Friday, July 31, 2009

The Knee-mesis

Sigh...good and bad knee news at the doc. As suspected there is some damage and deterioration of the knee joint. The MRI shows damage to the PCL, a new lateral cartilage tear and wearing on the patella which is causing some of the inflammation and fluid retention in the joint. My options are:

  1. PT and take it easy. Ease back into exercise - especially anything high impact. The doc said no running more than twice a week, especially until I can get that right quad strengthened to stabilize the knee joint or I risk damage to both knees. (the right b/c of the damage and the left b/c it's taking all the compensation from the right) I can bike, elliptical, walk, swim as much as I want - just keep it low impact.
  2. Cortisone shots. But this is mostly for inflamed joints in a lot of pain. I'm really and truly not having pain.
  3. Scope the knee to repair that lateral cartilage damage and poke around. Surgery, but with fairly speedy recovery.
  4. Meniscus replacement where they grow me new cartilage using stem cells and then repair and replace the damaged cartilage on both sides of the knee joint and smooth out my patella. This would constitute flaying my knee open and would ultimately result in longevity of the knee, but would constitute lots of pain and a long recovery.
I went for option 1. I just don't think I'm to the surgery point yet. I'm honestly and truly not in pain. The knee does feel weak, and it definitely lets me know if I overdo it. But, I think I can overcome a lot of that with PT and by strengthening that leg back up. And any pain I do have is manageable with ibuprofen and topical creams. So I'll be hitting PT twice a week for the next six weeks. At least I know I'll be getting a minimum of two workouts a week. LOL.

I'm trying to stay positive about the whole thing. I'm bummed that I have to cut way back on the running, but the doc suggested just putting that same effort into the elliptical until I can get back out on the roads. That way I'll keep my stamina and cardio fitness up and may even strengthen my legs even more if I crank the resistance way up. I'm hoping I come out of this stronger and better! Plus, it's really hard to run as much as I like in this summer heat and humidity anyway. So, I'm thinking hit the gym like a maniac, get my legs strong, lose a few lbs that are lingering around and the come back like a bull in the fall. (that's my plan anyway!)

I have to go back in 10 weeks to see where we are and re-visit the options. If the knee is still really bothering me in 10 weeks, then I would say, yeah, we may need to discuss surgery. But I really want to try out all non-invasive options first and then work our way down.

On that note- I'm heading to the gym! :)

Today I LOVE: counting my blessings and the power of positivity!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm back, I passed and feelin' alllright

Thanks everyone for the AWESOME words of encouragement. They really, really helped! And I PASSED, I PASSED, I PASSED!! I don't know my exact score yet, but I do know I passed. They print it out at the end of the exam whether you passed or failed and thanks to little baby, tiny Jesus, and my brain stuffed with safety regs and measurements I passed. Whew! This test was grueling. Five hours allotted time and it took ALL - FIVE- HOURS. My brain was so fried afterward. I seriously could not even speak. I couldn't think of everyday words like refrigerator and gasoline. No joke. Only one more exam to go to get my safety professional certification. I want to take it ASAP while the knowledge is still fresh. Then I'm on my way to super nerd-dome.

Knee update:

I went to a new orthopedic doctor a week and a half ago. He was great - loved him. I had the initial x-rays done on my knee and he could immediately tell from the x-rays that I have some osteoarthritis going on (which I suspected). I still have the scope pictures from when they scoped my knee back in '93 (they're my little trophy, to say "Hey - see what's been taken out of me! Cartilage here, here, here, and oh") They helped him determine some of what's going on based on past and current trauma. He found some old and new stuff:
  • He suspects an old ACL AND PCL strain. The knee is really wobbly, but I'm also very, very flex jointed. Most of my joints will bend freakishly backwards with no pain.
  • Floating patella - old - knew that.
  • Possibly a new cartilage tear on right side of knee
  • AND my legs are crazy different lengths. Just a rough measurement, but almost 1/2"! No stinkin' wonder I have so many aches from running.
He ordered an MRI so we could find out more about what's going on with Princess Patella. I went for the MRI on Monday (which is a crazy, weird, soul-finding experience...YOU lay perfectly still for 35 minutes in a tomb and tell me you don't do some thinking.) I go back in on Friday so he can tell how really messed up I am.

Oh, funny thing though, my knees are so wonky, weird that he wants to use my films, etc to teach his interns at LSU. FUNNY! I'm famous for being so jacked up! All genetics...thanks Mom and Dad. But he did say he was WAY impressed that I run as much as I do and that I compensate for everything that's going on so well.

In other good news, the darn thing is finally starting to feel better! I ran 5 miles on Sunday and 6 miles on Tuesday with little to no pain. I was stoked! And very little swelling in the knee afterward. I'm a little stiff today, but my whole body is stiff from lack of running. Getting back into it is a little frustrating after all the work I put in before, but I know I'll get there. Just taking it one run at a time.

OK - time to get back to it. Going to check on everyone's blog and respond tonight. Gotta catch up!

Today I LOVE: The promise of a rainy day. It's looking mighty overcast out there!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Brief Update

I'm here - just swamped with studying right now. I have a major certification test coming up next week and I've been studying like a mad woman. My test is on Wednesday. (Ack - just five days away!) Please send some good luck my way. I need all the help I can get here!!

I ran a good six miles this morning and the knee did great. I had my knee compression sleeve on coupled with my patella band and it was a relatively pain free run. I LOVED it. I was totally sucking wind the first couple of miles. I could definitely tell I hadn't been running. I was wheezing like a 300 lb fat guy who smokes two packs a day out there. But after about two miles my body settled into it and we had a great run. And I felt like I sweat off about 10 lbs of crap. My clothes were SOAKED, but man it just felt great to get out there and push my body again.

I'm heading to the orthopedist this afternoon so he can check out the knee. Of course - it's feeling better today, but I'm going anyway. I want to talk to him about possible orthotics (if they would help me) and anything else I should be doing for the knee. I'll let you guys know how it goes.

I'll chime in next week and check on all you guys. Sorry I'm MIA, but I'll be back soon. I promise.

Today I LOVE: making flashcards...the best way to study!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Knee Update & Book Review

Ok, so I've been wearing my patella stabilizer band for most of the day the past few days. I also upped my glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. Believe it or not the temperamental sucker is feeling a lot better! SO much so that I ventured out today for an easy 2.5 mile jog to test it out. There was some pain during the run, but nothing crazy. I took it slow and easy and warmed up walking and cooled down walking for a total of a 3 mile workout. I was worried that it might swell up when I got back home but it didn't!! I'm more stoked about that! No swelling is a HUGE improvement. Fingers crossed and praying to the kneecap gods that I'm through the worst of it. Now to just ease back into running. I'm going to keep the mileage low and the pace slow for the next week and just try things out.

One of the things that I think might be contributing to my knee issues are my new shoes. Yes, my brand stinkin' new ones!! I think I'm really overpronating on my right foot. I can feel it when I run/walk in those shoes. I don't think they're giving me enough support and stability. I threw on my Asics today for the short run and I could tell a difference. The Saucony shoe I'm in now is more of a neutral shoe. So, I may go to the running store this next week and see what they recommend.

I hope, hope, hope that I can get back on track. So many great Fall races that I need to start gearing up for!

Book Review

I have read/skimmed through a number of running books in my running life. I've read through beginner's running guides, women's running guides, nutrition for runners, nutrition for endurance athletes, guides to run faster and longer. Each of the books had something to offer and I usually took away an interesting tidbit of knowledge or some valuable coaching advice, but usually it was nothing new or nothing that I couldn't find on runner's websites or magazines. This book however gave me something the other books didn't: Full on stitch-in-the-side belly laughs.

Dawn Dais writes the book as a beginning runner training for her first marathon. She takes you through her trial and tribulations and gives some helpful hints and advice along the way. She also gives a HILARIOUS look into the runner psyche. In her initial "Should I Train for a Marathon" test she asks the "real" questions:
  • "Any sport in which people have been known to literally die of exhaustion while participating is just the kind of sport I've been looking for. T/F"
  • "I'm interested in finding out exactly how many muscles I have in my legs. T/F"
  • "I have no problem being athletically inferior to someone twice my age. T/F"
  • "I've been sleeping in way too much, so I've been looking for something to take up a few hours on my Saturday mornings. T/F"
  • "I want to perfect the art of peeing in a shrub without being seen by anyone. T/F"
  • "My knee joints are overrated. T/F"
  • "Sometimes when I'm driving long distances of, say, fifteen miles or so, I feel the overwhelming urge to pull my car over and simply run the rest of the way. T/F"
  • "I have a very good health plan. T/F"
The book is just hilarious. Having completed my first full this last year as a beginner, I could TOTALLY relate to everything she was going through. Through the laughing and tears I must have said, "Oh yeah, I've done that" or "Oh yeah, I've been there" at least a dozen times. Her diatribes on spandex, chaffing and the "water-holder butt thingy" (her words - not mine) are so on the spot that you think she was somehow channeling your last few runs.

The NonRunner's Marathon Guide for Women isn't going to give you any major running revelations. The training plan is a good beginner plan and straightforward. It's the author's brutally honest portrayals of her marathon journey that make this book a must read.

Oh - and I almost forgot - I'm up to 60 push-ups and 60 sit-ups three times a week! Slowly working my way to 100.

Today I LOVE: Jelly Belly sour mix jelly beans!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Still struggling

I'm still on the running bench. I have really been taking it easy; laying off the knee and letting it heal. It was starting to feel substantially better this week. I was going to try to put in a few miles this weekend as a test run. I had to do some field work on Tuesday - tromping around an open warehouse and looking at a bunch of old transformers (the electrical kind, not the cool alien-robot-that-changes-into-a-car kind). This required a lot of bending over and squatting to try and find the ID plates. Well - that aggravated the knee again. By the time I got home it was really swollen again. Soooo...back to ice, elevation and rest. Again, it's really not that painful. I can just tell that the knee is weak and swollen though.

So, that means no four on the fourth race for me. I don't think it's a good idea to push it. Depending, maybe a few easy runs next week.

This one has me a little worried. My knee will flare up on occasion, but I can usually baby it for a few days and it's back to running form. This time it's taking a lot longer and I've noticed more swelling than usual. I must have done a good number on it. *sigh* This may require a doctor's visit.

Today I Love: My four day weekend!! Yeeehaw!!