Friday, January 14, 2005

The Rx Files

Johnny told me years ago talking about one's health problems is a tremendous bore, and when I developed problems, I realized he was right. Talking about the same annoying things over and over is a bore. Feeling crappy is a bore. Talking about feeling crappy is a bore. Finding the funny in life's boring, crappy, and painful keeps the brain busy. Johnny responds to Poor Impulse Control:

I'm pissing myself here, reading your hilarious blog. As always, I thought of myself, because I just came from the orthopedist, who I thought was going to fix my knees later this month with a few deft cuts. Instead he says what I have is extremely rare and inoperable. He shows me on the MRI where the end of my upper knee bone is connected to the - sorry, couldn't help it. Anyway, at some point, the blood supply to the bone was interrupted, an infarction, like a heart attack. He shows me where patches of bone are necrotic. That means dead and rotting, inside my body, sort of like my ideals. I have no idea when my knees went to meet their Maker and left the rest of me, kneeless, behind. I know I've got memory loss from drinking and antidepressants, but not that bad. He says I should vigorously exercise my legs with no-impact exercise like swimming. I'm too disgusted to mention that I live in New Hampshire, that the closest gym to New Ipswich is in Boston. I tell him to give it to me straight, doc. I've been waiting my whole life to do that. I ask him if I can realistically hope to bring my dead knees back to life, no matter how much I swim. He changes the subject and asks what I'm doing about pain control. I leave with a script for fifty extra-strength vicodins, with a refill. I took four in the car. They're not bad.

Shameless flatterer!

A couple of years ago, I started experiencing loud, ringing knee pain myself. This irked me because I'm athletic, and have never had a knee injury, so why the knees? If my ankles had given out, I would've understood because I wrecked those but good in gymnastics decades ago. Anyway, when I couldn't walk without help, I turned myself in and was sent off to the physical therapy gulag, where people with horrible injuries from fires, accidents and surgery worked out several days a week. I looked around and said, "Look, I don't know what I'm doing here. Give me a circuit and I'll beat your expectations every day I'm here." Because, you know, my knees hurt and I didn't know why, but the same old behavior pattern made me fierce and growlly next to a weight machine. Grrr. Grrr. Must benchpress that linebacker. Grrr.

Anyway, after a few months of this, my mobility improved and I discovered that knee trouble was part of being female in the passage of time. It also didn't help that I'd stopped lifting weights and dancing, and I'd put on twenty-five pounds I was failing to deal with. The physical therapist was adorably blunt:

Me: I still don't know why my knees hurt in the first place.
PT: Well, you know, you old birds - after a while, everything flaps in the wind.
Me: Baby, NOTHING about me flaps in the wind!

Between lots of parties this chat would've been insulting. This was educational banter. He was right that I was refusing to acknowledge my age with exercise, and I had to do something about it myself, every day, or I would be one of those little old ladies in a wheelchair in another ten years. Of course, I'd paint flames on the wheels and play the Reverend Horton Heat wherever I went. Vroooooom! So now I have the stepper contraption in my living room and every morning, I pull it out while I'm still half-asleep and before I can talk myself out of it, but this is way different from needing a pool. Other people I know need a pool and can't find one. What happened to every town having a YMCA, besides the Village People?


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