentless. When I went down the stairs, there it was. When I stood up from a seated position, oh hi there! Something was wrong, that much was clear.
My first trip to the doctor was about as productive as I had expected. Physical exam, x-rays, poking, prodding, and a million questions. After zero progress was made I was sent for an MRI and referred to an orthopedic specialist. My MRI revealed an uneven wearing in my cartilage. I was told little else and sent away with a prescription for physical therapy.
Physical therapy did help, really it did. I went once a week and was diligent with my home exercises. My legs got stronger and the tracking of my knee cap improved. Sweet, back to running!
The last run I did was a 5k on November 12, 2016. The course was small and treacherous and had one monster hill we were required to run up twice. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good hill run but my knee was in no shape for this type of abuse, I just didn’t realize it at the time. With the run complete and my third place award waiting for me I mad a quick pit stop and headed in for my beer.
As soon as I stood up that sharp, stabbing pain behind my knee was back with a vengeance. I enjoyed my beer, collected my winners water bottle and enjoyed Red Robin with the family. After arriving back home I completed some outstanding tasks around the house, one of which involved kneeling. I didn’t think much of my knee pain, or the kneeling, and proceeded with my so called life.
The Tuesday after that run is when things spiraled a bit out of control. I remember being at work and getting up to use the bathroom. As I was walking to the bathroom I began to experience pain in my knee and it was painful to walk. More rest, all I needed was more rest. By the time I woke up on Wednesday morning I was in so much pain I could barely walk. A sweet co-worker of mine with MS let me borrow one of her canes and I made the first available appointment with my orthopedic doctor. When Thursday came around I upgraded my cane for crutches. I hobbled around and prayed I would have some answers at my appointment the following day.
When I arrived at my appointment on Friday I was actually feeling better, a lot better. I didn’t need the crutches, or the cane, and was walking normally. I was again poked and prodded and sent for another MRI.
I first learned what chondromalacia was on January 9, 2017; ten days after the surgery I had to treat it. Today I celebrate my 8 week anniversary.
There isn’t any polite way to say it; physical therapy can be a real bitch. I have good days and bad days, and really, really bad days. There are days when I want to give up, days when I regret ever having surgery, and days when I’m in pain and my knee is swollen and I feel like something is horribly wrong. Then I have a good day. A day where I realize the swelling is minimal, the scars don’t look so bad, and I can walk mostly normal. This past Tuesday I had a breakthrough and finally learned how to walk without looking like I was walking on black ice. (Yes, a woman did comment on my gait and compare it to that of someone walking on black ice.) It took almost 8 weeks, but I did it.
My current regimen consists of monster walks, crab walks, leg extensions, lots and lots of stretching, almost maybe going partially down a stair, Bio-Oil, and an infinite amount of clicking and grinding. Today I’m felling optimistic. I know that one day my leg will again be strong and powerful and return to it’s former glory.