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I haven’t really talked much about this anywhere, but about six weeks ago, I somehow re-injured my knee. I stood up from dinner one night while away on a work trip and thought oh my God. I can’t move.
There was a shooting pain in my knee that was unmistakable. It was the same shooting pain I felt when I first hurt my knee 11 years ago as a ballet dancer. I have never felt anything like it since, until six weeks ago, when for whatever reason, my knee injury decided to flare up again.
I had trouble walking, or even putting weight on it, for the better part of a week. I wasn’t able to see an orthopedist until I came back home from my work trip, and by then my injury was fickle and temperamental. Some moments, it was fine. Other moments, my knee would spontaneously “lock” and I wouldn’t be able to move it without literally crying because it hurt so much. I wore icy hot patches over my knee so often that my clothes and sheets began to permanently smell like menthol. Over the first few days of my injury, my knee grew red and hot and swollen and I was in so. much. pain.
Several doctors visits, prescription strength painkillers, and one MRI later, my diagnosis is… well, they’re not sure. It’s likely that my initial injury didn’t heal properly, and that it came back as a result. It’s odd that it happened when I was simply standing up from sitting in a chair, and not while I was spinning or running or even doing yoga. There seems to be a tiny, microscopic piece of cartilage floating around my knee, which is bad news. But there is also a weak ligament in my knee that needs to be strengthened to help prevent further injury recurrence, floating cartilage or not. All of this means I have a lot of physical therapy in my future, plus a handy knee compression sleeve I am rarely seen without nowadays.
I know I am incredibly lucky that, for now, it seems like all I need to do to get my knee back into tip top shape is take medicine (done) and complete several rounds of physical therapy (in process). It doesn’t look like I need surgery, which was a possibility when I first checked myself into my orthopedist’s office. I just need to go easy on my knee and let things heal.
For someone who only just discovered the joy of exercise within the last year or two, that’s been a lot harder than it sounds.
It means I haven’t been able to attend my beloved spin classes thrice weekly. It means I haven’t been able to go to my morning barre classes. It means I haven’t been able to further the progress I’ve made in my strengthening and conditioning classes, even though I’d only taken my first of these classes a month before my knee issues came back. It means I haven’t been able to finish Yoga Revolution. It means I haven’t been able to finish the Blogilates beginner’s calendar. It means I haven’t been able to take up boxing this spring, like I’d originally planned. And it means I haven’t been able to start running again, after taking an unintentional hiatus last year.
It means I’ve been confined to my bed or my apartment for days, and that sometimes, something as simple as doing PT-certified squats can be really hard. In the grand scheme of things, no, this isn’t a big deal. I don’t have to have knee surgery, my injury is healing, and I can still squat (sort of). But it’s frustrating to feel like the progress I was making in my fitness routine, both mentally and physically, has already been wiped away. I’m caught up in the fact that the momentum I was building with a healthier lifestyle came to a crashing halt when my knee injury reoccurred. Even now, as I slowly make my way back into the active lifestyle I was building for myself pre-injury, I’m not as forgiving of myself as I should be.
But I need to be able to let my body do its thing and heal, and to listen to my doctors and physical therapist because the last thing I want is for my injury to reoccur again. So I do what I can to stay active, and each time my doctor and/or physical therapist has given me blessing to go back to a certain type of workout or class I’ve jumped at the chance. I’m finally spinning again, and while my stats are lower than they were before, they’re still pretty good. With time, I know they will improve. As for barre and Pilates and yoga, I slowly starting to resume those too, and my flexibility and strength will come back with more practice. I also did my first strengthening and conditioning class this past weekend without mishap. Next on my list are boxing and running, both of which I am the most nervous about because of all the pivoting in boxing and the constant pounding the knees take when running.
I’ll get there, in time. My gym has great boxing trainers that will help me make adjustments to my workout if needed, and I signed up for a 5K run/walk in June for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, to fundraise for pancreatic cancer research. I’m participating in memory of my dad, who died of pancreatic cancer 21 years ago. I did this race last year with some friends and had a blast, and I’m really looking forward to it again this year. I have about six weeks to “train” for it, even if that means just getting used to the idea of going for a casual jog around the block again. I’m hoping to be able to run it, as I did last year, but I am also okay with walking it if need be. The most important thing is that I show up, and listen to my body while doing so. Considering that last year’s 5K was the last race I ran before I took some time off running, it’s fitting that this year’s 5K might mark my running comeback 😉