Bone on Bone

I’ve heard lots of other people use those words to describe their knees. But never had it applied to my knee. Until yesterday. My insurance company finally approved the gel shots, and so yesterday I went in to my knee doctor for the first of three shots. I like this doctor SO MUCH. He is kind and encouraging, and not an alarmist. And for a surgeon, he has always been more interested in trying other less invasive methods rather than “surgery is the only option” like so many surgeons seem to think.

So yesterday he started the conversation by asking “have you been thinking about surgery at all?” To which I replied honestly, “I think about it ALL THE TIME.” I think about how my knee hurts  and how I avoid walking places and how I wish I could walk longer and farther. And then I think about how I don’t want a part of my body REMOVED FOREVER and replaced with a hunk of plastic and metal. And I think about my friend whose knee surgery was botched and how it took five years and almost as many doctors to get someone to listen to her and she had to have the first device removed and then wait 6 weeks WITHOUT A KNEE and then have another surgery to have it replaced. And I think about my sister-in-law’s dad, who died 2 days after his knee replacement surgery. And, of course, I do think about the many people who have had successful surgeries, and report lack of pain, and even the ability to take long hikes.

Anyway, then he told me he had reviewed my August X-rays, and my knee was now bone on bone. After a couple of minutes of that setting in, I said I was almost relieved to hear that, because now I didn’t feel like such a wimp for feeling that my knee hurt so much. And he said kindly, “no, you are not a wimp.”

So we discussed a bit more. And the plan is to go ahead and try these gel shots, but if they don’t work, we will go ahead with planning for the surgery. It is almost a relief to me to have more of a concrete plan in mind. For someone like me, its much better than the ubiquitous “you’ll know when its time.”

I don’t have any travel plans after February, and I kind of think that this eventuality might have been in my mind already. I know I will want to add any exercises I might need beforehand to optimize my outcomes. I’m pretty sure that is all a part of planning for the surgery.

In addition, (and I am reluctant to say this after just one week of success,)  but a little over a week ago, I decided to try restricting one more time. I re-set my calorie limit to 1400 on LoseIt, and what do you know? This time I didn’t internally rebel, it was pretty easy to stick to, and I stayed true to it for one whole week and lost 3 pounds. That is the most I’ve lost in months. Now, always, the big question is, how will you MAINTAIN any loss? I am not optimistic about that. But it is always a part of what I think about when I am in losing mode. With this surgery looming, any weight I can lose will be a big bonus, so that is a huge motivating factor for me right now. As you know, I live alone, and having a good recovery and being independent AS SOON AS POSSIBLE is the most important thing to me.

So that’s the news for now. I am off to the gym for a nice long session in the pool. Yes, we are still having pool weather here in sunny California 🙂

Lessons from the Quilt Show

I just returned from the Pacific International Quilt Show. Every year it seems there is a special exhibit that really touches me. This year it was an exhibit of 23 quilts called The Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work, by artist Carol Larson. I had heard the story behind these quilts before I came to the show. But to see the quilts, and read the stories behind each one touched me in a very deep way.

Here is Carol’s explanation of the series:

in 1965 when i was 17 years old and 78.5 inches long, i was surgically shortened 6 inches with the intention of giving me a “normal” life. so begins the introduction of the “tall girl series: a body of work.”

this series highlights the 40+ years since the three surgeries that broke my body, nearly crushed my spirit and forever changed my life.

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in middle school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol's sense of humor comes through--the boy's caption says "how is the weather up there?" And Carol is replying "Fabulous."

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in high school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol’s sense of humor still comes through–the boy’s caption says “how is the weather up there?” And Carol is replying “Fabulous.”

Can you imagine being given the responsibility of making such a horrendous decision when you were 17 years old?

I know its a stretch, but what it made me think of is how many of us with “weight issues” are willing to go way too far in order to achieve a body that we think will make us “fit in” and be “happy.” Every day people undergo unnecessary surgery (and not just us weight control people.) Surgery is serious business. If people had to watch it like I did as a student nurse, they would understand a little better why it hurts so much, and why it takes so long for your body to heal. And why, oftentimes, it just exchanges one kind of long term pain for a different kind of long term pain. I am always surprised when people seem to go casually into major surgery.

Carol's quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

Carol’s quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

And then of course, there are the “lesser things” that we do to achieve that magic “goal weight” and/or body image. Like the woman I just talked to today, who is thinking about (ON HER DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION!) going on a 500 calorie a day diet. Even though she has done it before, and she has experienced re-gaining all the weight lost on such a restrictive diet, she is still considering it.

I am glad to tell you that Carol is an extremely talented and successful artist with a wonderful sense of humor.

From Carol’s blog:

I still believe this is a story that needs to be heard. Every single one of us has something in our past which has molded us into who we are in the world today;  and for so many these truths are painful, tragic things that happened to our bodies.

The purpose of the series was my personal healing. It’s purpose today is to encourage others to do their own healing, to speak of and expel their own story from their body. Believe me when I say it takes a huge toll to hold on to old sorrows.

I was blessed with a very sensitive spirit and also the courage to tell my story.  I am also blessed with the intuitive sense that the story can go on now to inspire others, without my active involvement.

Maybe this will make you think of something else that is a deep seated problem in your life. Something worth spending the time to work through, as Carol bravely did. I wish you could have seen the whole exhibit, with the unbelievably painful things that she experienced during her life. Here is a link to an article that tells a little more about her story. 

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story with us. As difficult as it is to hear comments from insensitive, unthinking people, I hope you know that there are at least as many of us who heard, and are trying to understand, and that it has done a great deal of good for us.