dys·func·tion /dɪsˈfʌŋkʃən/ [dis-fuhngk-shuhn]–noun
1. Medicine/Medical . malfunctioning, as of an organ or structure of the body. 2. any malfunctioning part or element: the dysfunctions of the country's economy. 3. Sociology . a consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.

Monday, July 4, 2011

My Knees

Yeah, that's the whole title. I'm tired. Bear with me.

I have a disease in my knees. A disease in which my knees destroy the cartilidge within them, and then, without the protective cushioning that said cartilidge provides, grind (bone on bone) inappropriate grooves into themselves that can cause mislocation (like dislocation), pain, and popping.

Image from here.

I'd put a check mark beside ALL of those pain spots and more.

When I was 9 years old, I went to the doctor's office to get the results and find out why my knees had been hurting so much when I ran. I used to be on the Track and Field team for running, long jump, and high jump; and they began to throb and burn all the time. I sat in the room all by myself, as my mother was in a different room with Brother. Plus, I was a big girl, I could be alone with no problem.

My little 9 year old self was in for quite the shock when a strange doctor entered the room. He read from the chart and told me that I had a disease in my knees.

"There's no cure, it will only get worse. You'll be in a wheel chair by the time you're thirty."

Then he turned and left the room.

I said nothing to my parents. In my shock, I internalized every piece of this horror, it would be another nine years before I told them. I cried myself to sleep that night, and decided that he was wrong. There was clearly nothing wrong with me, I would just need to let up on running.

The following year I tried to run the 100metre dash instead of the 400metre, and I ended up twisting my knee (in its weakened condition) and sitting out the rest of the events.

The next year, long jump was cut from the list because landing in the sand pit jarred my knees too much, and it hurt to stand after.

I managed to high jump for a few more years, and after acquiring knees braces I even attempted the hurdling team. As long as I was careful, I had convinced myself that I would be able to manage it.

When highschool began, I started biking to school. It would cause me a great deal of pain, but I tried to ignore it. It was only a fifteen or twenty minute bike ride, after all.

In Grade 10 I joined the wrestling team. I loved it, but I noticed how weak my knees were getting. I couldn't participate in warm-up with the rest of the team. I stretched, but that was all. Walking up and down stairs became challenging. I would tell friends to go on ahead without me, I was late for classes.

I kneeled down in a store to look at an item on the bottom shelf and I couldn't get back up.

The next year, I could no longer bike to school. I resigned myself to the fourty-five minute walk instead. I got a medical exemption from the stairs at school and recieved a key to operate the elevator. If I had to kneel down anywhere, I needed someone to pull me back to standing - and then hold me up while the circulation returned to my knees.

In a wheelchair by the time you're thirty.

It haunted me. I was only 17 and I couldn't walk up stairs or kneel down.

The following year my Scouting group went on a canoe trip. One of my greatest passions.

My knees were so bad that I couldn't sit in the canoe. Angered, stupid, and rash; I left the camp.

The following year Shake'n'Bake was born, and I went to see another knee specialist. This one scheduled me for surgery for the following January.

Waiting for the OR to take me, I lay on a stretcher in my nuddy pants being told by nurses and other doctors how brave I was to have surgery on both knees at once. Brave? Why? Is it a bad idea? Someone? Anyone?!

It was June before I had good use of my legs again.

That was 2009.

It's been two years now, and do you know what I did yesterday? Yesterday we piled Shake'n'Bake and Splat into the new bike trailer that Splat recieved from my parents for her birthday, and Boyfriend and I biked all the way to the pool for our swim. Then we biked home after.

With Boyfriend starting shift work again, I asked to have the trailer hooked up to my bike. That way I can take the girls out when he's at work.


No dice. A few hills and a gentle incline, and my knees SCREAMED bloody murder. I pushed through it and I nearly made it all the way there and back. I gave the last hill to Boyfriend, we switched bikes.

We're going to move the trailer to his bike for future trips, but I'm rather proud of myself for accomplishing what I did.

I'm also worried that, in time, I may have biking stripped from me again. This time... well, this time I know enough to enjoy what I have. I know enough to push myself while it's still possible, and what to fight for while it's still available to me.

More surgery? Almost definitely.

A wheelchair by the time I'm thirty? Not if I can help it.


Rae Jeannine said...

Wow, what a journey you have been through with your knees. Makes me thankful for the mobility I have. May you be able to continue biking, walking, and all of the things most of us take for granted each day.

dys·func·tion said...

Thank you Rae. Your comments are so sincere, they brighten my day every time you leave them. Please continue to share your story as well, I love to share as much as we can.