Lessons From My Knee

It was two weeks ago today that I had my knee surgericaly reconstructed.  It was what I knew the last attempt by a highly skilled orthopedist to fix my wrecked knee.  I fell and smashed it good, probably once and for all.  I used to be a Division 1 full-scholarship basketball player.  Yes at 68 inches I played point guard, but I could jump, surprisingly. Over the year that knee has gone through two reconstructions, and 11 scopes.  So when I tripped on my flip flop about 5 weeks ago, I knew in my heart my knee was a mess, even before I fell.   

I went and had an MRI because on top of the knee, I had two fractures in my leg, that needed surgery sooner.  I was down the day of my knee MRI, knowing that if I hadn’t fell, my knee was gone probably for good, at only 39 yrs old. My dream of running road races with my daughter Bella, danced in my head, pounced on my heart, and just made my whole head hurt.  I couldn’t fathom that I had possibly raced my last race.  What about another child, that may be in my future? I woldnt be able to run around with them either?

So on the day I went to get my results from my MRI, my pug, Julia Bleu, was at the vet having emergency surgery for a cancerous tumor.  Certainly I had better days, but I still kept my hopes high.  I got into the room, and my MRI images were plastered all over the lighting boards.  I didn’t need to be a doctor, to see all the damage, both past and present.  The doctor walked in, with a slight smile, not wanting to let me down too hard. He was good, he came out and said it: I don’t see a knee that will ever run again, but we can surely get you back to walking and perhaps some hiking.  I was filled with anger, not knowing where to direct it.  My eyes welled up with tears, and I looked at my doctor, and said,”Can you please go in and do everything you know, to give me one more chance to run. Please don’t give up on me, I am not ready to be put out to pasture, I just ask that you really do try.”

He looked at me with such sad eyes, between wanting to pick the truth and also what I wanted to hear, I know I put him on the spot.  Again he said, “When I look at these images, I don’t see a knee that will run again, but when I look at you, I see a person who will do anything for one last run.  I will operate on it a week from today, I will do everything, but my hopes aren’t very high.” I was crying the whole time he spoke to me, I just needed him to try to fix it just one more time. It didn’t matter if it bought me one race, or maybe if I got lucky, would buy me a couple of years.

So you all know I had the surgery and I even went to the gym to test my knee, because I detected a hitch, and a lock. The dreaded hitch and the lock, I didn’t have them either prior to surgery so I am not sure what happened with that, but they are there.  We tested the knee with fair results, I never broke into a jog. However I was able to find a stride, that kept the hitch and the lock at bay.  I have been going faithfully to the gym, working my knee everytime, just a little bit more than the last time.

Well today is two weeks, post surgery, and everything considered I am doing well. I see the doctor on Friday, and surely wont tell about the test, but will share about the issues that are new.  Today I had a moment, when I let my guard down, I thought about the road race I was hoping to be back for, and I couldn’t picture myself at the race. It was impossible to imagine.  I was very surprised, I concentrated really hard, to picture myself at the race.

My knee has been there for me, for everything I have asked of it. I have never been let down by my knee, so now is the time to embrace the truth, my knee doesn’t have to wait to see the doctor on Friday, to be told there is no more running.  I am going to hold on tight and pray to the gods above. That not with any time table, but with a lot of intentional work, I am going to nurse my knee, and hope against hope there comes a day, when I lace up my Mizunos, and race with my daughter even just across the parking lot.

It is time to get real, and I have got to give the doctor a break.  I also have to give myself and body a break.  There is no cap this is not absolute, everything could get better in 6 more months.  Keeping a positive and upbeat attitude will help me heal the best I that I can.  And who am I to scuff at walking or even better hiking?  There are so many people who aren’t able to do either, I will count my blessings right here and now.

So tomorrow I let the good doctor off the hook.  I will go into the appointment and thank him for all that he did.  I know he thought the surgery wasn’t a good idea.  I will apologize for pushing too hard, and let him know where I am with my leg.  I will tell me that I am not disappointed, I have a leg that I can walk on.



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