I feel like there’s still so much I wanted to update y’all on in my long summer of no blogging what-so-ever. Of course, a lot of that involved horse show updates that seem too painful to write now, but I am feeling good enough about life to catch y’all up on some non-Simon related areas. Today we delve into the oh so fun topic of my knees.
For the past several years, I’ve had pain in both knees. If I do a squat, they crackle and pop audibly, but didn’t hurt at first. It felt like a general weakness there, but I figured it was because I was fat and out of shape. Riding in Texas didn’t hurt at all, so I kind of ignored the problem.
I went to Joshua Tree in December 2015, and realized that it hurt to go up the stairs at night after a day of hiking. Again, I blamed my fatness and general lack of physical fitness, but I started needed ibuprofen to get through days of high physical activity.
When I went to Japan in May 2016, I noticed there was more general pain, but again it seemed like a dull weakness. I mean, who wouldn’t be sore and tired after walking 15+ miles a day when they’re used to a desk job?
About six months after my trip, I injured my right knee in a very old lady way—crossing my legs on the couch. I heard an audible “POP” and the thing pretty much immediately swelled to twice its normal size. Instead of going to a doctor, I chose to “walk it off” and hobbled with a bit of a limp for a week. Although it gradually got better, that knee never felt the same.
Flash forward to April 2018. My knees hurt every time I had to squat down or push up from a low chair. My right knee was still very unstable, and would buckle. Riding caused pain, and I realized it was time to finally go see a doctor.
After x-rays and an MRI, I was told that I have bad conformation. I’ll never pass a vet check. Essentially, I’m over at the knee. My hip and my ankle line up in a straight line, but my knee is offset to the inside. Because the knee isn’t underneath me, every step I’ve ever taken grinds my kneecap to the “correct” position. It’s been like that since I was born, but can only be corrected when people are young. So, I’m stuck with the problem.
It’s pretty common, but the doctor said my knees are terrible for someone my age with this condition. He usually sees women with my level of pain and arthritis in their 40’s and 50’s. But since I spent a solid 6+ years figure skating (including lots of slamming down on jumps on my right knee) and have been very active, I’m in bad shape.
He figured that when I heard my knee pop and it blew up the December before, I actually dislocated my knee cap. Whoops.
So in June, I had surgery on my right knee with a procedure to relieve some of the pressure and make the grinding hurt less. He refused to do both knees at the same time, although now I wished I had pushed harder on this issue. In it, the doctor repaired a meniscus tear (why my right knee felt so unstable) and realized the problem was way worse than the MRI showed.
I have stage 3 (of 4) arthritis in my right knee, and the damaged cartilage is tearing off the bone in chunks. My surgeon wanted to do a different procedure to micro-fracture the bone and inject with stem cells, but it required six weeks non-weight bearing (total dependence on crutches) and total six month recovery. After my surgery, I spent less than 48 hours on crutches and that was enough to put me near a nervous breakdown. I declined the second surgery.
Now, nine months later, my knees hurt every day. Usually it’s a dull pain that’s constant, and worse when I get up or sit down and of course when I ride. On the worst days, it’s bad enough that it’s hard to fall asleep and riding is close to excruciating.
I’m experimenting with different kinds of treatment. I take glucosamine, which does nothing. I ice after any exercise, which helps a little. I’ve tried ceramic fabrics, and more recently CBD products which helped more than anything else so far.
Basically, I’m looking forward to getting myself new knees for my 45th birthday. At 34, I’m too young for a replacement now. No doctor will give it to me because the parts will wear out too quickly.
Some days, this gets me really discouraged, but I refuse to give up riding. So I’m trying to make the best of things and learning pain management techniques to get me through.