Ch-Ch-Cha-cha-Changes! Hike Hope

Joy  4-22-16
My knee doesn’t throb and swell anymore!!  Yay!

I’m here to report a few developments – life is full of surprises.  The day after I wrote the last post about how I’d never be able to make it hiking my routine local trail—well, guess what?  I totally “lost it” and headed for the woods anyway.  I brought something to sit and read in case my hiking efforts resulted in failure. 

I had to try and I had to get into the woods—nothing else would do.  (Turns out there was an Arbor Day celebration going on in the State Park when I got there by the way.)  I think the trees were calling out to me.  Like I said, I decided  to read under the canopy of green leaves and brown trunks by the lake if my body couldn’t handle it.

Bottom line:  it took me twice as long (and more) as my slowest pace per mile (Yes–Mile!!)  and…

I leaned a great deal on my trekking poles–actually felt a bit like a cripple, protecting my knee the whole way.  Each mile took the good part of an hour—can you believe it?   When finished, the back of my knee joint was totally numb, I was red in the face and huffing and puffing (out of cardio shape@!) as if I’d just run 4 miles instead of hiking it slowly.  I took great care on the downhills and uneven terrain but enjoyed the lake views and solitude–so much!!

Yes,–and that’s not a typo.  I managed 4 miles (somehow),  but had to verbally coach myself through the last one, praying aloud, making deals with the sky and tree gods to get me to the marker that indicates the trail’s end is near. 

Yeah, and let me mention AGAIN that each mile took me nearly an hour—that’s how pathetic it was and the knee puffed out like a balloon afterward but I didn’t care.  It hurt and throbbed no matter what I did anyway–nothing more to loose if I could do it!  (That’s how I felt that day–i just had to get on a trail!)

Sometimes, ‘a girls’ got to do what a girl’s got to do’.

The MRI results showed posterior horn of medical meniscus tear and compromised (increased signal at) the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and the lateral meniscus somewhat compromised as well.  Ganglion cyst (like a bony protrusion) and Bakers Cyst (essentially fluid sac) all of which prevents the kind of range of motion that I’d like. Chondral degeneration (yep, the knee is 68 years old).  Whatever.  But no fracture or full tear–just partials. 

The MRI confirmed what I pretty much already knew but it ruled out complete tear or fracture.  I don’t regret having it. I have a new respect for my strengths and limitations now.

I took the results to my general practitioner doc who agreed to try a cortisone injection.  And my knee swelling has decreased—like a thousand-fold actually (LOL) and it no longer throbs.  The entire leg feels much more stable and going up and down stairs now?  A piece of cake.

The knee has issues but at least now I know exactly what they are and how I might manage them better.  No way will I ever push again like I did that month of packing/moving/unpacking  carrying heavy boxes and going up and down ladders, blah, blah, blah.  

Before the injection I’d been getting back into lap swimming working back up to a mile swim (66 laps) but the pool schedule and lack of adequate number of lanes for swimmers doesn’t allow for that on all days.  

I have decided to routinely add some lap swimming (at least 1 x 600 or 24 laps) at least a few times a week when I go back to working out.  (2 x 600 or 48 laps if possible)

I could start back at the gym today but am fighting off that urge thinking it best to let the knee have a bit more time to recover from a big needle in the joint.  It feels great now and I’m going back into things easily.  I love my doctor who discussed the whole MRI with me and since he attends the same gym gave me a “head’s up” on which elliptical machine would be best to use.  I’ll give that contraption another try—I’ve made a few attempts and gave up too easily maybe, IDK.

In doing some exercises at home yesterday (straight leg raises and such—movements that do not stress the knee joint), I was so surprised at how much weaker the quad and hip flexors are on the involved leg!  Wow, protecting that joint for the past few months has resulted in a noticeable deficit in strength as compared to the other leg.  (or maybe the other leg just got a lot stronger—who knows?  LOL)

So I will try to hold myself down this weekend to doing mat exercises here at home and then start back on Monday at the gym…. With an EZ does it attitude, hopefully.  (It’s just when I see a spin bike I want to jump on and ride like the wind!  — or my version of that anyway. HA HA)

I will hike again soon but will respect my limits.  No more jogging attempts for me (unless I lose a good deal of weight first).  And I’m working on that too (always).  I am not totally giving up on hiking the AT — just thinking if I ever did it, section hiking would be my best bet.  And a very light backpack.

I wrote a newsletter about an Earth Day Meditation yesterday:  CLICK HERE if you want to take a look.




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