I’ve hinted on here in the past few months that I’ve been dealing with a (frustrating) knee injury. And I’ve decided to tell you the whole story — how it happened, how I coped (am still coping) with it, the healing process, and looking towards the future:
Back in October, I came home from work, popped dinner in the oven, and then popped in my usual Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workout DVD. A few minutes into the routine as I was stepping back for a backwards lunge, I lost my footing. Instead of falling gracefully, I tried to catch my balance, twisting my right leg in the process, then falling hard on it. My knee cap was pushed out of place in the fall. I cringed with pain, held my breath, and popped it back in, then panicked. I initially feared my leg might be broken. Once I confirmed there were no bones sticking out and I could wiggle my toes, I gave a sigh of relief, but knew what had just happened was potentially pretty serious. Did I tear a ligament? Would I need surgery?
After a trip to the doctor’s the next day, it was confirmed that I did not shatter my knee cap or tear any ligaments. But since I did forcefully jostle it out of place, my knee was incredibly inflamed (and pissed at me). My prescription was to rest, ice, and take Advil for about 2 weeks.
And I did, but not willingly. How could I work out? So, I can’t have 4 cookies and burn it off with my high cardio workout? Where am I going to get my feel-good endorphins after a long day at work?
To put it lightly, for the rest of October, I was miserable. After two weeks, my knee was still swollen and it was still painful to walk on it. My schedule was go to work, sit at work, go home, sit at home, then go to bed. I usually take walks at lunch at work with my coworkers, and I missed it terribly. Then at home, I couldn’t move either. Since I couldn’t walk, I didn’t go out and see friends (the T is not very handicap accessible). I felt foolish. I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs. People had to slow down to a snail’s pace when walking with me — even from the car to the door. I found myself apologizing for my “stupid knee” over and over again. I couldn’t cook elaborate meals. I couldn’t even vacuum the apartment. On top of it, I felt guilty whenever I ate carbs or chocolate because my normal mentality is, “I’ll work out later! I can afford it!” With my injury, I’d eat, and then feel useless…like I was just sitting…getting fat. I cried a lot — to myself, and to Chris. I would ask him, “When is this going to get better?” “Will I ever get back to my normal routine?”
So in November when the swelling finally went down, I decided to buy a stationary bike. And it helped. I could bike at a light resistance for 30 – 45 minutes and then lift weights. In mid-November, I could take light walks again, but not for more than a mile without aggravating my knee. I was frustrated, and still not getting my heart rate up enough. If I was up and about too much in one day, at night, my knee would flare up again. This still isn’t normal, I thought, so in mid-December, I went back to the doctor’s. This time, the prescription was a month of physical therapy.
And now, as we round the corner to February, I’m almost done with the physical therapy. I’ve learned and done many knee strengthening exercises to quite literally get my knee back on track. Ever since the injury, it had been ever so slightly out of the groove, and now with taping and exercises, it’s finally getting used to being where it’s supposed to be.
The healing process still isn’t over, but nearly four months after the initial injury, I’ve made slow, but steady progress. And I’ve learned a lot:
- Patience. I’ve never dealt with a serious injury before. And on the scale of things, this wasn’t even that serious. It’s just that the knee is one of the most complicated joints in the body and naturally takes a long time to heal. When I first hurt it, I thought, “OK, two weeks isn’t that bad. I’ll be back to my normal routine in no time.” But I didn’t realize it would turn into a chronic annoyance. And I slowly realized that in order for my body to heal, I did just need to stop, and accept it.
- Listen to your body. I waited too long to go back to the doctor’s and go to physical therapy. I was in denial and thought my body could heal itself without the assistance of professionals. But in the end, I’m glad I listened to the warning signs in my body and let the professionals work their magic.
- Acceptance and Modification. It was hard, and still is hard, for me to accept the fact that I can’t do high cardio workouts — maybe never again. I can’t risk it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work out. I may just have to bike to get my workouts in. And walking is plenty good for me. I’m slowly accepting the fact that I’m not an athlete (I never was!) I don’t have to train for anything. So I don’t need to work out like that. I just simply need to stay in shape, and it’s perfectly do-able, even with a stubborn knee.
And what about food throughout all of this? For the most part, I am eating similar to how I’ve always eaten, but minus the amount of indulgences I used to give myself prior to the injury. I never stuffed myself with cake or sweets or fries or burgers, but I didn’t hesitate to eat that stuff when given the chance. Now, I stick to small and light meals, with light snacking in between. I try to bring hearty and healthy salads to work that are either packed with veggies or use quinoa or similar grains as the base. If I bake or if there are sweets around, I eat a small slice, and encourage others to take leftovers. When dining out, I opt for vegetarian dishes and (try to) skip the fries.
So the big question is, have I gained weight? Yes, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s just because of the injury. I’ve been under my average/normal weight this past year and a half, and before I got married, I was getting to a danger point with my weight and the way I thought about food. So once I started eating normally again, my body was like, “HOORAY! CALORIES! FINALLY!” And I gained everything back I had lost. I am back at the weight I’ve always been at in my adult life. And I’m content with it!
In the end, yes this is frustrating, and yes it is a struggle, but we’re all dealt different cards in life. Sometimes you’re stuck with the Evil Queen, and you have to play to the best of your abilities. Chin up!
Now, let’s get back to cooking and baking, shall we?
What about you? Have you ever struggled with an injury?