Friday, June 19, 2009

My Frickin' Knee

My doctor told me that all the running I do would come to an end. He said my knees would give out from all the pounding and I should start doing more low-impact activities like walking, swimming, yoga, nose picking.

He might as well have told me to roll over and die. I like running. It's free. I don't have to go to a gym, and it feels like real exercise with real sweat and real pain.

That advice was given to me a couple of years ago and I laughed to myself at the time because I felt great. My only issue was finding the time to work out.

Now, I'm not laughing. I've developed painful tendonitis in my knee and can't shake it. Thanks, doc!

My wife thinks I'm a hypochondriac because I'm obsessing about this and like to go to doctors. Hell, I pay for insurance, why not use it?

So I went to my primary doctor who sent me for x-rays. Those came back negative. No signs of arthritis. He gave me some anti-inflammatory medicine - Celebrex. That did nothing. He sent me for a MRI. That came back with nothing. He sent me to an orthopedist who told me I have tendonitis (no kidding) and gave me more anti-inflammatory medicine, basically super strength Aleve. Most of us can buy this over the counter at 200 mg. I was up to 1500 mg a day plus a rub on cream for the knee. Nothing.

In the meantime, I did a month of physical therapy. Still nothing.

I went back to the orthopedist who suggested a plasma injection. "All the top athletes are trying it," he said.

Why not, what harm could it cause?

The process involves drawing blood out of your arm - into a giant syringe. A machine spins the blood so the plasma separates and then the small amount of plasma is injected back into the sore area.

Sounds easy, except my ortho couldn't draw blood on the first go. The pretty big needle was going in and out of my arm without hitting oil. I felt like Mr. Burns on The Simpson's when he got poked for blood and the needle went straight through his arm. There's nothing like a thin piece of metal going in and out of your skin.

He tried the other arm and bingo, a gusher. So much so that when he pulled the giant syringe out, the blood kept coming, actually spurting. It hit my feet that were dangling over the edge of the table. But no worries, the doctor's gloved thumb saved the day. Now, I felt like the knight in the Monty Python movie that had his limbs chopped off, with blood shooting out and he only considered it a flesh wound. I just sat there on the table watching the water fountain of blood erupt as he ran around getting band aids.

The worst part, though, was when he injected the plasma back in. A big needle into a tendon is not pleasant. And it's even less pleasant about an hour later when your knee swells up and you can't bend it.

But a day and a half later, the pressure subsided and the knee was operable. But still, nothing. Although to be fair I think have to give it a few weeks to take effect.

At the same time, I looked into a therapy called ART (Active Release Therapy). It's done by chiropractors and the object is to massage and stretch muscle areas that are in pain. Several people had tauted the positive effects, so I signed up.

There is a well-known doctor in my area who also treats the local sports teams, including a major professional football team. Of course, when I called he was completely booked for a couple of months, but his new associate could see me immediately. The receptionist recommended her highly. I was desperate so I came in.

Well, the new associate, a 28-year old very fit and curvy woman brought me into her dimly lit office and asked me a few questions. She seemed to lack any professionalism and I could barely understand the questions she asked me. But I didn't mind. I just did as I was told. There weren't any "pleases" or "could yous". It was just lie down, move this, turn here. I didn't know what she was doing but I was going with it. It's hard to argue when someone is hanging over you bending you like a pretzel and smiling seductively as she does it. It was the best $30 co-pay I ever spent.

Then she mentioned she had to do a Graston on me. Graston? That was a new one. I figured it could only get better as I smiled back and said, "Okay."

Graston is one of the most inhumane, medieval techniques around. It puts waterboarding to shame. It involves the use of metal instruments like a dull butter knife or a crowbar. These instruments are rubbed vigorously and deeply along the sore areas. Imagine someone scraping a metal bar against your skin which in turn scrapes against your bone and if you're lucky some muscle as well. The idea is to cause inflammation to the area to promote blood flow and enhance healing.

The only blood was flowing to my face as I winced in pain and broke out in beads of sweat. If it wasn't for her upper body shaking so much as she did this, I would've bailed as soon as I saw the tools.

"Does this hurt?" she asked.

"Not too bad," I squeaked back.

She went faster.

"That spot hurts," I panted.

She stopped and told me I would be a little bruised for a couple of days.

A little? I was black and blue for a week. I was afraid to go back but I did. This time she stayed away from the previous areas and caused pain in new ones. She was also opening up a little more to me. She told me about her bachelorette weekend and how all these girls went to a cowboy bar in the City to ride a mechanical bull.

"Did you ride?" I asked.

"No, way. My skirt was way too short for that."

The rubbing continued.

"So, have you had Graston done to you?" I asked.

"Yeah, as part of our training we had to do each other."

Not only was she killing me with a metal rod, she was torturing me with her words.

"I've probably had every part of my body touched by the Graston method," she continued. Sometimes, if I have some pain, I'll just Graston myself."

All this may have helped other parts of my body, but my knee was still the same. I'll probably go a few more times but I'll have to insist she does something more gentle. I'm too old for these young ones.

Today, though, I went back to my regular doctor to relay all the things that I had tried since we last spoke. He offered one more option - acupuncture.

I've always wanted to try this but didn't think it was too credible. My doctor said some people had good luck with it, especially those with back and knee issues as it can help with nerve alignment which in turn may affect mobility. Plus, he said he knew about a young acupuncturist that worked nearby me and he had heard good things about her.

Her? Okay, I'm there.

I phoned the office today for an appointment. "Zou's Acupuncture and Massage" was how the receptionist answered the phone.

Massage? Maybe there will be a happy ending after all.


  1. What kind of excuse is that - her skirt was too short! Why wear the short skirt in the first place unless you're wanting to show off just a bit!

    Sounds like the knee is screwed, but look at all these fun adventures you get to have.

  2. Life is hell... but just a bit of hell (at times) sounds like fun.