Weighty Matters

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Creaky and Cranky

Day two of the lean-green-clean effort is pretty much a wrap.  I had another strong day of recovery eating-wise.  I’m working the tools by planning and preparing, doing readings, engaging in some spiritual reflection, and regularly giving myself pep talks.  I’m not, however, going great guns on my exercise.

You’ve all heard me whine often enough about my right knee with the considerable osteoarthritis.  I just got my tax refund back so tomorrow I’m calling the orthopedic doctor I was examined by last year and scheduling the two remaining shots on his suggested treatment.  I sure hope it helps because I know that my knee is worse than it was.

Worse or not, I can function and stay active with it as is, but what’s hampering my activity level right now is the heel pain I frequently experience in my left foot.  I haven’t been to a doctor yet about it, but I’m familiar with the symptoms and am 100% confident in my self-diagnosis of plantar fasciitis.  When I first get out of bed or stand up after sitting at my desk for a while, it’s almost comical how much I hobble for about a dozen steps.  That’s how long it takes for the knee to loosen up and the tendons, etc. to stretch out in my foot.  The heel pain comes and goes but when it’s aggravated, every step nearly makes me wince.

There are things I try to remember to do, such as stretching exercises before I get out of bed or while I’m sitting.  I wear some comfy slip-on sneaks more often right now because of the cushy protection for the heel and the better arch.  I’m a big baby about having to wear shoes instead of flip flops.  I know the doctor would also tell me to not go barefoot.  Silly as it might be, I hate wearing any kind of footwear in the house and can’t quite bring myself to take this next healing step, as it were.

I hope that with the little treatments, stretches, some occasional over the counter meds to reduce inflammation, and at least wearing sneaks more frequently than I normally do, the plantar fasciitis flare-up will go away.  It did before.  In the meantime, when the foot doesn’t hurt, or doesn’t hurt horribly, I walk.  If I’m experiencing a lot of pain, I’m not a masochist.  I take things a little easier.  So far, even with heel pain, I can handle the pivots and steps that are part of Tai Chi.

I also try to not whine too much, even too myself.  After all, it’s only an arthritic knee and an inflamed foot.  There are worse physical problems I could have.

Do any of you watch Dancing with the Stars?  One of the celebrity contestants this season is a military veteran named Noah Galloway.  During his service in the war, he lost one of his legs above the knee and one of his arms above the elbow.  Let me have a cougar moment and tell you that the man is totally hot and ripped.  Go ahead and Google his image and you’ll see.  He’s also quite the dancer!  Every week I watch him and am inspired.  I’m so grateful to him that he put himself out there in the public eye and goes for it week after week after week.

I’ve seen Noah in person.  I’ve met numerous other veterans who have undergone truly horrible injuries.  My knee and my heel are nothing to complain about.  Not when there are men and women who deal with lost limbs and more.

When working to recover, it’s important for me to keep things in perspective.  For me, right now, that means not indulging too much in my creaky crankiness.

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A Beautiful Day

I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet — or under my knee.  Having made the decision to get my knee medically evaluated, I went into action.  Specifically, I wanted someone who would not make surgery the first or only option — unless it really was the only option.  Friends recommended a couple of orthopedic/sports medicine specialists.  I checked each of them out online.   One in particular jumped out at me as meeting my criteria.  As an extra bonus, he trained with the specialists who treat the Philadelphia Eagles — my favorite football team.

It was meant to be.  I was fortunate enough to get an appointment today.  After some football chat, the physical exam and three x-ray views, I got the low-down.  In summary, there’s significant erosion on the medial side of my knee because of osteoarthritis.  It’s created something called a kissing lesion.  The doctor still wants me to have an MRI to check for any meniscus involvement, but he strongly believes we can take a non-surgical approach to reducing the pain I experience.  Honestly, the condition of my knee doesn’t physically prevent me from being active.  It’s the pain that interferes.  Being active is the best thing that I can do for my joints so reduction of pain and discomfort will further aid that effort.

Today he injected my knee with a novocaine-steroid mixture to reduce the chronic inflammation in the knee joint.  Tomorrow I start a six day course of oral steroid medication in diminishing doses.  In a few weeks, I’ll go for three injections of  a hyaluronic acid (HA) product over three weeks.  HA is found naturally in the body and serves to lubricate, cushion and protect the joints, but it thins out in older patients with osteoarthritis.

I’m familiar with HA products for a lot of uses.  I already use a serum morning and night as a facial hydrater.  It’s great stuff.  Now it will help my knee.  No surgery at this point.  Projected reduction in pain and increase in function.  I’m feeling pretty terrific all around.

This leads me to the topic most on my mind for tonight’s blog post.  Recently, I learned from a friend that her husband’s cancer, which he has bravely fought for a long time, is, indeed terminal.   They have a good amount of time left, but they’ve had to face reality.  Right now, she’s angry, frightened, and incredibly sad — all to be expected.  They need to find out how they’re going to go on from here as a family.  I truly hope that they are able to find a way to not let the news steal their remaining joy.  I hope they’ll live to the fullest and not get overwhelmed by the thought that he’s dying.

We didn’t have that chance with my mom.  Once she got diagnosed, things went downhill and got super complicated really fast.  We were fighting, fighting, fighting the cancer and her other conditions and it never feels like we got a break where we could live and find some joy, or at least enjoy a few days here and there.  It just sucked.

The other day, someone on Facebook shared a meme that was connected to appreciating each day and feeling gratitude.  It so resonated with me for a number of reasons, including my friend’s news.  To paraphrase, the meme suggested that if we can, we should begin each day with the thought that this will be a beautiful day.  Then, at some point we should take time to think and say, “This is a beautiful day.”  Before we go to sleep at night, we remind ourselves that it was, indeed, a beautiful day, one to be grateful for.

If we do this regularly, we will compile many, many beautiful days, and at the end, we’ll be able to look back and know that we enjoyed a beautiful life.

It’s almost the end of my day.  While I type, my leg is propped up with an ice pack on the knee, as per the doctor’s orders post-injection.

It wasn’t a perfect day by any means, but it was, definitely a beautiful one.

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