Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Me and my meniscus

Rather than re-regale everyone with my entire current health saga, suffice it to say:

1) On July 25, while walking around London, I wrenched my left knee.
2) The ongoing limping, pain and worry that I was screwing it up further caused me to cut my vacation short so I could come home and have it looked at.
3) I have now had 4 medical visits, 3 X-rays, and 1 MRI in relation to said knee, all in 2 weeks' time.

Today I got the lowdown (he read all the film) from Dr. Dave Atkin, the orthopedist (whom I like very much - a sports guy who seems to know his stuff). Official diagnosis: osteochondritis and a meniscal tear.

My left knee has always had this osteochondritis problem, apparently - it's been slightly weaker, and has clicked, popped and occasionally buckled slightly for many years. As for the meniscus, well, tearing is very common, and I guess it's helped along by the other condition. Both things are somewhat treatable, and neither is dire. Of course, either or both could get worse.

The upshot is that I have a range of options: I can do nothing and see if my knee continues to bother me (and the fact is it's gotten a lot better in the past week). I can opt for physical therapy and see how that goes; I can get it all cleaned up via arthroscopy, or even look into more extensive surgery.

Given my life-long ability to pretty much ignore (and get over) my body's minor aches and pains, I'm not inclined towards drastic action, let alone anything that involves skin incisions. (And apparently the arthroscopy, which might come into play sometime, would mean crutches for a month. Urk.)

Having moved beyond spring-chickenhood, it seems to me to be kind of a no-brainer: I'm going to undertake physical therapy (prescription: 2 sessions/week x 4 weeks) and focus on losing weight too. And I'll also start taking glucosamine & chondroitin more faithfully.

The main thing I dislike about this situation is how it makes me think about the future. I don't like to have to factor in a physical condition when making plans, or for that matter a treatment schedule. But at the same time I am seeing a new eagerness to make things aright, to move progressively towards a better future (without the slightly gimpy knee, dare I hope). It's interesting for me, so often inclined towards a deterministic view of life, to want to focus on change and improvement of this sort. It's a fairly new awareness - something I've noticed more since my mom died. I take that as a good sign, even as I prepare to stumble along towards what I hope will be a healthier, stronger state.

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