Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

How do you measure a year?

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In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent)

It’s hard to believe that yesterday marked one year since surgery to install the DeNovo NT cartilage graft to fix a chondral defect behind my patella. Sometimes, I feel the past 12 months have dragged on forever; other times, I can hardly believe it’s already been a year. Really, it all comes down to the numbers.

1 bum knee

2 different PTs

3 Euflexxa injections

4 different doctors (3 surgeons and 1 pain doc)

6 different narcotics, including morphine and Dilaudid

7 scans, including X-rays, a CT arthrogram, an MRI and a bone scan

19 doctor’s appointments

58 physical therapy sessions and counting

84 blog posts

233 visits to the gym

1,012 miles on the bike

Then there are the intangibles, right. The things that I can’t easily put a number on. The bags of ice I’ve gone through. The Netflix movies and TV episodes that I’ve watched (I could probably put a number on this, but that would just be embarrassing). The countless family, friends and colleagues who have helped me survive the last year. The times encouragement has come from the most random of places, like the gate guy at the park or the older woman I met once in the gym pool while she was rehabbing her recently replaced knee.

This year has certainly been a roller coaster. Thankfully, it’s been filled with more ups than downs. More reasons to appreciate life than not. I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, and I’ve made my body do things I never thought possible (hello, Spiderman crawls and elevated side planks).

I was grousing a bit to my physical therapist yesterday about how I can’t understand why the pain isn’t responding to the building strength in my knee, and she said that my expectations have likely changed. Fair enough. I’ve been grumpy because I’m taking an NSAID, icing again like a mad woman and still can’t do much. But then I looked at where I was in June, and I have to admit that I’ve come pretty far in a fairly short amount of time. In three months, I’ve stopped taking all pain medication, I now have a VMO that I can usually make work correctly, I can do ridiculous exercises that I’ve never in my life done before, and I no longer have a daily pity party (now, there’s at least a day in between the times I wallow in self-pity :) ). These are all very good signs. If I’ve subconsciously adjusted my expectations, I just need to consciously adjust my attitude to be grateful for what I’ve accomplished in recent weeks.

I’d hoped that, when this all started, I’d be writing about doing the Hilly Hundred this year or about my triumph at the Little Miami Triathlon. I desperately hoped I’d be writing about riding again. Instead, I’m writing about the victory that is one morning without pain. But you know what? I’ll take it. I might be way behind where I thought I’d be right now, but I’m still holding on to the hope that I will be writing about my triumphant return to the show ring next spring or the 2014 Hilly Hundred in 13 more months.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes feels like a lifetime. But it’s really only been the beginning.

Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

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