Friday, July 31, 2015

Living with Degenerative Joint Disease

It's been a while since I've blogged about my knee problem (s). 
When I was discharged from the Marine Corps, I was deemed 60% disabled.
I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease (AKA osteoarthritis) of my right knee.
It is most common in women over 45.

I thought I'd blog about my journey with this debilitating ailment up until this point in my life.

I've had this since I was 26ish and it's progressively gotten worse over the years....
No one said the Marine Corps would be easy on your body, and it definitely did its' number on my knees....
And I'm not even a grunt...I can't imagine those guys bodies!

I had Synvisc injections which is an injectable medication called hyaluronan.
 Synvisc is typically administered as a series of three injections into the knee joint, each injection spaced about one week apart. 
Synvisc has been shown to help alleviate arthritis symptoms for 6 months, and to delay the need for knee replacement surgery.
Unfortunately for me, I had a HORRIBLE allergic type reaction to Synvisc, was hospitalized, and had to have my knee drained several times to alleviate the amount of swelling I had. 
My doctor was stunned when he saw how big my knee had gotten!
 
I had an arthroscopic surgery prior to getting out of the Corps.
The ortho surgeon was hoping that I had enough cartilage in my knee to where she could shave it down to make it smoother, so it would hurt less.
When I woke up from anesthesia, I could see the look of disappointment on her face.
She told me that I did not have enough cartilage in my knee left that she could work with.
So my knees are clearly "out aging" the rest of my body (thank you Marine Corps!).

So people always say things to me like, "It can't be THAT bad if you're working out every day, and running!"
To those people...
I want to punch in the face. 

Actually, I'm in a constant state of pain every single day.
Parts of my day (like right after my work out), I'm in excruciating pain.
Some days, when I get out of bed, I can't even bend my right knee and am forced to walk around stiff legged for a few minutes before the fluid in my joints allow my knee to bend.
And even then...it takes another few minutes for my knee to bed to a full 90 degree angle.
Don't ever ask me to sit on my knees, cause sitting on my knees is like sitting on a bed of hot nails.
I'm a girly girl, and I love my heels, but I don't wear them nearly as often as I would like because frankly, after a day of walking around in a heel, my knee is usually swollen to the size of a tennis ball.

But I smile, put on my happy face, and work out every day.
Why?
Because my knee hurts, but just because my knee hurts does not give me an excuse to let my health go down the drain.
No, I can't go for a 10 mile run like I used to for fun, but I have revamped my work out style to accommodate my old ass knees. 
It's not perfect, and my knees still hurt afterwards, but it's not nearly as bad as running.
I still run (against the wishes of my doctors) because running has always been my "go to" stress reliever.

I deal with the pain because taking care of the rest of my body is important.
I already have bad knees...
I don't need the rest of my body following them.
So to those of you sitting at home making excuses for yourself on why you can't carve out an hour, 30 minutes, or even 20 minutes out of your day to get up and move, I don't know what to tell ya.

I'm a full time mom of two very busy kids, a full time college student, a wife...
My life is hectic, but I find time to make time for my health.

Put on a smile, and suck it up!

Any of you dealing with any chronic ailments?

4 comments:

  1. Ouch, that would be tough. That's awesome that you power through it though!

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  2. You are awesome my friend!

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  3. Oh, yikes! I have had tendonitis and bursitis in my knees before when I ran cross country, and even that was super painful... so I can only imagine every single day! More power to you for barreling through!

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  4. When I got out of the Marine Corps, I had major hip problems. I also still PT, I want to be healthy!!

    Hope you get better!

    --Tamara

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