Negotiations with knees

I haven’t always shared the best relationship with my knees. In the last five years, my knees have crashed from full functionality to bare minimum and then have gradually improved to the present state which is capable of doing most things. The full functionality meant classical dancer for 20 years, martial artist, trekking up every mountain/hill that could be spotted and a solo biker perpetually on long distance rides. As I approached 30, I decided to give running a marathon a shot. Before I could reach half way during the prep, my knees were not happy. I slowed down and restarted multiple times. Yet the knees gave way eventually.

On a friday morning, as I lay in the MRI room for two hours getting both my knees scanned, my anxiety knew no bounds. Then, of course, the long wait for the reports and the consultation with the Ortho surgeon. At this point, I couldn’t walk on uneven surfaces without significant discomfort to the knees. Less than a year ago, I had climbed the cliff side Himalayan monastery in Paro, Taksang Monastery, without a problem and here I am waiting in anticipation for the fate of my knees. An hour later the report was out and my family of doctors poured their energy into it declaring that both knees were equally damaged and I cannot jump, jog, run or hike. Bottomline is anything that increases the load on the knees apart from regular weight bearing jobs is banned. The anxiety in the MRI room had tested me in ways I had no clue and tears came streaming down when I heard the things that I enjoyed the most had to be stopped. I didn’t know until then what caused it. It was already a lot to handle. The physical restrictions at the age of 30!!!

Finally I went to see the Ortho surgeon. For the initial few minutes he quietly sat looking through the reports. It appeared like he was going to declare a death sentence on me anytime. After what seemed like forever, he raised his head, removed his reading glasses and, as a matter of fact, informed me that both my knee cartilages were damaged upto 60% and cartilages did not heal. And 10% more damage would lead to surgery. I was screaming out of despair in my head yet the initial outburst in front of the family had helped keep my external calm. The surgeon also declared that this was a very common problem in flat footed young females who are physically active. Wait!!! Why didn’t I know this yet considering I am aware of my flat feet. Too late to wonder all of this. Damages are done. 

He prescribed specific exercises and anti-inflammatory tablets and I left the hospital with a sullen face. The silver lining was the doc was surprised that despite the extent of damages, I had not resorted to painkillers yet. That gave me hope. But for the next 2 years, I continued having swelling around my knees on and off and I always carried a pair of knee caps. The perpetual state of negotiations with my knees was taking a toll on me. I had convinced myself that I can’t do much physically with the state of knees. To an extent that I refused to go out for walks blaming the uneven pedestrian paths of the cities. 

I was tired of the enforced diet restrictions to control every growing weight and intermittent working out sessions. My self confidence was hiding behind new layers of fat. Fast forward to 3 years since the fateful day inside the MRI room, I took up walking, first slowly and then faster along with some amount of yoga that wouldn’t make me fold my knees too much. And the lockdown began. I happened to come across the Nike Training App and I haven’t looked back. It has been 4 months now and I have graduated to high intensity, advanced levels workouts without any trouble and have successfully lost the extra kilos I had put on in the last few years.

The ongoing fat loss and muscle built up pushes the confidence as an individual a notch higher. I have a long way to go to reach my goals and I still can’t run. Maybe I won’t ever run a marathon but I am glad I hadn’t given up hope. Maybe someday I will fulfill the dream of climbing the hills and mountains to sit and enjoy the view from the top.  

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