Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a safe a happy holiday, and are enjoying the last moments of holiday bliss before heading back to work, school and regular routines. I was able to have a Christmas with both my mom and my dad this year, which made me incredibly grateful beyond words.
It’s a good thing I got some fun times in these past few weeks, because the next couple of weeks are going to be a challenge. On Wednesday I’m having an arthroscopic knee surgery, followed by 2 weeks of bedside recovery, several weeks of hobbling around on crutches and 6 weeks of physical therapy. This will be my second surgery in ten years to treat my very rare joint disease.
Although I’ve had ongoing knee pain since I was about 14, I wasn’t diagnosed with PVNS (Pigmented villonodular synovitis) until I was 18 years old, and underwent my first surgery the summer after my senior year of high school. Arthroscopic knee surgery sounds easy enough, but because of my specific ailment the surgery will be quite invasive and the recovery time intense. PVNS is an extremely rare joint disease that causes inflammation and overgrowth of the tissue in the synovial lining of the joint. The surgery will remove the excess tissue growth, alleviating the constant discomfort caused by swelling of the tissue. Unfortunately, this disease is not really curable. The surgery provides temporary relief, but 80% of PVNS cases are reoccurring–my case being one of them.
Although my condition is rare, I believe that many people can still relate to my situation. Experiencing a debilitating injury is not only frustrating, it’s also life changing. In addition to physical pain and suffering, injuries can also cause depression, withdrawal, weight gain, anxiety and strain on relationships.
Ever since my PVNS started flaring back up over the summer, my fitness routine has suffered greatly. I went from working out about 5 times a week, to being lucky if I made it to yoga class once a week. Running, biking and the gym were pretty much out of the question. At first I was really depressed over the situation. I started feeling sorry for myself and it affected my relationships with loved ones. My family noticed my crabby temperament, and my social life practically dissappeared. It’s amazing what exercise endorphins actually do for one’s sanity. Once I lost those, I had to pull myself together and rely on other things to keep me feeling good about myself, my body and my life.
Since this summer, I have completely fallen out of shape. I haven’t gained a lot of weight, but my cardiovascular endurance and muscular tone have drastically suffered. It’s crazy how long it can take to build those things up, but how short of time is required to lose them. It took a few months for me to snap out of my depressed mindset, but eventually I pulled through and reminded myself that my life was not over because of my knee problem. A couple of things happened this summer that provided some much needed perspective–including the horrific tragedy in Japan, and attending a close friend’s funeral. Perspective is key, and up until that point I was lacking it.
I still have friends and family that love me, a roof over my head, air in my lungs, and a positive outlook after surgery is complete. I have the rest of my life to dabble with this joint disease, but I am absolutely certain that I will make it my top priority to pull through the recovery, get back into shape, and put my body back in the place it needs to be–for my physical and mental wellbeing.
The lesson here is to not let an injury or physical condition bring you down, and change who you are as a person. Some injuries may be life-altering, ruining athletic dreams, careers, or amazing opportunities. It’s the harsh truth that your life may be forever changed, but that doesn’t change who you are as a person. Some people become so wrapped up in their athleticism that it starts to become an identity–and I don’t think that is entirely healthy. If you fall apart, pick up the pieces and move on. Take care of your body–it’s the only one you have.
This past weekend my father cracked two of his ribs after slipping on some ice while snow tubing. Although his body was in pain, he brushed it off as a pulled muscle. The next day he pushed himself to go to the gym and lift weights, resulting in two completely broken ribs and an emergency room visit. YIKES! Poor daddy. I wish I was still up in Minnesota to be with him right now. But geez, if your body is telling you to slow down in any way, shape or form, listen to it. Give yourself a break, allow for recovery time, and jump back on board when you are healed up and ready.
I can’t wait to run again, and I’ll have my day eventually!
My surgery is on Wednesday, so expect lots of rambling blog posts while I’m in bed, sucking on pain pills. (Not a fan of pain killers, but there is definitely a time and a place).