tips for healing from an impatient patient

My knee has decided to become useless.

Screenshot 2016-02-17 10.42.20
Look at it, being all useless

I started experiencing some pain in my left knee after we got back from our ski trip last month. Over the course of a few weeks, it got to the point where I couldn’t run — and then walk — without pain.

I went to a sports medicine doctor, and was diagnosed with jumper’s knee, stage 3, which basically means that it hurts at all times (especially when I try to do… anything). Jumper’s knee creeps up on you – so although the damage probably occurred during our ski trip, I didn’t really start to feel it until now, weeks later.

It’s not the best timing – after a couple months of holiday cookies, I was finally starting to bounce back into my mostly paleo, exercising 5-6x/week self. I know that it won’t get better unless I am diligent about my therapy: physical therapy, stretching, icing, taking anti-inflammatories, elevating, resting. 

The last one is the hardest for me — resting. I can handle the active parts of recovery, where I can be in control of my healing, doing something to improve my pain level. The passive part though — the sitting, the waiting, accepting the fact that I won’t be able to hop on a treadmill for at least a month (ironically, longer if I don’t allow myself to rest) — that’s the part that is driving me insane.

My boyfriend is attempting to teach me patience, encouraging me to walk slowly, avoid overexertion, and promote healing in any way possible. I’m a little rebel — hopping on the stationary bike when he’s not looking, walking too fast, skipping icing sessions — to him, I know it looks like self-sabotage. To me, it’s more like self-preservation — protecting myself from the idea of becoming sedentary for over a month. It’s just not like me to sit around, or to believe that sitting around is good for me.

He’s right though — by not resting, I’m guaranteeing myself a longer recovery time, more frustration, and more pain. I can go one of three ways: Continue as I have been, prolonging my pain; rebel against the world, becoming totally sedentary, eating crap, and watching copious amounts of television; OR find healthy, productive ways to promote healing, refocus my energy, and stay positive. (To quote the guy in Shrek: “Pick three my Lord, pick three!”)

TAKING (RESTFUL) ACTION

Take off the Fitbit: I’m not going anywhere, and neither should the step count on my Fitbit. For the first few days after the injury started to seriously affect me, I insisted on wearing my Fitbit so I could at least take comfort in the fact that I was getting some activity. That, my friend, is called a lack of self-awareness: I should’ve known my high-performing nature would kick in, and I would still try to reach my usual 5-figured step count (albeit slowly). If my goal is to rest, having a device encouraging higher step and stair counts is not the key to success. Byebye, Fitbit.

Shift the focus: I began this year with the intention of ramping up my fitness routine even more — and put a lot of mental preparation into the idea that this would be the year that I reached a new peak of fitness. Luckily, I also started the year with another goal: Starting this blog. Working on the blog gives me something to focus on mentally and spiritually in the same whole-hearted way I was going to approach my fitness. It’s excellent timing, really — I can elevate and ice while I blog, resting while promoting healing.

Avoid depressants: My injury came the week of Lent, which I remember from my Catholic school days as a time for self-examination and reflection. I decided to give up alcohol for Lent, for both physical and mental health. Physically, alcohol prevents muscle recovery and growth, plus it’s full of empty calories. Mentally, I know that I’ll have days that are frustrating (I already have), and I know that having a glass or two of wine seems like an appropriate antidote – but for me, it often just makes me more upset. By the time Lent is over, I’ll hopefully be healed and will be able to raise a glass in celebration. Until then, no vino.

Promote healing through food: Although I will be taking my prescribed anti-inflammatories, I’ll try as much as possible to also promote healing through the foods I eat. Bone broth will be my best friend during this time, as well as the anti-inflammatory herb turmeric (stay posted for tons of turmeric recipes). I’m going to try to stick to an anti-inflammatory paleo diet, avoiding dairy, grains, added sugars, legumes, and processed foods and eating tons of fruits and vegetables.

Take energizing baths: Epsom salt baths can reduce inflammation and promote healing. If I’m going to be sitting, I might as well be sitting in a bathtub, right? My goal is to take at least 3 baths a week, with tons of Epsom salts and restorative essential oils like lavender and peppermint to promote relaxation and healing.

EXPRESSING GRATITUDE

It could be much, much worse, and I know it. I’m grateful for this exercise in patience, for everyone supporting me, for the temporary nature of this injury, and for an otherwise healthy body. When I searched for jumper’s knee exercises on Pinterest, a quote popped up that said “Turn this set back into a comeback.” Sounds like a plan.


 

Any tips on promoting healing? Share them below in the comments section. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “tips for healing from an impatient patient

  1. I was probably the worst patient for the first six (or longer) weeks of my hip recovery. I did not like crutches. I did not like limitation. I did not like inactivity. My best advice is to extend yourself grace & try to calm that paranoid judgement voice in your head. And good drugs. Good drugs help A LOT.

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    1. Absolutely to both – now that I’ve had some time to sit with it I’ve realized that being impatient isn’t going to get me better any faster. Just have to focus on healing rather than reaching fitness goals. (Sigh…) And drugs 🙂

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