Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Physical Therapist Is So Awesome (I Could Cry)

This is where I go for my physical therapy.

I won’t see the orthopedist for a couple of days (Thursday, to be precise) but I saw the physical therapist today and, when she heard that I’d had the MRI done (yesterday) she called over and asked them to fax over the results.
Now, if you’ve never had an MRI, here is how it goes.  You get shoved into a very noisy machine and for 30 minutes they take images and more images.  You have to lie perfectly still the entire time.  Depending on your condition, this is more or less easy to do.  When all is said and done, the technician tells you nothing.  A radiologist needs to look at the images before you will be told anything.  And usually the radiologist sends the results to your referring physician/specialist so you have to wait for an appointment to be told what the radiologist saw. 

When you’ve been in pain, limping and losing sleep, for nearly 8 weeks, you want answers sooner rather than later. 

Well, I have my answers now and it’s not good but knowledge is power.

First, we knew I had some osteoarthritis.  She said it’s severe.  I have severe osteoarthritis.  My knee, according to her, looks like I was a long distance jumper or regularly do parkour and plyometrics.  As we know, my exercise routine consists of mostly walking and yoga.  But I’m “lucky” in that I have the joints of an athlete and, although I am only in my 50s, I have severe deterioration in my knees.  (So far the focus has been on my left knee because that’s the one that’s exacerbated at this time.  But the implication is that the damage is bilateral and I’m a test or two away from confirming this.)

This is what a normal knee
looks like. 
Second, I have torn meniscus.  This is what is actually causing the swelling.  Well, that and I have something else.  Anyway, the degenerative meniscus tear is being exacerbated by the osteoarthritis so something has to be done to make room for my knee to heal.  The meniscus tear and swelling go hand-in-hand so as the one is repaired the other will go away.

Third, there is a cyst.  This is not unusual and they typically go away on their own once the swelling goes down.  However, I have had not one, not two, not three, not even four, but five growths removed—cysts, lymph nodes, and benign tumors.  When it comes to things like cysts, my body doesn’t do anything typical and I can fully expect that this growth will have to be removed at some point.

So now what?

She said that, depending on the orthopedist’s approach to this diagnosis, I’ll be having an arthroscopy which takes 4-8 weeks to heal and will include more physical therapy, etc.  If he’s conservative, he’ll just drain the swelling to take some of the pressure off and give me an injection to help with the pain.  You know, kinda like what I expected/hoped the doctor would do last week.  Whatever the doctor may or may not want to immediately do, this is what I have on my immediate horizon.
1) I will get the injection and whatever procedure needs to be done to reduce the swelling short of an actual surgery because I don’t have time to heal from a surgery at this time.
2) I will likely wear a knee brace or something to help support my knee while I continue doing the physical therapy exercises I have been doing.  (My doctor did not call in a prescription for more, probably because she wants to see what the orthopedist has to say.)
3) I will schedule an arthroscopic procedure for some time in October.   Then 4-8 weeks of healing to follow and hopefully the doctor (whichever one) will refer me to the same physical therapist because she’s awesome!
4) Rob will bring my walker down from the attic because my physical therapist thinks it’s a good idea for me to get it ready.
I haven’t needed my walker since 2008.  I guess that streak is over.

So I am sad.  Very sad.  Here and now, sad.  And on Thursday I’ll talk with the orthopedist about my options, and, together, we’ll  put a plan of action into place.  And someday in my not-too-distant-future, I’ll be having knee replacement surgery because, yes, that is how severe the arthritis is even though I’m only 52-years-old. 


  1. Oh, I'm so sorry that it turned out to be so bad... But at least now you KNOW what's happening with you and hopefully the treatment will help, at least temporarily. Don't get depressed, that leads to nothing! It's still hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I already have chronic back pain in my 20th, but it helps me to think that there are worse illnesses in the world, and luckily I don't have them. Try to think positive, although I know how hard it is.

    1. Ekaterina, I know that I'm going through a sort of shock at the news and all. I'll get through this eventually and learn how to live with the latest limitations. And there are absolutely worse illnesses. When I first had vertigo, I was tested for some pretty scary things. I'm relieved the tests all came back negative. Arthritis is manageable, even if it is incurable.

  2. I'm so so sorry to hear this Satia. But you have will and determination and I believe in modern medicine and I believe they will be able to rectify this! You're in my thoughts my friend.

    1. OE, When I was talking with the therapist I had already started throwing out things I know are good, given the diagnosis. I was researching and educating myself every step of the way, even before I knew for sure what was wrong. My mother and I "jokingly" say that when we're faced with a problem our response is to throw a book at it. Well, I may not have a book (yet) but there's a lot of resources that can be read regardless.

  3. Your body just really seems to give you a hard time!

    1. Betty, It feels like my body hates me. Yoga was so essential for me because it helped me reconnect with my body in a loving and accepting way. When all of this is said and done, however, I don't know that yoga, as I am accustomed to doing it, will be a viable answer for me. I'll either have to try something else altogether or modify my yoga to accommodate my body's new demands. There will be a period of adjustment and, as I move towards acceptance, I know there will be some resistance.

  4. My co-worker tore her meniscus in a boot camp class in May. Her symptoms sound very similar to yours, but she doesn't want to have surgery or go to therapy at this time. She's been biking after work and says it has helped. the pain and swelling have gone down and she seems to be limping less. BTW - she is 52 and so am I. She had a major melt-down in the ladies room shortly after she injured herself about getting old and feeling frumpy.

    I went to a physical therapist last year when I had tendonitis in my elbow - it was wonderful. Hope everything gets better for you soon.

    p.s. What are you reading?

    1. SWG, That is EXACTLY how I am feeling. I even wrote a note in my journal.

      "Title for my memoir: Younger on the Outside."

      Between the vertigo and now the severe osteoarthritis, I am like a 60 or 70 year old but I got carded in June. So yeah. I'm feeling old and frumpy and I can absolutely empathize with your coworker. I've been using a stationary bike as part of my physical therapy but today I found out I've been overdoing it. (Anyone who knows me would say this is not at all surprising.)

      Over on the left is a list of books I am "reading." Truth is, I've already finished three of those books and I need to update the bar tomorrow with the books I truly am currently reading. Sometimes I read a book faster than I update or I don't update until I've read at least two or three of the books listed so not every book shows up over there. But I always write a book review and post it in my book review blog (http://satiasreviews.blogspot.com/).

      I started Your Face in Mine by Jess Row today. See? It's not even over there on the left. Tomorrow. Definitely updating the sidebar tomorrow.

  5. Satia, I am so sorry to hear this. How disappointing! I think you should be able to modify yoga; the stretches are very beneficial. Do what you can. Please take it easy and remain positive. Arthritis is manageable; there are many foods that help, I think.

    1. Suko, There are some foods that have been linked with inflammation for some people. Once my knee is no longer swollen, I'll be able to remove these foods from my diet for a couple of weeks and see how/if they affect me once I have not had any for a while. I've had to modify yoga so much because of the vertigo, you'd think I'd be an expert by now. But I probably tore my meniscus while doing yoga so I have to admit that I'm a little worried about hurting myself again.