Sunday, April 29, 2018

Orthos and Arthros

Bad news about my knee, friends.

Xray of my knee
Bad knee! Bad!

I got the results from my knee MRI a couple of weeks ago. I had waited a couple of days for my orthopedist to call me and when he didn't, I called to find out if they had my results and the receptionist told me that I had to make an appointment for that.

I told them that I wasn't going to do that because I didn't have a good experience with the doctor, so I would just take the MRI elsewhere. Now, it is at this point that I would imagine the receptionist would say, "Oh no, what was the problem? Maybe we can make it better," but that did not happen. Instead she said she'd have the doctor call with the results. And then instead, a non-doctor called me back to tell me I had a bone contusion and medial meniscus tear.

Evidently they didn't care why I'd had a bad experience or they just didn't care period. Cool.

My next step was to find a new orthopedist who could tell me what to do. (Well, actually my next step was to google the hell out of "medial meniscus tear" and discover that sometimes it needs surgery and sometimes it doesn't.) I'd gotten a recommendation from a friend for a new ortho, so I made an appointment for the following Tuesday and then went on a short run to see how it felt on the knee.

I was able to run and after a month without it, running felt amazing. Unfortunately, my knee felt significantly worse afterward AND I pretty severely strained my foot/ankle by compensating for the knee (or at least that's what my new orthopod suspects).

My appointment was last week. I made the appointment for 9:30 on a Tuesday and made a note to myself that I had to get there early to fill out forms. By Tuesday, I'd convinced myself that my appointment was a 10 and that I was supposed to get there at 9:30 with pen and insurance card in hand to be a good patient.

That's why I rolled into the ortho office at 9:32 on Tuesday, signed in, and was feeling pretty good about my ability to handle change.

Then the receptionist called me to the desk and told me the doctor I'd signed in for wasn't at that practice and that I was in the wrong place. Somehow I had managed to deliver myself to an entirely different orthopedic practice with which I had no affiliation whatsoever.

Good job, Jean. Never change anything ever again.

I hadn't put the correct ortho in my phone yet because I didn't know if I'd like him, so I had to search him up on the internet on my phone and beg forgiveness from the receptionist. This is when I found out that my appointment really was at 9:30—not 10. Evidently the front desk at my new ortho office is the nicest in the world because they gave me the correct address and told me that I could still come by to see the doctor. I already liked them better than my previous ortho practice.

Seriously, the front desk was great, the nurse was thorough and attentive, they updated me to let me know they were waiting for a fax from the imaging office so I wasn't wondering why it was taking so long to see the doctor. (Actually, I was prepared to wait all day what with their generosity in squeezing me in.) Also, the exam room in which they had put me had this numbered drawing of chipmunks on the wall:

Framed black and white drawing of three chipmunks.
It's like they knew I was coming.

Anywho, long story short, because of the type of tear I have, yadda, yadda, yadda, the doctor ended up recommending arthroscopic surgery, which I was assuming was orthroscopic surgery—you know, because it is done by an orthopedist—and just ten or so minutes ago discovered that it starts with an "a."

He said I didn't have to do it right away, but I am tired of not running and I figure the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can start relearning to run. Plus, I didn't want to get surgery in a couple or three months only to have to ease into running in the winter again, because that would be some buuuuuullshit.

My surgery is scheduled for just under four weeks from today, so you all should spend that time enjoying my lack of whining, because as soon as I'm hobbling around on crutches, I'm sure I will be the most annoying person in the history of the world. Also, crutches? I feel like they don't know how clumsy I am. This is likely to be a hilarious and embarrassing disaster of a recovery.

I actually feel okay about the whole thing. I'm glad it is something that can be fixed—or at least improved. If everything goes well, the recovery won't be too long and I'll be back on my feet soon.

Until then, I'm looking into upping my cycling and strength training. Although I gotta tell you, after not exercising for a month or so, my motivation is suffering. I gotta learn how to step up my non-running, non-eating activities.

Also, I would greatly appreciate not hearing about your arthroscopic surgery horror stories. Maybe after everything goes perfectly for me and I have a like-brand-new leg, we can talk about that, but until then, I mostly want to hear, "Gosh, that sounds fantastic; I think this is definitely the right decision and your recovery will be like butterflies and unicorns and you will be running at twice your normal speed within weeks."

That would be great, thanks.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Squirrel!

I suffered a deep disappointment this week.

I entered a Washington Post squirrel photography contest and I didn't win.

Wanna see my (winning) entry?

I mean, c'mon, right?
It's a squirrel! And it's eating a chocolate chip cookie! How does that not win?

You might remember this photo from a post I wrote several years ago about a trip to the Houston Zoo. Quinn tried to steal the cookie from the squirrel and it ran away. I submitted that information with the photo and still did not win.

Shameful.

Here's the stupid winning photo:

Okay, fine. It's pretty good.
And dammit, it's even cuter in color.

Who knew there were so many squirrel photography enthusiasts? I think I'm going to have to up my game for next year. And maybe purchase a better camera. And take a wildlife photography class. And tame a squirrel.

Watch out, award-winning photographers of small, amusing rodents, I'm coming for you.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The MRI Pot of Gold at the End of the Knee Injury Rainbow

I have had a lot going on since last we spoke. We moved offices at work, my family went on vacation to Albuquerque, and Katie and I went on her band trip to New Orleans.

Okay, when I say it like that, it doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me when I say that each of those things involved a lot of moving pieces and emotional labor. I successfully navigated each of those, however, and have come out the other side. I hope to tell you more about each of them, but that's not why I've called you here today.

You know how I'm always blathering on and on about running and I suddenly fell radio silent on the topic about a month ago? Well, for the first time in my running career, I suffered an acute injury, wherein my knee decided  that NO, THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND! and halted me in the middle of a run, when I was three miles from my home.

That was a long limp home.

I've had a lot of chronic aches and pains that are probably attributable to running, but I have not yet had an experience where I was all, "Uh oh. Something happened." I spent about a week limping about DC and Maryland and not being able to do things like run for Metro trains or across streets so I finally decided to go see an orthopedist/orthopod.

Said orthopod was kind of a jerkhole and was pretty dismissive of me and my injury. I think that he saw a chubby woman who said she hurt herself running and he assumed that I had just done a little too much and had regular old soreness. He didn't actually seem to hear me when I told him that three miles is nothing to me and actively looked skeptical when I told him my weekly mileage.

*makes squinched up angry face*

By this point in my injury, I wasn't limping quite as obviously and my pain level was manageable, so I probably didn't look super injured when he had me walk back and forth across his office and then do the same on tip toes. Then he asked me to walk on my heels at which point my knee immediately buckled and my pain shot through the roof. I have it on good authority that what that doctor did was have me hyperextend my already injured knee, which is something an orthopedist that believes what his patient is telling him probably shouldn't/wouldn't do.

I'm mad at the orthopod. He didn't even fucking blink that he made that happen.

Anywho, that evening I could barely walk. I was in sobbing tears because I thought I'd reinjured or further injured my knee and that it was now in really bad shape. I couldn't move my leg at all without stabbing pain.

It was a problem.

For his part, the doctor told me to ice the knee and take four Advil each morning and evening for a week and if it still hurt then, I should go in for an MRI. He even held up two hands, each with four fingers extended so I understood what he meant by four in the morning and four in the evening.

I repeat: I did not much care for this doctor.

I couldn't go for an MRI after a week because I was traveling all over the United States, so when I got home this week, I reassessed. I hadn't run since my injury and I'd been taking Advil and icing the knee. I was significantly better. I wasn't limping anymore and I was no longer in constant pain.

But the side of the knee hurts and sometimes when I move it in a new way, there is a shot of pain. I decided to get the MRI just to make sure nothing was wrong. I figured I'd rather find out everything is just hunky dory in the knee than run on it, destroying it step by step.

Frankly. I'd like to have an MRI of both hips, both knees, and both ankles, but I don't think they let you just decide that you want that.

Anywho, I went today and I gotta tell you, the MRI was kind of delightful. I mean, prying my wedding ring off of my sausage finger was a bummer, but once I'd climbed that hill, all was well. For knee MRIs, you go in feet first, so it's not claustrophobic. It is loud, but they give you noise blocking headphones and, frankly, that kind of background noise is actually calming for me.

I closed my eyes and laid very still for 25 minutes with very little problem except for that forehead itch at minute 15. Also, I am a toe stimmer and tend to twitch my toes A LOT, so I had to actively not do that, but otherwise, I was completely happy. I didn't have to talk to anyone. I was ensconced in an auditory and physical safe zone, and I was able to close my eyes and not have to be alert and awake.

Although after seeing the machine, I do have to say that a head-first MRI seems pretty bad — and I'm not even claustrophobic.

Afterward, the tech asked me how it had been. I told her it was relaxing and she said, "I don't believe you." I guess I am not like the other people.

Me standing in an MRI dressing room wearing a long patient gown
Also, I got to wear this ingenious gown with three armholes. Brilliant!
But for the fact that it will be Jerkface McOrthopod who will give me my test results, I look forward to finding out what is on the MRI. Hopefully Dr. Von Dismissive was right and it is nothing but achiness.

Regardless, I'm hoping to get out on the road again this week. I haven't gone without running for this long in years. It will be interesting to see how it goes out there. And by "interesting," I mean "awful," but that's okay. I hope to be boring you with running selfie after running selfie soon.