Focus On What You CAN Do

Some days don’t quite work out as you anticipate!

Recently I went to the doctor for a check-up. During the consultation, she asked me if I had any new concerns and I commented that left knee had been bothering me. Because it was a joint problem, I had to get x-rays taken.

knee-1406964_640When she reviewed the x-rays I learned that I have bifurcated patellas, dozens of bone spurs, likely tears in my meniscus, a probable tear in my ACL, and my left knee is essential working bone-on-bone. Jokingly I commented that “those things might explain my knee pain and instability, eh?”. Her professional assessment was summed up when she said “you’re broken”.

We talked about my options, and frankly none of them sounded great. I’m not a good candidate for a knee replacement. The ACL repair isn’t a great option. And a general clean-out and shaving of my meniscus has less than a 50% chance of success. She also confirmed that I’m likely going to have to have total knee replacements within 5 years, but things aren’t quite bad enough now to warrant that.

Not exactly the news I was hoping to get.

knee-braceWhen I walked out of the office…well, to be more accurate, I limped out of the office…I was sporting a new knee brace that included jointed hardware. It’s something that I’m going to have to wear most of the time when I’m awake, with the one respite being that I don’t have to wear it when I sleep. At least not yet!

Over the next few days I began to adjust to wearing the brace. Doing any sort of walking for exercise felt strange & painful; I constantly worried about the knee giving way. Running is out of the question.

As the days went on I started to get down about all the things I couldn’t do. I’m supposed to limit how much I carry Hectic Grandson, and stairs are entirely out. If I sat for long periods of time I have to stand up, wait a minute, and then start walking. If I start walking right away I’m both unstable and look ridiculous. Getting in and out of the car is bothersome. And getting up and down from the floor to play with Hectic Grandson is a chore. The brace is hot and causes me to sweat. The velcro needs adjusting several times a day, and it irritates the back of my knee. Lastly, lots of my jeans won’t fit over the brace, so I have a bunch of clothes that I can’t wear now.

So I moped around for a couple days, feeling very sorry for myself. I subtly let everybody know how miserable I was. And my misery leeched into all my interactions with people. I was a social cancer metastasizing into everybody’s lives with negative vibes.

I was arguably no fun to be around. Heck, I didn’t like being around myself.

idea-1707751_640Then something clicked. For once, it wasn’t me knee (that’s funny, so feel free to smile or laugh). But something got into my head that while I can’t do a lot of things, there’s still a lot of things I can do.

I’m able to lift weights. I can still ride my stationary bike. I can workout on the elliptical. I can walk on the treadmill at slow speeds. Kettlebells and free weights are still within my regimen. While I have to be careful about what exercises I choose, I’m not all that restricted.

I’m able to walk around, and I can go up and down stairs…I just need to be aware of what I’m doing. I don’t have any restrictions on most of my daily activities. I can continue to use my standing desk. Sitting is still available when I get tired or don’t feel like standing any more.

I don’t have any limitations on what I can lift, as long as I’m smart about it. I can still play with Hectic Grandson all I want. I really don’t have to do much to change my life.

Sure, I’m a bit slower on the stairs, and getting down onto the floor and back up again is challenging, but they’re something I can still do. Frankly, the list goes on and on of all the things I can do.

So that’s what I’m focusing on. Sure, I’m trying to do some things to strengthen my muscles and improve the stability of my knee. I’m forced to be more conscious about what I’m doing, and I’ve had to learn the art of saying “can you help me” every once in a while…but I should’ve been doing that anyway.

There’s so much that I can do! The trick is reminding myself of that every day. I don’t want to be wallowing in my negative feelings. It’s no use feeling sorry for myself…that doesn’t make anything better. Honestly, it just drains me. So I’m making a concerted, daily effort to focus on all the things that I’m enabled to do rather than focusing on the things I can’t do.

That’s my plan…and I’m sticking to it!