Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Update on the knee -- the stages of grief

As I struggle in my exercise of self-restraint (about the only exercise I’m getting these days), I realized that this whole knee thing is more than just getting the knee better but also an illustration of the stages of grief. You see, I’ve realized that I’m mourning the loss of my bike, exercise and feeling good generally. I’ve been off the bike now for over 3 weeks and have done very limited exercise otherwise (upper body, abs and a play around on the elliptical, which probably wasn’t a smart idea). But over the last few weeks I’ve seen myself traipsing through the proverbial phases of grief…case in point:

Denial. Denial abounds with me; those who know me well are not surprised. On the day in question, 15 miles from home I feel tearing pain in my knee, and I continue to ride through it. The next day, with a knee the size of a grapefruit, I teach a class, on the bike. And I teach again the next day too. Surely I wasn’t as injured as someone who needs to not do anything…right? Yes, that worked out not so well for me.

Acceptance. So three weeks of pretending nothing is wrong finds me in the office of my orthopedic surgeon. Things I’m sure he thought but didn’t say are in italics. You have an overuse injury because you were stupid. It’s not going to get better if you keep pushing it because that would be stupid. I’m going to prescribe more drugs which because you are stupid you stopped taking and tell you to ice it aggressively which you also stopped doing because you are foolish. I’m also going to tell you to stay off the bike, not fully bend or extend the knee or do anything that causes pain or swelling for another 2 to 3 weeks because I wouldn’t have to tell an individual with common sense that, but because, well, you’ve demonstrated that you are a bit short on common sense, I have to say these things. So with a $25 co-payment for this office visit, I took the prescribed course of treatment and his reality check and ran. I’d do all he said because now I know what this is and surely it will get better. I’ll be back on the bike in no time.

Bargaining. After five days of the new drugs and ice I did not see an improvement. Even after a week of drugs and ice I still do not see an improvement. So over the weekend (day five and six of drugs and ice), I found myself bargaining with whomever in my head is listening that I would give up candy corn, I would give up my ridiculous crush on you-know-who (which I should do anyway but that’s a story for another blog), I would be a better person, I would be more realistic in my workouts, I would eat better and do all sorts of crazy-but-probably-should-do-anyway things. If you would JUST

Let Me
Back on the bike

Depression. No beans. Another 48 hours and no change. I’m no closer to the bike than I was a week ago. So I wallowed in a one pound bag of candy corn and a bottle of Bedell Cellars Red (I’d recommend a lighter white if you’re thinking of mixing the two…maybe a sauv blanc?) Depression lasted about 2 days as I cried myself through movies that were good but not THAT good and rotated the ice pack from upper to lower knee. And on the odd occasion I'd go into the bike room/litter box room and pat my Specialized on the handlebars and try not to look at the odometer which is calling me to push it over 1000. It's not your fault's all me.

Anger. So now here I am. I haven’t had a meaningful workout in 4 weeks. I haven’t had any outlet to burn off stress. I’m tired of sleeping with it on a pillow, tired of having freezer burn from “aggressive icing”, tired of thinking about how to take stairs and not twist the wrong way. Tired of coaching off the bike (as cool as it is and as much as my members actually like it) to rides I’d much rather be riding myself. Frankly, this bites. I’m fed up and angry. I’m LOSING weight, which I’m assuming is muscle mass, which could be a good thing because apparently I've proven that consuming a one pound bag of candy corn in less than 4 hours has no ill effect when you have no life at the gym anymore.

Blame. All this because I am stupid. I've got no one to blame but myself and my own foolishness.

I’m not sure what phase is next, but this is getting old. Granted, this is a mere speck on the radar compared to where I was about a year ago this month, so I know I should be thankful that this is not dire or actually life-threatening. And I am, believe me. But I just want that piece of my life back. I want the joy back in my legs and the opportunity to enjoy the crisp fall weather outside. I want to be able to ride that one really good new hill song I added to my repertoire for class. And I just want to walk more than 10 minutes without swelling and pain.

But I’ll shut up now and wait it out. Maybe two to three more weeks of self-restraint will make a difference.

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