“Take care of yourself!” they rant. “Diet and exercise, exercise and diet.” Yes, we all know about that. Some of us consistently live by excellent habits, others less so. I’ve always loved to swim and walk — that’s my idea of exercise — and I used to think I did pretty well with that keeping me upright, until last summer that is.
After my super clumsy, also dumb escapade with a horse and an air-flying corral board that knocked me out and took me to the ground, my knee was pretty smashed up. I acknowledge that you are likely to get regularly beat up when you do daily ranch work. I’m always boasting a few bruises and scrapes here and there; but this injury was a little different. “You didn’t even think of going to see the doc?” (Well, no, I never do!) People seemed surprised. I just expect wounds to heal and swellings to disappear. Always have. Until they don’t.
We are onto the ninth month of me talking boringly about my messed-up knee and the forever and a day it is taking to heal. Once the gash itself closed up, the wounded area was numb for quite some time and the limp seemed to just get worse. I did stretches, I got massages. I was digging deep into the “I’m not going to the doc” toolbox that I mostly carry under my arm.
“You need to get that seen to, Lu, before it gets chronic,” father noted. “Gosh, your walking is much worse than it was the last time,” sister sternly chided me when I admitted that I had done absolutely nothing about it since my last visit.
And then when we went out walking, the change was marked. I had a hard time keeping up with my little sister, where previously my gait had always been strong and swift. It was well past time to do something mature to stop the decline.
I went to see the doc and he was markedly surprised that I had been doing the wounded warrior thing for several months. He sent me for X-rays and gave me some anti-inflamms — also told me to get my limpy self to the physiotherapist. He thought that I had tendonitis in the knee, plus some stubborn scar tissue that wasn’t allowing the knee to properly heal.
I had never been to physio before, and it was quite the work out. From balls to bands to stretchy machines and ankle torture, not to mention the stationary bike and shock machine, I realized that this was a whole different world outside of my few lame leg stretches and hoping for the best that hadn’t really worked out for me. This was the world of fix-it, if not swiftly, at least eventually.
“Do you think I can avoid surgery?” I asked meekly of the physio, eyes in the doggy downwards position. “I think so,” he said. “But you are going to have to work really hard.” And then it was onto the enthusiastic purchase of yoga mats and balls to work the knee and leg, I downloaded the app for daily exercises and vowed to bounce back stronger than ever with my gimpy knee fixed and an athletic resolve to not be stupid like that ever again. I even purchased husband his own yoga mat and we resolved to try and improve our levels of fitness together. After all, I am going to be 60 this year and my athleticism and suppleness will not take care of themselves.
We are a month into my new physio routine, and it is quite time-consuming trying to fit the two sessions in every week, but I am determined to emerge victorious. Already my knee seems to be less stiff and achy (I also go to the massage therapist as often as possible for some further work on the area). I am investing a boat load of mullah into remedying this situation (my health insurance covers neither physio nor massage by the way…). Though I still suffer with an aching leg and foot on the dodgy side, especially at night, I am already walking less like someone who needs an immediate hip replacement and more like the girl I used to know.
I’m hoping, when I see father and sister next month, they will be very happy with my improved physical prowess, and I will be able to walk the doggy with sister like I used to. Disability is not a joke, people, and it creeps up on you like a slow and persistent plague when you are super busy doing other things.
A lesson to anyone who will listen. If you do something stupid to yourself, go and get it checked out by a medical professional and then follow the doc’s orders. Do not be a ranch warrior like me and live to regret your stubborn self months down the road, when your injury is no longer affecting just the joint itself, but your entire body, not to mention your life.
And then this week, what do I go and do? I slide on a muddy stable mat, land on my back and my wrist, and my wrist quickly swells up like a ball. “Ice it, mother, right now!” my nurse daughter tells me. And I immediately do. In fact, we have an ice pack in our freezer ready to go for incidents like that. Though it was sore the next day, it was headed on its way down to being a normal wrist again and I felt as if I had finally learned something about self-care and response time.
Though I still have a ways to go until I am no longer under doc’s orders, and I do wonder what the night throbs are in the leg and foot, I feel so much better about my prognosis than I did a month ago. I have been putting in the work and I now think I shall be striding out unaided for years to come.
If you are a stubborn wench like me, heed my cautionary tale. I am no longer 15 years old and my old bits no longer fix themselves. Be less like me and more like a mature person who wants to preserve their mobility for as long as possible.